This study aims to assess the effects of obtaining an abortion versus being denied an abortion on self-esteem and life satisfaction.
We present the first 2.5 years of a 5-year longitudinal telephone-interview study that follows 956 women who sought an abortion from 30 facilities across the USA. We examine the self-esteem and life satisfaction trajectories of women who sought and received abortions just under the facility's gestational age limit, of women who sought and received abortions in their first trimester of pregnancy, and of women who sought abortions just beyond the facility gestational limit and were denied an abortion. We use adjusted mixed effects linear regression analyses to assess whether the trajectories of women who sought and obtained an abortion differ from those who were denied one.
Women denied an abortion initially reported lower self-esteem and life satisfaction than women who sought and obtained an abortion. For all study groups, except those who obtained first trimester abortions, self-esteem and life satisfaction improved over time. The initially lower levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction among women denied an abortion improved more rapidly reaching similar levels as those obtaining abortions at 6 months to one year after abortion seeking. For women obtaining first trimester abortions, initially higher levels of life satisfaction remained steady over time.
There is no evidence that abortion harms women's self-esteem or life satisfaction in the short term.