Psychiatric Bulletin publishes David Fergusson editorial on mental health and abortion

I posted extensively on the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion in August, including comments from New Zealand researcher David Fergusson. This month, the Psychiatric Bulletin published an editorial by Dr. Fergusson.

The editorial supports the recent Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement regarding abortion and mental health.

Fergusson’s editorial notes the contrast between a RCP statements in 1994 and 2008. The 1994 view was that no relationship existed between abortion and mental health. Currently, the RCP cautions about the possible effects and suggests post-abortion counseling.

Fergusson notes that such debates are important, especially in the UK since mental health concerns are offered as the major reason a woman is granted an abortion. If mental health status is not improved, or may be worsened, the effects of abortion have major relevance to policy.

He concludes:

It is unlikely that these problems of evidence, uncertainty and the law will be resolved by further medicolegal debates between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. What is required is a well-designed, well-funded and, above all, impartial programme of research into the mental health risks, benefits and consequences of abortion. The recent Royal College of Psychiatrists’ statement makes an important contribution to this process by highlighting the real uncertainties that exist in the current evidence on abortion and mental health.

It is hard for me to read this in any other way but as a critical contrast to the recent APA report.

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  • Sarah Myers

    Dear sir,

    I am speaking as someone who has been through the trauma of abortion. In my opinion woman considering an abortion should be required at least one counseling session before the abortion and after if she decides to follow through with it. I am quite certain I would have changed my mind had I had an educated counselor inform me of the mental and emotional effects of abortion. Years after the death of my child by my own hand, I began to grieve and regret my decision. I am sure there are some situations in which an abortion is the only choice, but for me it was not necessary. I was selfish and wrong. There is no going back after an abortion and it is taking a life. counseling would have been most helpful in my situation.

  • Ruth Ruch

    Dear Sir,

    It has been 19 years since my abortion and it was not until a year ago that I realized it was something I needed to deal with. I was at risk of losing my husband and breaking my family apart because of the emotional problems that the abortion caused me. I was raised to believe that abortion was wrong and when I went through the abortion, emotionally disconnected myself instantly from the child I knew was growing within me to do what I thought I needed to do. I was never counseled at the abortion clinic before the procedure and was noticeably distraught. I cried and screamed throughout the entire procedure, but was continually told that “I would be okay.” Even after the procedure, a nurse came to me in the recovery room, brought me a petrie dish with tissue on it, pointed to a small dark “pen dot” within the tissue and said, “That is the fetus – that’s all it is – now you can be more empathetic to women who have had abortions in the future.” I believed that lie for many years to avoid dealing with the truth of what I had done. I drank heavily for many years, was very overprotective of the children I did have after that – sheltering them to the point where it was unhealthy for them, never enjoyed intercourse with my husband, and believed I was a terrible mother not worthy of anyone’s love. No matter who you are as a woman, when you destroy your own child, there is something inside of you that knows that your decision was completely unnatural. There is no real sense of “relief” after an abortion.

  • ken

    Ruth,

    What was the name and location of this clinic? Do you recall the name of the doctor and/or the nurse you mentioned?

    About how many weeks pregnant were you when you had the abortion?

  • Margaret

    I had an abortion when I was 17. Although in my heart I felt it was wrong because it was legal and the doctors told me it was no big deal -just a sack of cells I went on with it out of desperation and fear.

    This guilt of this abortion took its toll completely on my self esteem and self worth … I felt like a murderer, and even though as time went on I tried to suppress these feelings, they came out in other ways.

    IN my opinion I was exploited at a very vulnerable time as are so many other women. What we are in is a crises, and without legal intervention of counseling and showing what happens in this so called medical procedure, we make uninformend decisions. Decisions that come back to haunt us and rightfully so.

    Now I know for sure that it was cold blooded murder with many accomplices… my goverment legislators and the lawyers for making it legal, the doctors for lying about it being a sac of cells, and any other supposed friend or advocate of abortion that helped convince me that it was the right thing to do. Now with the technology that is out there showing me exactly what my baby looked like and how she suffered by a “choice” that I was encouraged to make at a vulnerable time,is unbelievable cruelty.

    Abortion helps NOONE. It kills an innocent child and harms many, especially the mother. Destrucion is never positive, destroying an unborn childs life should never be an option.

  • Virginia

    I understand that even though my abortion was MY choice and not the fathers, I should not have made the child pay for the mistakes that I had made. The child was an innocent victim of my selfishness and fear. Abortion is bad medicine for women. It does not solve anything.


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