*The translation of this article in French and Spanish has been made through machine translation and has not been edited yet. we apologise for any inaccuracies.
In August, we asked over 6,300 healthcare professionals for their opinions on abortion and healthcare in our monthly M3 Pulse survey.
Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on 24 June 2022, discussions around changes in U.S. state abortion laws and the effect they will have on the delivery of women’s healthcare, and the impact on society at large, continue to unfold. Read healthcare professionals opinions on this matter.
Roe v Wade was a landmark lawsuit filed in 1970, challenging Texas abortion laws. Jane Roe (legal alias) was seeking to terminate her pregnancy, but at the time, surgical abortion procedures were illegal in Texas unless deemed necessary to save the mother’s life. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Roe on the basis of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, declaring that this ‘right to privacy’ extends to the constitutional right to abortion.
However, the controversial case did not guarantee an absolute right to abortion but instead helped defined the framework to balance U.S. states’ interests with privacy rights. As one of the most famous rulings in U.S. history, Roe v. Wade changed the way states regulate abortions with many advocating for stricter abortion laws by placing restrictions on abortions in certain circumstances, for example, late-term abortions.
Globally, abortion is still illegal in over twenty countries with around one hundred countries legalising procedures, albeit with some restrictions. Since 2000, women living in thirty-eight countries have the right to abortion, including Argentina, Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, and New Zealand. 95% of all European countries offer abortion on request (regardless of the reason) during the first trimester of pregnancy. Abortion is legal at any point in the pregnancy should the woman’s life or health become endangered. Only six countries in Europe maintain highly restrictive abortion laws, with two countries, Andorra and Malta, not allowing abortions under any circumstances.
Since overturning the Roe v Wade ruling in June 2022 many states in the U.S. have since restored anti-abortion laws, restricting the availability of procedures or setting gestational limits.
Whilst much as the world has achieved progress in securing women’s and reproductive rights, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues globally with discussion on women’s rights to reproductive autonomy versus the rights to protect potential human life. Although the right to safe and legal abortion has been established as a human right by numerous international frameworks on abortion laws, discussions at a national and international level continue.
M3 Pulse Results | 6,300 healthcare professionals’ opinions on US abortion laws
Last month, we asked the M3 panel what the impact of restricting legal access to abortion will be due to the overturning of Roe v Wade. Over 6,300 healthcare professionals globally shared their opinions in our M3 Pulse survey about this important matter in abortion laws.
Interestingly, one-third of respondents elected to share their opinions in the comment section under “other answers”, instead of selecting one of the multiple-answer options, highlighting the very nuanced nature of the subject. Check out the results below about this important matter on abortion laws.
As a healthcare provider, what impact do you expect to see in states and countries where, due to abortion laws, abortion is no longer legal?
*Please select your language
27% of respondents believe that in states or countries where abortion laws have made access to abortion severely restricted, the number of illegal abortions will increase. 19% predict that there will be an increase in maternal deaths, and 16% believe there will be a negative impact on women’s access to education and work. By contrast, only 5% believe that fewer pregnancies will be terminated, therefore protecting the rights of unborn children. Only 1% of all respondents thought that there will not be any impact.
32% of all respondents shared verbatim responses covering a wide range of opinions including there would be an increase in the number of unwanted children being born, resulting in increased neglect or abuse leading to a traumatic childhood. Respondents were concerned that there may be more abandoned babies but also an increase in need for foster and social care. Respondents also shared their fears for the mental health of women, increased suicide rates, and the impact of regressive women’s rights. One respondent reported that many mental health services are already underfunded and provision limited, with long waiting lists for treatment.
A number of respondents welcomed the changes in the abortion laws and believed that there will be minimal impact on women, with some suggesting there were positives as women would no longer have a difficult choice to make. Improving access to sexual health education was also seen as a factor in limiting the need for abortions in the first place. Some mentioned that increasing the availability of elective sterilization procedures (hysterectomies or vasectomies) could also avoid the risk of accidental pregnancies.
Some respondents are concerned about a potential increase in costs and pressure on healthcare systems in countries where abortions are legal, suggesting that women would travel to gain access to legalised procedures by abortion laws.
A number of medical professionals stated that healthcare professionals may choose to relocate depending on their beliefs. Some fear harassment based on their decisions and cite challenges in practicing medicine available to all vs. making decisions according to their personal beliefs. It was also mentioned that fewer medical students may consider careers in obstetrics and gynaecology and choose to practice in different fields of medicine. There were also some respondents who suggested that increasing the time limit on availability of abortions, to, for example, 15 weeks, could also help as there would be more opportunity for the mother to make an informed decision about her options in her own time.
One respondent summed up the issues best in stating that there is no simple answer to this question regarding women’s healthcare. Yes, many unborn lives will be saved, but women will still choose abortions and may choose unsafe methods or increase the strain on their finances when their right to choose is withdrawn, negatively impacting women’s healthcare and women’s rights in general.
How do you feel about the changes in women's healthcare and abortion laws in general since Roe v. Wade has been overturned?
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