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Study: 98 Percent of Women Went Through With Abortions Even After Seeing Ultrasounds


"...motivated in large part by the current political and popular interest in what role ultrasound viewing plays..."

Photo credit: Shutterstock

With the debate regarding mandated ultrasounds before abortions, the information that came out of a recent study might be of interest. Researchers from the University of California found more than 98 percent of women who voluntarily had an ultrasound before an abortion still went through with the procedure.

ultrasound Photo credit: Shutterstock

"This study was motivated in large part by the current political and popular interest in what role ultrasound viewing plays in women's decisions about abortion," study co-author Katrina Kimport with the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine told Reuters.

The study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology reviewed more than 15,500 medical records of women who sought abortions from Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles in 2011.

All patients received an ultrasound before the procedure and were given the opportunity to view the image, according to the study. Less than half of patients chose to view the image, 42.5 percent. Of those, 98.4 percent of women still terminated their pregnancies. Those who didn't view the ultrasound terminated the pregnancy 99 percent of the time.

The study explained that in women with what was considered a high decision certainty viewing the ultrasound was not a factor in continuing with the pregnancy or not. For women who were considered to have a medium to low decision certainty, viewing the ultrasound was "significantly associated with deciding to continue the pregnancy," the study said.

As a result of these findings, the authors concluded that choosing to view the ultrasound image could "contribute to a small proportion of women with medium or low decision certainty deciding to continue the pregnancy; such viewing does not alter decisions of the large majority of women who are certain that abortion is the right decision."

With those advocating for mandated ultrasounds before women have abortions, thinking it could lead to a change of heart in the pregnant women -- something 10 states now require -- Kimport told Reuters this study brings "an empirical perspective to these conversations."

According to Reuters, the study did not evaluate the emotional effects seeing the ultrasound could have on women. It also noted that the study didn't delve into women who felt forced to see the ultrasound; in this study women had the choice to view the image.

Earlier this month, a federal judge found it unconstitutional for a North Carolina law to require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound and then have the image described to them.

"The Supreme Court has never held that a state has the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state's ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term and this court declines to do so today," U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said in her ruling at the time, according to CNN.

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