New Study Says Abortion Linked to Anxiety Problems for Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Study Says Abortion Linked to Anxiety Problems for Women

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 7, 2004

Springfield, IL ( — A new study shows that women who have abortions of unexpected pregnancies are more likely to experience subsequent problems with anxiety than those who carry the pregnancy to term.

Relying on data from the National Survey of Family Growth, researchers examined nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who had experienced an unintended pregnancy but no previous reports of anxiety.

They found that women who had abortions were 30 percent more likely to report symptoms associated with general anxiety disorder than those who did not have one.

If the results of the study are applied to the general pool of women in the United States who have had an abortion, there may be as many as 40,000 cases of general anxiety disorder as a result of abortions.

"Our study suggests that clinicians treating women with anxiety problems may find it useful to inquire about their clients’ reproductive histories," said Jesse Cougle, M.Sc., the lead author of the study.

Cougle added that, "Women struggling with unresolved issues related to a past abortion may benefit significantly from counseling that addresses this problem."

Because the data associated with the National Survey of Family Growth includes women who have had abortions and did not report this to researchers, the percentage of women suffering from post-abortion anxiety and the number of women in the United States who suffer as a result of their abortions is probably higher.

Women in the study who had abortions and suffered from general anxiety disorder experienced irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a pounding or racing heart, or feelings of unreality.

They also reported feeling worried or anxious for a period of six months or more about unimportant topics or things that were not expected to happen.

The study also found that younger women tend to suffer more emotionally from the abortion than older women.

"Some studies have found that younger women are more likely to experience emotional distress following abortion than older women," Cougle said. "Younger women may feel less control over their decision and may abort under pressure from their parents and partner."

Abortion advocates have frequently said that abortions are less emotionally harmful than carrying a pregnancy to term.

However, this new study follows on the heels of nearly a dozen other surveys published in the last three years linking abortion to increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and death from heart disease, according to the Elliot Institute, an Illinois-based group that monitors abortion’s effect on women and families.

The Elliot Institute is calling on members of Congress to approve legislation to look into the tremendous emotional impact abortion has on women.

Priscilla Coleman, a researcher at Bowling Green State University, and David Reardon, Ph.D., of the Elliot Institute, wrote the study, along with Cougle. It appears in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

See: .Jesse R. Cougle, David C. Reardon, Priscilla K. Coleman. "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, 2005, 19:137-142