1. Health
Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

No Evidence that Abortion Causes Mental Health Problems

By August 13, 2008

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A panel of the American Psychological Association reports today that there is no evidence that a single abortion causes mental health issues. In fact, chairwoman of the panel Brenda Major, released the following statement:
“The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective, first-trimester abortion or deliver that pregnancy.”
The study explains that although women who choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy may experience feelings of grief and loss, having an abortion does not cause mental illness – a finding that goes against what many opponents to abortion try to convince women. The report is the result of over two years of research that looked at over 150 studies and ended up with results identical to a similar review by the American Psychological Association in 1990.

Photo Courtesy of Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

November 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm
(1) Lottes says:

“Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables,” they wrote.

“Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders,” they concluded.

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, led the research team that conducted the study.

Together with Catherine Coyle of Edgewood College, researcher Martha Shuping and psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue, they published their results online today at the Journal of Psychiatric Research, a well-established and respected journal.

The researchers found women who had abortions, compared with those who didn’t had a 120% risk for alcohol abuse, with or without dependence, a 145% increased risk of alcohol dependence, 79% increased risk of drug abuse with or without dependence and a 126% increase in the risk of drug dependence.

For mood disorders, the experience of an abortion increased risk of developing bipolar disorder by 167%, major depression without hierarchy by 45% and major depression with hierarchy by 48%.

For anxiety disorders, there was a 111% increased risk for panic disorders, 44% increased risk for panic attacks, 59% increased risk for PTSD, 95% increased risk for agoraphobia with or without panic disorder and a 93% increased risk for agoraphobia without panic disorder.

There was no mental health outcome showing abortion to have decreased the risk or a high risk for women who did not have an abortion.

Some abortion advocates have dismissed the wealth of previous research on the link between abortion and mental health problems by saying factors unrelated to the abortion contributed to them. The scientists found abortion elevated the risks independently of those factors.

“The abortion variable made a significant independent contribution to more mental health outcomes than a history of rape, sexual abuse in childhood, physical assault in adulthood, physical abuse in childhood, and neglect which contributed to between four and ten different diagnoses,” the scholars wrote.

“What is most notable in this study is that abortion contributed significant independent effects to numerous mental health problems above and beyond a variety of other traumatizing and stressful life experiences,” they said.

Ultimately, the authors write that abortion is directly “responsible for more than 10% of the population incidence of alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, drug dependence, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and bipolar disorder in the population.”

The team also found that spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, had an independent effect on 4 of the 15 psychiatric illnesses examined — indicating abortion is significantly more traumatic for women than a miscarriage.

The team relied on a nationally representative sample, the national comorbidity survey, which is widely recognized as the first nationally representative survey of mental health in the United States.

The team wrote that more research is needed to determine why having an abortion causes women to be more susceptible to the mental health problems.

Reference: Coleman PK et al., Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating, Journal of Psychiatric Research (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.10.009.

July 3, 2010 at 8:39 am
(2) Catherine Sonnier says:

This is the first time I have ever read anything about how abortion can affect a person with PTSD or bipolar disorder, (both of which I had at the time of my abortion). my life became totally unmanageable and I got pregnant again, but I did not have another abortion. I suffered through a pregnancy without any meds. (for bipolar). I wish I could be a voice to others out there who feel trapped, ashamed, and guilty before they choose abortion. After hearing my story, I truly believe, some women/girls, would change their minds.

December 30, 2011 at 12:28 am
(3) cecilia says:

I had an abortion when i was sixteen years old, it was not somethings that i had plan on doing. My mother didn’t give me much of a choice, she told me that i either have an abortion or i had to move out. I was scared and i felt alone, i didn’t think that anyone in my family would be on my side and i came from a strict caribbean back ground. i never understood what going through with that decision would do to, every year since 1990 in the fall of that year. i have been so lost sad and depress, i can go months feeling fine and then i will wake up one morning and feel like if i just don’t want to get out of bed or do anything. i had my abortion in the early stages of my pregnancy, but i feel as though i killed my child. i respect everyones choices and decesion on however they choose to live their lives.before you go down that road think long and hard and make sure you do what is wright for you, don’t allow anyone to pressure you into anything you don’t want to do. i can tell you that even though a lot of time has passed, i carry the pain of my decesion with me everyday.

March 19, 2013 at 11:17 am
(4) Sheri says:

I find it hard to believe that anyone would succumb to the thinking that abortion would not impose any emotional stress on a woman. Whether it be short or long term, there are many physical, emotional, spiritual concerns. I personally had a friend at the age of 15 whose parents basically forced her to have an abortion. She was fine prior to this. A while after this procedure, she became severely depressed, angered, and at times violent. This lasted for years. She was on multiple prescription drugs to aid her. I actually lost contact with her after approx. 10 years or so of graduating from H.S. I believe the pain and immense guilt that she suffered was the cause of our long friendship to come to an end. I tried several times to contact her thru her Mom, but the attempts never came to fruition. Abortion is not the way!

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