A new study reveals that almost all women who opt to see an
ultrasound image of their fetus before having an abortion decide to go through
with the procedure.
The research, which was published in Obstetrics and Gynecology in December 2013, included 15,575 women who planned to have an
abortion at one of the 19 Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles.
The women were surveyed about how strongly they felt about
wanting an abortion before their appointment. About 85.4 percent said they were sure about their
decision, while 7.4 percent admitted they had medium to low levels of certainty
that getting an abortion was the right choice.
The facilities routinely did ultrasounds before performing
the procedure, but gave women the choice whether or not they wanted to see the
image. Only 42.5 percent chose to look at the ultrasound.
Overall, 98.8 percent of the women went through with their
plans. For the women who decided to look at the ultrasound, 99 percent still had
the abortion. For those who asked not to see the images, 98.4 percent decided
to go through with their plans.
Women who said they had doubts about whether they
wanted the abortion were most likely to change their mind after seeing the
ultrasound. However, the majority of them still went through with the
procedure. About 95.2 percent of women who were unsure and looked at the
ultrasound had the abortion, compared to 97.5 percent who
were unsure and said they didn’t want to see the image.
In addition, women who were 17 to 19 weeks pregnant were 20
times more likely to decide not to get the abortion compared to women who were
less than nine weeks pregnant.
There was no difference in rates for women who were sure
about their decision and whether or not they saw the ultrasound or not
The authors said that women should have the option to
see an ultrasound if they want to, but being mandated by law to view it was not advised. They hope in future studies to look at how viewing or not viewing
the images affect the women emotionally.
“I think that when we start moving from a place where
it’s about a patient decision to a legal requirement, we’re moving into the
space that the literature around health suggests is going to have negative effects
on women’s health outcomes,” author Katrina Kimport, an assistant adjunct
professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine,
CBS New York reported that 10 states require doctors to
perform an ultrasound before an abortion and at least allow the woman to see the images if she wants to. Three of those 10 mandate that women have look at the ultrasound before going through with the procedure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2010
there were 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Women
in their 20s were the most likely group to have an abortion.
The abortion to live birth ratio was 228 abortions per
1,000 live births that year. The number of abortions was 3 percent lower than
the previous year, and fell 9 percent since 2001.
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