59% of abortion patients are already mothers, yet only one qualitative study considers how desires around family formation or family preservation might influence pregnant people's abortion decision-making. In addition, existing studies of reasons for abortion obtain data with surveys and interviews. In this study, we examine spontaneous, anonymous notebook entries written by patients in the pre- and post-procedure waiting room of an abortion clinic. This novel data offers a new way to learn more about how abortions patients understand their abortion decision, and how they communicate about it to other abortion patients. Sixteen notebooks containing 394 entries written by people sitting in the pre- and post-procedure waiting and recovery room of Abortion Clinic X over the course of seven years were transcribed, and a content analysis using inductive thematic coding was conducted. The dominant theme that emerged was “maternal reasoning.” Half of the Clinic X abortion patients who offered narratives communicate that their existing children or potential children will be better off as a result of their abortion. In an overlapping category, approximately one quarter of the writers framed themselves as being in a mother-child relationship with the embryo or fetus they were carrying. These data suggest that many abortion patients understand their decision to end a pregnancy as part of family formation and preservation. These data should not be used to fuel a politics of sympathy, but they could support a politics of solidarity that advances reproductive rights.
- Reproductive rights
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)