For Immediate Release
Women Want to Know
About Abortion Risks, Survey Reveals
New Study Underscores Need for
Informed Consent Legislation, Pro-Life Advocates Say
Springfield, IL (August 29, 2006) -- A new survey has found that women want
to be thoroughly informed of all possible risks associated with elective medical
procedures, and they generally want as much or more information when it comes to
The survey of 187 women seeking obstetric and gynecological services at a
Wisconsin women's health clinic was published in the Journal of Medical
Ethics in July. The women were given a short survey in which they were
asked to state their preferences for information about elective medical
procedures. They ranked the degree of information they preferred regarding
alternative treatments and complication rates, and rated the severity of
different types of complications, ranging in severity from headaches to death.
The results showed that 95 percent of patients wished to be informed of all
the risks of a procedure and 69 percent wanted to be informed of all alternative
treatments, not just the alternatives preferred by their doctor.
Moreover, in their ranking of the seriousness of complications, mental health
complications ranked as very serious, only slightly below the risk of death or
heart disease. This finding may be especially important to the abortion debate
since recent peer-reviewed studies have linked abortion to increased rates of
mental health problems, such as suicidal behavior, clinical depression, anxiety
disorders, substance abuse, and sleep disorders.
"Doctors should anticipate that most women desire information on every
potential risk, even risks that doctors may judge to be less serious or
inconsequentially rare, and they will generally consider this information to be
relevant to their decisions regarding elective procedures," the authors wrote.
Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute and one of co-authors of
the study, said that the survey "demonstrates that women have a high level of
interest in being informed of any risk that is statistically associated with the
procedure, including psychological risks. It also reveals that while some
experts may consider some associations, such as a 10 percent higher risk of
breast cancer, as relatively unimportant, most women would consider it to be
very important to their decision making process."
Reardon also said the study refutes the claim doctors should withhold
information about studies identifying abortion risks simply because
the abortion provider personally believes that future studies will disprove
"Our survey shows that most women don't want doctors to screen which
information they are told about risks," he said. "They want to judge the
evidence for themselves. They clearly prefer to be fully informed about all
possible complications, even if abortion providers insist that the causal links
between abortion and these statistically linked complications have yet to be
fully proven to the abortionist's satisfaction."
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PK Coleman, DC Reardon, MB Lee, "Women's preferences for information and
complication seriousness ratings related to elective medical procedures,"
Journal of Medical Ethics, 32:435-438 (2006).