The Utah Supreme Court just heard arguments to determine whether the injunction blocking Utah’s abortion trigger law can be upheld under the state constitution. While we don’t have an answer yet, the ongoing battle over the legality of abortion in our state is causing stress for patients and providers (Note: You can still get an abortion in Utah, up to 18 weeks of pregnancy). On City Cast Salt Lake, host Ali Vallarta talked with the executive director of Exhale Pro-Voice Rachel Dyer to find out what we can learn from the conversations being had on the post-abortion textlines.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about the psychology of abortion?
“The relationship between abortion and people's mental health is very under-discussed, and if it is talked about at all, it's typically talked about incorrectly. People assume that if someone has an abortion, they're going to have adverse mental health outcomes, and that is not true. It is clear from decades of research that having an abortion does not negatively affect your mental health. And in fact, if you do not have an abortion when you need one, that is the thing that negatively harms your mental health. Mental health and emotions are also two different things. So while abortions do not impact your mental health, people have feelings about everything, right? So that's where Exhale Pro Voice comes in, to talk with people about their feelings.”
What are some of the common themes in the text messages that Exhale Pro Voice receives?
“Many people don't know this, but 59% of people who have abortions are already parents. They don't want having another child to interfere with their current family structure or financial ability to take care of their kids. So that's a huge consideration for a lot of people and comes up quite a bit on the text line. Abortion stigma is also a very significant factor in people's emotional well-being. We live in a society that often tells us that people who have abortions are selfish and evil. And you can imagine that being immersed in that isn't super great for people's emotional wellbeing.”
It's been just over a year since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a ruling that protected the constitutional right to an abortion. What have been the ebbs and flows of the text line since then?
“Our utilization [after the decision] increased by over 200%. It decreased a little and then increased again around the anniversary, but a lot more people were sharing our phone number, which was fantastic. People were sharing things like, you know, I haven't really felt distress related to my abortion experiences. I haven't really thought about them, but this is scary and different and I worry about the other people in my life. I worry about my kids, I worry about my loved ones. So a lot of people are reaching out to us for different reasons and in more distress than they had been.”
Listen for the full interview 👇