(Mis)Understanding Abortion Regret


Direct all correspondence to Katrina Kimport, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco, 1330 Broadway, Ste 1100, Oakland, CA 94612; e-mail: kimportk@obgyn.ucsf.edu.


The debate about abortion regret rests on competing assumptions about women's attachment to pregnancy. Antiabortion claimants argue women always attach to pregnancy (inevitably regretting abortion), while abortion rights supporters counter that women do not attach to pregnancies they choose to terminate (feeling relief instead). Neither assumption explains women's experience; research shows that attachment is discursively produced. Using interview data from 21 women, this study moves past these political claims to empirically identify three sources of women's emotional difficulty around abortion: social disapproval, romantic relationship loss, and head versus heart conflict. Findings point to the importance of attention to women's lived experience and space for complex feelings around abortion.