Why don’t we know more about the long-term effects of abortion?
Though abortion is one of the most contested medical practices in U.S. history, we know shockingly little about how this simple outpatient procedure affects women. There are almost no scientific studies on what happens to women who receive abortions, and even fewer on what happens to women who are unable to get them. The American government regulates access to abortion, but rarely funds studies on the procedure through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That means that most abortion policies in the U.S. are not based on scientific evidence from medical studies.
To find out why, we talked to the University of California at San Francisco’s Tracy Weitz, who for the past decade has run a program at UCSF called Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). The group, funded entirely by private donors, has done some of the only comprehensive studies in the U.S. about abortion in the medical system. Weitz told us what she and her colleagues have found.