New Study Shows Direct Link Between Abortion and Mental Health Problems
by Steven Ertelt
November 28, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new research study featuring numerous controls and a national data set finds a link between abortion and psychiatric disorders. The study refutes the report the American Psychiatric Association released in August claiming abortion causes no mental health issues for women.
The research team found induced abortions result in increased risks for a myriad of mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders.
The number of cases of mental health issues rose by as much as 17 percent in women having abortions compared to those who didn’t have one and the risks of each particular mental health problem rose as much as 145% for post-abortive women.
For 12 out of 15 of the mental health outcomes examined, a decision to have an abortion resulted in an elevated risk for women.
"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.
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