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A Survey of WEBA Members

The following material is taken from Appendix Two of Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon (Loyola University Press, 1987) For a more complete discussion of the survey findings, plus a review of other literature on the topic and testimonies from some of the survey participants, see Aborted Women, Silent No More .

Note, this was a survey of women who had some involement with Women Exploited By Abortion, a peer support group for women who were experiencing negative post-abortion reaction. Because this is a self-selected sample of the those who had a "bad experience" these findings should not be interpreted as representative of a random sample of all women who have had abortions. What percentage of women have "bad experiences" such as those described herein remains unknown. (See Limitations on Post-Abortion Research: Why We Know So Little for a description of why post-abortion researchers have been unable to come up with even a crude estimate of how many women experience post-abortion problems.)

Despite the fact that this sample cannot be generalized to the whole population, the results do appear to be representative of the experiences of those women who do have difficulties after an abortion. This is a legitimate reference point in and of itself. This study is analogous to studying a group of patients who all becoming ill from, for example, an artificial sweetener. It is proper scientific method to study the symptoms and experiences of this group of "sick" patients. Only then can their "illness" be cataloged and a hypothesis be developed. Only after identifying the primary symptoms could one then go out and survey all users of the artificial sweetener to determine how widespread these symptoms may be. This latter stage is part of our ongoing work. In referring to the findings of this study, then, it would be most appropriate to say, for example, "Of women who report post-abortion problems, 53% felt 'forced' to abort by one or more other people, and 39% report feeling very much 'forced' to abort by others."

Survey Results

The survey discussed in Chapter One was distributed through WEBA chapters to 252 women in 42 states. It consisted of two sections: background information and the actual survey questions. The instructions read as follows:
This survey is being conducted to review the decision-making processes of women who have had abortions, and their subsequent satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their decisions. Please answer the questions as honestly as possible. If you wish to elaborate, please feel free to write further explanations or comments on separate sheets of paper. (If possible, please number your explanations according to the number of the question which prompted your comment.) Your written comments may be used in published results of this study. Names and addresses will not be used and will remain confidential unless written permission for use is requested and granted. If you know of anyone else who has had an abortion and may be willing to answer this survey, please make a photocopy of this form for them, or write to the survey address for an additional copy.

Survey Participants

The first section of the survey requested a variety of background information. Tabulation of the background information yielded the following results:
AGE AT TIME OF ABORTION<15 yrs15-1920-2425-29>30
Average age at time of abortion:21.2 yrs
Low age at time of abortion:12 yrs
High age at time of abortion:40 yrs
AGE AT TIME OF SURVEY<20 yrs20-2425-2930-34>34
Average age at time of survey:31.2 yrs
Low age at time of survey:16 yrs
High age at time of survey:64 yrs
Average time since abortion:10.0 yrs (Survey age minus abortion age)
Greatest time since abortion:36 yrs
Least time since abortion:7 months
Degree Equivalent 
No AnswerUnder 12 yrsHigh School (12 yrs)Associate or Trade (13-14)Bachelors (15-16)Masters (17-18)Ph.D. (>18)
<5 wks5-67-89-1011-1213-24>24
Average gestation at time of abortion:10.2 wks
Low gestation at time of abortion:4 wks
High gestation at time of abortion:23 wks
INCOME LEVEL Under $5,000 per year:33%
$5,000 to $10,000:25%
$10,000 to $15,000:14%
$15,000 to $20,000:7%
Over $20,000:21%
Though the above figures tend to show that the women surveyed generally had low incomes at the time of their abortions, these numbers should be interpreted with caution. These figures are not necessarily indicative of the general incomes or social classes of these aborters. At the time of their abortions, most of these women were in their early twenties or late teens; many were college students. While some respondents elsewhere indicated that they were from middle- or upper-class families, they considered themselves independent at the time of their abortions (whether working or attending college) and so reported only their personal incomes. Thus, the income potential of many of these aborters may have been significantly higher than the above figures indicate. Moreover, these income levels are not adjusted for inflation. 
"This question was meant to identify government subsidized abortions (i.e. through federal or state Medicare programs). Another frequent response, however, was that insurance (usually the insurance policy of the woman's parents or college insurance) covered the costs of the abortion. Responses such as 'paid for by boyfriend,' or 'parents' were tallied as being abortions that were not subsidized."
Subsidized:23%Government subsidy:64%
Insurance subsidy:36%

Survey Results

Following the background questions was a list of 58 questions which were to be answered on a scale of 0 to 5. According to the directions for this final section:
Instructions: Unless otherwise indicated, most questions require answers on a scale where 1=Not At All, ranging up to 5=Very Much. Unsure is always indicated by circling 0.
In practice, most of the women did not answer any question which they felt was not applicable to their circumstances. If, for example, they had not consulted with their parents before their abortions, they simply did not circle a response to the question as to whether or not their parents influenced their decisions. Since computer tabulation of the results would have been overly complicated by unanswered questions, all unanswered questions were recorded as a "0" response. Therefore, all "0" responses include those respondents who were unsure of their response to a particular question, as well as those who were sure that the question was "Not Applicable" (N/A) to their particular circumstances.

The following is a complete listing of the questions asked, with answers recorded according to the percentage of respondents falling in each category.
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
1. Were vou satisfied with the abortion services you received?10%44%8%18%10%8%
2. Were you satisfied with your choice at the time?8%42%14%13%10%14%
3. Are you satisfied with your choice today?3%95%0%1%0%1%
4. Was the decision made for reasons of:
mental health?40%34%4%6%6%11%
physical health?41%48%2%3%1%6%
financial limits?32%27%5%9%5%23%
social acceptance?20%12%3%7%10%47%
family size?42%48%1%2%1%6%
career goals?41%30%4%7%5%13%
Iong-term needs?43%22%4%7%6%18%
short-term needs?41%14%2%5%9%28%
5. Do you feel you were "forced" by outside circumstances to have an abortion?4%12%10%10%10%54%
6. Were you encouraged to have an abortion by:
other family members?41%39%3%3%2%12%
social worker?52%32%2%0%4%10%
abortion counselor?39%20%2%4%8%27%
7. Would your choice have been different if any or all of the above had encouraged you differently?8%4%2%3%7%76%
8. Do you feel you were "forced" by others to have an abortion?4%23%10%10%14%39%
9. If abortion had not been legally available, would you have sought an illegal abortion?16%72%3%4%2%4%
10. Would you have attempted a self-induced abortion?4%87%2%2%2%3%
11. Did you feel rushed to have an abortion?3%8%3%5%12%69%
12. How long did you take to decide?1-4 days1 wk.2-3 wks.4-6 wks.longer
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
13. Do you feel your decision was well thought out?1%74%8%9%2%6%
14. Do you feel you had all of the necessary information to make the decision?2%88%5%3%1%2%
15. Have you had more than one abortion?Yes-24% No-76%
How many?123>3
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
16. Would you ever have another abortion?4%95%1%0%0%0%
17. Were there any physical complications following the procedure?Yes 47%, No 44%, Unsure 9%
18. If so, were they severe or minor? (minor-1; severe-5)47%15%6%14%4%15%
19. Was there any permanent damage?Yes 18%, No 47%, Unsure 35%
20. Have any subsequent pregnancies resulted in miscarriage or premature birth?Yes 23%, No 67%, Unsure 10%
If so, does your doctor attribute it to your previous abortion?Yes 5%, No 5%, Unsure 88%
21. Were there any negative psychological effects you attribute to your abortion?Yes 94%, No 2%, Unsure 4%
22. If so, were they minor or severe? (minor-l; severe-5)6%4%3%14%19%54%
23. Did they persist:1-6 mos.1-2 yrsover 3 years ?
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
24. Do they still persist?7%25%23%19%8%18%
25. Was post-abortion counseling available through the clinic or referral agency?16%76%4%1%1%2%
26. Did you require professional counseling and/or treatment?8%45%4%6%6%31%
27. Were you using a form of birth control when you conceived?Yes 23%, No 74%, Unsure 3%
28. Were you familiar with the available forms of birth control?1%7%8%15%7%63%
29. Knowing where your life is today, would you still have chosen abortion?4%94%1%0%0%1%
30. Did you discuss your decision with others?1%25%28%19%10%18%
31. When you went to the clinic or counselor, was your decision already firm?5%30%9%16%10%31%
32. Were you still looking for options?9%29%9%7%8%36%
33. Did the clinic, doctor, or counselor help you to explore your decision?2%84%7%3%1%3%
34. Do you feel their opinions were biased?23%6%3%3%7%59%
If so: for abortion 
79%or against abortion1%n/a20%
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
35. Were you adequately informed about the procedure?4%49%17%15%10%6%
36. Were you given information about the biological nature of the fetus?4%90%3%2%0%2%
37. Were you well informed about the procedure and fetus through other sources before seeking an abortion?1%83%7%5%0%4%
38. Was your decision made in consultation with your doctor?2%70%4%5%6%14%
39. Were you encouraged to ask questions?6%64%16%8%3%2%
40. Were your questions thoroughly answered to your satisfaction?19%52%12%8%4%4%
41. Do you believe there was information you were not given, or were misinformed about?8%10%1%4%4%73%
42. Were risks and dangers discussed?7%65%16%5%4%4%
43. What was your opinion about the nature of the fetus?
no answer4%
What is your opinion about the nature of the fetus?
no answer3%
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
44. If counseling a friend who was in a situation such as yours, would you encourage her to choose an abortion?1%98%0%0%0%1%
45. Was your self-image improved or worsened by your decision?
(worsened-1; improved-5)
46. Is your life today better or worse because of your decision?
(worse-l; improved-5)
47. Was the period of your pregnancy before the abortion emotionally traumatic?4%11%6%10%11%60%
48. Did you feel in control of your life when making your decision?3%65%8%9%6%10%
49. Did you feel your life was controlled by others?4%16%8%12%14%47%
50. Did the knowledge that abortion was legal influence your opinion about the morality of choosing abortion?11%12%1%6%12%58%
51. Did you consider carrying the pregnancy to term?5%19%12%15%12%38%
52. Did you consider keeping the baby?6%23%10%13%10%49%
53. Did you consider adoption?4%62%13%7%6%8%
54. Under better circumstances, would you have kept the baby?10%1%2%3%3%81%
55. After your abortion, did you hope to have children at a later time?6%6%1%2%1%84%
56. Were there periods when you felt good or excited about your pregnancy?9%23%8%6%10%43%
57. What were your feelings about abortion prior to becoming pregnant?
(negative-1; positive-5)
58. What are your feelings about abortion today?
(negative-1; positive-5)

Planned Parenthood Clients

Because Planned Parenthood has a reputation as one of the best, most professional, abortion providers, the researcher separted out those survey respondents who received counseling and/or their abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics. He then tabulated their answers separately. A total of 53 respondents (21% of all respondents) fell into this subgroup. Their answers to the following questions were selected to provide a comparison of Planned Parenthood services to those of abortion providers as a whole.
N/A or UnsureNot at AllVery Much
1. Were you satisfied with the abortion services you received?11%45%11%13%8%11%
6f. Were you encouraged to have an abortion by (your) abortion counselor?26%10%2%2%12%48%
28. Would your choice have been different if any or all of the above had encouraged you differently?8%0%0%0%13%80%
31. When you went to the clinic or counseior, was your decision to abort already firm?26%36%11%23%4%25%
32. Were you still looking for options?11%19%6%9%9%45%
33. Did the clinic, doctor, or counselor help you to explore your decision?2%85%13%0%0%0%
34. Do you feel their opinions were biased?19%4%2%4%6%66%
If so: for abortion 
89%or against abortion0%n/a12%
35. Were you adequately informed about the procedure? 2%43%15%23%11%6%
36. Were you given information about the biological nature of the fetus?2%85%8%4%0%2%
37. Were you well informed about the procedure and fetus through other sources before seeking an abortion?2%81%4%6%0%8%
38. Was your decision made in consultation with your doctor?2%89%2%2%0 %6%
39. Were you encouraged to ask questions?4%60%19%11%4%2%
40. Were your questions thoroughly answered to your satisfaction?17%53%11%13%2%4%
41. Do you believe there was information you were not given or were misinformed about?4%13%0%4%6%74%
42. Were risks and dangers discussed?6%62%19%8%4%2%

See more about Aborted Women, Silent No More

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copyright 2000 Elliot Institute
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