Uninformed Consent: Abortion and Mental Health Consequences

Uninformed Consent: Abortion and Mental Health Consequences
Warren Throckmorton, PhD

Recent research from Norway and New Zealand has reported an association between abortion and subsequent mental health problems. Although the two reports are not the first to suggest such a relationship, they are well-designed studies suggesting that abortion may be linked to negative mental health reactions for some women.

The Norwegian study compared the experiences of women who had miscarriages with those who had abortions. Six months after pregnancy termination, women who had a miscarriage were more distressed than women who had abortions. However, after 5 years, women who had abortions were more likely to suffer anxiety and thoughts of the event than women who miscarried.

The New Zealand study, published by the British Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that 42% of women who had an abortion later developed mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. This percentage was significantly higher than never pregnant women and women who were pregnant but who did not terminate the pregnancy. The study concluded, “Abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems.”

Are women being advised of these risks?

Read the rest of the article at DrThrockmorton.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/5241246 Norm!

    I haven’t read the study, so I’m dependent on news accounts regarding the study’s actual number. So, when you write “42%”, you really mean to say that approximately 38 of 90 New Zealand women who had abortions experienced some type of depression.

    I think it is a significant omission to not mention how large the study was since using a percentage would suggest that the number of people studied was too vast to number. I have noticed that many of the on-line discussions and articles about this study have been misleading about the number of women studied who experienced abortions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    The sampling was representative of the NZ population which makes it a very strong study. Much stronger than studies that ask for volunteers. This is true on either side of the issue. No one is saying all women experience problems. I suspect there is a group who never think a thing about it and a group that has mixed reactions and then a group that has pathological regret. What troubles me is the pro-choice side avoiding any comment or recognition that some evidence points to harm. If a pro-lifer said all abortions were psychologically harmful to the mother I would reject that position as well.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting, however, now a days we also know about “post partum stress” related syndroms that can lead to depression: Are women going to stop having babies because of that? I guess the answer is no.

    In case that the study mentioned in the article is reliable, the call is:
    - Further research
    - More treatment available
    - Measures that strengthen and ensure proper sex education that include use of contraception from a cientific point of view.
    - pre/post follow up and couselling for the women that decide to have an abortion.

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