Abortion lawmakers across the country have been putting restrictions on women's health for years.
However, a comprehensive longitudinal study reveals that women who have been denied abortions and later have a baby have worse health results years later than women who receive abortions.
The latest results of the University of California, San Francisco, researchers' turn-out study compared the health status of some 330 women who had abortion during their first trimester, 380 who had abortion in their second trimester and slightly more than 160 who tried to get an abortion but were turned away. The latter women were denied access to the procedure because they were beyond the limits of their clinic's pregnancy.
Five years after the women either had an abortion or were denied an abortion, they answered questions about their overall health and certain problems such as chronic pain, headache, and high blood pressure.
Women who were able to perform an abortion generally rated their condition about the same regardless of whether the procedure was in the first or second trimester.
Women who were denied abortion and who went 27% said their health status was "fair" or "bad" compared to 20% of women who had abortion in the first trimester and 21
They also reported more headache and joint pain, although all three groups had similar rates for other types of chronic pain and obesity.
Lauren Ralph, author of the study and epidemiologist of the university's "Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health" project, told HuffPost.
Childbirth fared worse, "she said.
The new findings do not prove cause and effect, which is why women who were refused abortion years later reported poorer health outcomes. Ralph said that in some cases a birth could aggravate women's existing health problems. Pregnancy and childbirth can also cause long-term health problems such as joint pain.
But that's probably not the whole picture.
"There is this complex relationship between health, socioeconomic status, and stress," Ralph said. "I would guess that there are a number of factors."
The vast majority of American states prohibit abortion after a certain time in pregnancy. About half have enacted laws that mandate this ban for as little as 13 to 24 weeks – say, in the second trimester – and are often based on the unscientific claim that a fetus can feel pain for about 22 weeks.
And some states have begun to curtail abortion much earlier, like the recent increase in abortion prohibitions in the 6th or 8th week of pregnancy. None of these laws is currently in force and many are facing legal challenges.
The Turnaway study tracked nearly 1,000 women between 2008 and 2015, who were recruited into 30 abortion clinics in 21 states one week after they were denied abortions, and then every six months for five years.
Previously, researchers using the same data set found that women who had undergone an abortion had no long-term negative mental health impact. Rejected women, however, reported greater anxiety, less life satisfaction and lower self-esteem, shortly after being told that they could not have an abortion is an essential part of women's health care.
"If abortion is legal, it is extremely safe," the college said in an opinion from the 2014 committee on improving access to abortions. "The risk of birth associated with childbirth is about 14 times higher than abortion."