Science proves women are already sure they want abortions even before they get to the doctor

The most frustrating, sexist aspect of almost all abortion laws is that most of them are aimed at changing a woman’s mind about what she already decided she wanted to do about her pregnancy. Now, a new study shows that most women are sure about wanting an abortion before they even go to the doctor. It’s a shame that we need a study to confirm that when a woman gets pregnant and then calls the doctor to make an appointment, she usually knows what she wants to do about the fetus. Yet, there are 27 states that require mandatory waiting periods after an initial appointment with a doctor before being able to go through with terminating the pregnancy. This new study proves how useless those waiting periods are.

The study, published in Contraception, was done by researchers from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco. They surveyed 500 Utah women getting an abortion at four family-planning clinics in the state and used the “Decisional Conflict Scale” to measure how certain the women were of their choice (the lower the score, the more certain, the higher, the more conflict). Overall, 89 percent of the women they followed up with had had abortions and their score was 13.5 out of 100 (though they were only able to follow up with 63 percent of the respondents). The 11 percent who chose to not have an abortion had a mean score of 28.5, which means that they were less sure to start with and then decided to not go through with it. The average group score was 15.5. Basically, they found that women are sure about what they want, even if you read them an “informational script” during the 72-hour waiting period that Utah mandates.

Lauren Ralph, an epidemiologist at ANSRH told Think Progress, “Our finding directly challenges the narrative that decision making on abortion is somehow exceptional compared to other health care decisions and requires additional protection, such as state laws that mandate waiting periods or targeted counseling, and whose stated purpose is to prevent women from making an unconsidered decision.” Uh, yeah. The women in the study jumped through all of the usual hoops and 89 percent of them still knew what they wanted before they even started. Waiting periods and counseling are a waste of time and resources.

Another study looking at Utah’s 72-hour waiting period found that 77 percent of women returned for their abortion, but the waiting periods still had a negative impact on them because it either involved them missing work or spending money on transportation. The findings of this new study show that waiting periods, which are mandatory in 27 states, are totally unnecessary. They’re also sexist, since they’re built on the idea that women don’t really know what they want and need to be guided through the process, something we don’t do for any other medical procedure. For example, states don’t make cancer patients wait before deciding on a course of treatment, or show them time-lapsed photos of their grandchildren when considering not starting chemotherapy, right? Right.

Conservatives and the GOP are stubborn as anything, so it’s likely that pro-choice advocates will have to run more studies about the decision-making process and restrictions on abortions before anything changes. But that’s good in a way because the more data we have about how useless the waiting periods and other obstacles really are, the better.

The laws don’t work. Women aren’t fickle. Get it over it, everyone.