by Steven Ertelt
October 24, 2005
Springfield, IL (LifeNews.com) — For decades, evidence has existed showing abortion contributes to a rise in child abuse. Now a new study by a post-abortion research institute and Bowling Green State University professors finds that women who have abortions are more likely to abuse their children.
Published in the medical journal Acta Paediatrica, the study found that women who have had abortions are 2.4 times more likely to physically abuse their children. Pro-life advocates say it proves the need for providing women with post-abortion counseling to help deal with the emotional trauma of the abortion.
Led by Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green, researchers looked at data taken from a survey of 518 low-income women in Baltimore who were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children and who had at least one child aged 12 years or younger.
The data compared rates of child abuse and neglect among women who had experienced either an involuntary (miscarriage or stillbirth) or voluntary (induced abortion) pregnancy loss.
Women who had a miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to physically abuse their children as well, but the increase was much less significant than for women who had abortions.
The authors suggested that "emotional difficulties and unresolved grief responses" from pregnancy loss, whether voluntary or involuntary, could have a negative impact on women’s mental health and lead to unhealthy parenting responses.
According to the Illinois-based Elliot Institute, which released information about the study’s findings, prior surveys "have linked pregnancy loss to an increase in grief reactions, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which can have a negative impact on parent/child relationships."
The post-abortion research group also points to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology that found abortion has been linked to an increase in substance abuse and thoughts of suicide, which could also contribute to child abuse.
The new study also found that women who had more than one miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to engage in child abuse than women who had just one. However, women who had abortions were more likely to abuse their children whether they had one or more than one abortion.
"Regardless of the specific mechanisms at play, maternal history of one induced abortion does appear to be a marker for increased risk of physical abuse," the authors concluded.
According to Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, who has worked on more than a dozen published studies documenting abortion’s negative impact on women, many women either feel a need to keep the abortion a secret or are told to simply "move on" when they try to discuss their pain.
Reardon said that greater attention needs to be focused on the long-term effects of abortion on women and their families.
"The common perception seems to be that abortion solves the immediate problem of a crisis pregnancy and that therefore it must be a positive thing for women," he said. "However, more and more studies such as this one show that abortion can have a severe and lasting impact on women’s lives, shaping their futures and the futures of their families for years to come."
Study Citation: Priscilla K. Coleman, Charles D. Maxey, Vincent M. Rue, and Catherine T. Coyle, "Associations between voluntary and involuntary forms of pregnancy loss and child maltreatment among low-income mothers," Acta Paediatrica 94, 2005.