The professor also pointed to flaws in the study that might be overlooked by most casual readers. Regnerus noted that there was "a good deal of sample selection bias – only 32 percent of women approached actually participated, leaving us to wonder if there are differences between they and the 68 percent who didn't."
Furthermore, the study was unable to keep track of 42 percent of the original participants. Regnerus added that while these kinds of sample selection bias and challenges in collecting data are difficult to avoid in studies, particularly on a subject like abortion, they do introduce unknowns into the study.
Regnerus said that the study's focus on near-term emotions such as anxiety or self-esteem "are too tangled up in the emotions of the event, the circumstances surrounding pursuing an abortion," and said he thought it was a "leap for the authors to draw sensible conclusions" from such data.
What was more noteworthy, he commented was the study's tracking of depression over the five year period, which remained constant. "The ability to track the direct effect of abortion on depression longer-term," he noted, "is this study's contribution."
"It is unreasonable to presume that every abortion conducted in the United States – and elsewhere, for that matter – will make the woman who sought it troubled or sad over the long run," Regnerus added.
"It does for plenty, no doubt. We hear about it. On the other hand, we hear of accounts to the contrary."
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life said that in her experience, even in cases where there is regret and suffering, those feelings can lead to more positive states of healing.
"Abortion takes the life of one and often wounds the life of another," Mancini told CNA. "Some women only come to discover such deep wounds after many years, sometimes decades," she said, pointing out again that the study only covered a five-year span.
"My personal experience in working with women who regret abortion is that when a woman honestly faces the truth of what's happened, she suffers tremendously, but this in turn is the first step to finding real and lasting hope and healing."
Adelaide Mena was the DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency until 2017 and is a 2012 graduate of Princeton University.