The real link between abortion and mental health

              Go to any abortion clinic being protested or any crisis pregnancy center and you are likely to hear that abortion causes depression. A common anti-abortion refrain is “You will get Post Abortion Syndrome if you don’t have your baby!!” Yet numerous studies have proven this claim to be false; including one commissioned by Former President Regan whose intent was to prove that PAS does exist. What studies ARE showing is that the opposite seems to be true. That having to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term rather than being able to have an abortion when desired is what is actually detrimental to a woman’s mental health.

                A study done on teenage girls who had pregnancy tests done at two Baltimore clinics showed that the girls who chose to have abortions were MORE likely to graduate from high school on time than girls in similar socioeconomic situations who either carried their pregnancies to term or who weren’t pregnant at all.  They also showed no higher levels of stress as compared to the other girls, both at the time of the pregnancy/abortion and two years later.

                In a different study, researchers found that 34% of women who were denied abortions one to three years earlier reported that the child was a burden who they sometimes resented. A study in Sweden showed that 24% of women denied an abortion 7 years prior to the study, still had not been able to adjust emotionally to being forced to bear a pregnancy to term and another 53% were able to adjust only with difficulty. Only 23% were able to be described as well adjusted.

                While the impact of a first-trimester abortion on the mental health of a woman is generally found to be minimal, an unwanted pregnancy ending in adoption can actually be quite traumatic to the women. In one study it was reported that 95% of women who gave their child up for adoption felt grief and remorse after signing their consent forms and 2/3’s of them continued to feel that way five-15 years later.

                When it comes to adoption, thanks to the extensive background checks needed to adopt a child; it can generally be assumed that the child was given to a loving family who took care of his or hers  mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, children born from unintended pregnancies whose birth mothers were obligated to keep them do not fare as well. Children born from unintended pregnancies have socialization problems, mental health issues, and lower self-esteem then peers born in wanted pregnancies.

                This trend seems to apply to women who wanted abortions but were unable to obtain them. It is clear that many women with unintended pregnancies end up extremely happy and excited about becoming mothers, but clearly forcing women who don’t feel that way to carry a pregnancy is just a bit cruel.

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2 thoughts on “The real link between abortion and mental health

  1. Theresa Bonopartis July 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm Reply

    how about all these studies that show it does hurt women?
    Studies showing the abortion-mental health connection:
    • Bradshaw, Z., & Slade, P. (2005). The relationship between induced abortion, attitudes toward sexuality, and sexual problems. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 20, 390-406.
    • Brockington, I.F. (2005). Post-abortion psychosis, Archives of Women’s Mental Health 8: 53–54.
    • Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2006). Predictors of anxiety and depression following pregnancy termination: A longitudinal five-year follow-up study. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 85: 317-23.
    • Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2005). Reasons for induced abortion and their relation to women’s emotional distress: A prospective, two-year follow-up study. General Hospital Psychiatry 27: 36-43.
    • Broen, A. N., Moum, T., Bodtker, A. S., & Ekeberg, O. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine 3(18).
    • Coleman, P. K. (2005). Induced Abortion and increased risk of substance use: A review of the evidence. Current Women’s Health Reviews 1, 21-34.
    • Coleman, P. K. (2006). Resolution of unwanted pregnancy during adolescence through abortion versus childbirth: Individual and family predictors and psychological consequences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 903-911.
    • Coleman, P. K. (2009). The Psychological Pain of Perinatal Loss and Subsequent Parenting Risks: Could Induced Abortion be more Problematic than Other Forms of Loss? Current Women’s Health Reviews, 5, 88-99.
    • Coleman, P. K., Coyle, C. T., & Rue, V.M. (2010). Late-Term Elective Abortion and Susceptibility to Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, Journal of Pregnancy, vol. 2010, Article ID 130519.
    • Coleman, P. K., Coyle, C.T., Shuping, M., & Rue, V. (2009), Induced Abortion and Anxiety, Mood, and Substance Abuse Disorders: Isolating the Effects of Abortion in the National Comorbidity Survey. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 43, 770– 776.
    • Coleman, P. K., Maxey, C. D., Rue, V. M., & Coyle, C. T. (2005). Associations between voluntary and involuntary forms of perinatal loss and child maltreatment among low-income mothers. Acta Paediatrica, 94(10), 1476-1483.
    • Coleman, P. K., & Maxey, D. C., Spence, M. Nixon, C. (2009). The choice to abort among mothers living under ecologically deprived conditions: Predictors and consequences. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 7, 405-422.
    • Coleman, P. K., Reardon, D. C., & Cougle, J. R. (2005). Substance use among pregnant women in the context of previous reproductive loss and desire for current pregnancy. British Journal of Health Psychology, 10 (2), 255-268.
    • Coleman, P. K., Reardon, D. C., Strahan, T., & Cougle, J. R. (2005). The psychology of abortion: A review and suggestions for future research. Psychology and Health, 20, 237-271.
    • Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M. & Coyle, C.T. (2009). Induced abortion and intimate relationship quality in the Chicago Health and Social Life Survey. Public Health, 123, 331-338.DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2009.01.005.
    • Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., Coyle, C.T. & Maxey, C.D. (2007). Induced abortion and child-directed aggression among mothers of maltreated children. Internet Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology, 6 (2), ISSN: 1528-8374.
    • Coleman, P. K., Rue, V., & Spence, M. (2007). Intrapersonal processes and post-abortion relationship difficulties: A review and consolidation of relevant literature. Internet Journal of Mental Health, 4 (2).
    • Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., Spence, M. & Coyle, C.T. (2008). Abortion and the sexual lives of men and women: Is casual sexual behavior more appealing and more common after abortion? International Journal of Health and Clinical Psychology, 8 (1), 77-91.
    • Cougle, J. R., Reardon, D. C., & Coleman, P. K. (2005). Generalized anxiety following unintended pregnancies resolved through childbirth and abortion: A cohort study of the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 19, 137-142.
    • Coyle, C.T., Coleman, P.K. & Rue, V.M. (2010). Inadequate preabortion counseling and decision conflict as predictors of subsequent relationship difficulties and psychological stress in men and women. Traumatology, 16 (1), 16-30. DOI:10.1177/1534765609347550.
    • Dingle, K., et al. (2008). Pregnancy loss and psychiatric disorders in young women: An Australian birth cohort study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 193, 455-460.
    • Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Boden, J.M. (2009). Reactions to abortion and subsequent mental health. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 195, 420-426.
    • Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Ridder, E. M. (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 16-24.
    • Gissler, M., et al. (2005). Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000. European Journal of Public Health, 15, 459-463.
    • Hemmerling, F., Siedentoff, F., & Kentenich, H. (2005). Emotional impact and acceptability of medical abortion with mifepristone: A German experience. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 26, 23-31.
    • Mota, N.P. et al (2010). Associations between abortion, mental disorders, and suicidal behaviors in a nationally representative sample. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(4), 239-246.
    • Pedersen, W. (2008). Abortion and depression: A population-based longitudinal study of young women. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36, No. 4, 424-428.
    • Pedersen, W. (2007). Childbirth, abortion and subsequent substance use in young women: a population-based longitudinal study. Addiction, 102 (12), 1971-78.
    • Reardon, D. C., & Coleman, P. K. (2006). Relative treatment for sleep disorders following abortion and child delivery: A prospective record-based study. Sleep, 29 (1), 105-106.
    • Rees, D. I. & Sabia, J. J. (2007). The Relationship between Abortion and Depression: New Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Medical Science Monitor. 13(10): 430-436.
    • Suliman et al. (2007) Comparison of pain, cortisol levels, and psychological distress in women undergoing surgical termination of pregnancy under local anaesthesia versus intravenous sedation. BMC Psychiatry, 7 (24), p.1-9.

    • womenhealthpros July 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm Reply

      While I have not read most of the studies you listed, the ones I have read (and those of a similar nature) all tend to have similar flaws. They rarely take into consideration a woman’s previous mental health status as well as any family history of mental health issues. They also tend to have flawed samples which are drawn from women who have reached out for counseling. Though some women do experience regret and sadness after an abortion, the most reliable predictors of a serious negative reaction are a history of mental health issues and being unsure of their decision.

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