Effect of Abortion vs. Carrying to Term on a Woman's Relationship with the Man Involved in the Pregnancy

Jane Mauldon Diana Greene Foster, ANSIRH Sarah C. M. Roberts, University of California, San Francisco

First published online:

| DOI: https://doi.org/10.1363/47e2315
Abstract / Summary

When a woman who seeks an abortion cannot obtain one, having a child may reshape her relationship with the man involved in the pregnancy. No research has compared how relationship trajectories are affected by different outcomes of an unwanted pregnancy.


Data from the Turnaway Study, a prospective longitudinal study of women who sought abortion in 2008–2010 at one of 30 U.S. facilities, are used to assess relationships over two years among 862 women who had abortions or were denied them because they had passed the facility's gestational age limit. Mixed-effects models analyze effects of abortion or birth on women's relationships with the men involved.


At conception, most women (80%) were in romantic relationships with the men involved. One week after seeking abortion, 61% were; two years later, 37% were. Compared with women who obtained an abortion near the facility's gestational age limit, women who gave birth had greater odds of having ongoing contact with the man (odds ratio at two years, 1.7). The odds of romantic involvement at two years did not differ by group; however, the decline in romantic involvement was initially slower among those giving birth. Relationship quality did not differ between groups.


Giving birth temporarily prolonged romantic relationships of women in this study; most romantic relationships ended soon, whether or not the woman had an abortion. However, giving birth increased the odds of nonromantic contact between women and the men involved throughout the ensuing two years.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2015, 47(1):11–18, doi: 10.1363/47e2315

Author's Affiliations

Jane Mauldon is associate professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley. Diana Greene Foster is associate professor and director of research, and Sarah C. M. Roberts is assistant professor, both with Advancing Standards in Reproductive Health, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.


The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.