Planned Parenthood Misleads Women on Abortion’s Mental Health Risks

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 30, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Planned Parenthood Misleads Women on Abortion’s Mental Health Risks

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 30
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is coming under fire for continuing to mislead women about the mental health risks associated with having an abortion. In a statement released Tuesday by PPFA medical director Vanessa Cullins, the abortion business claims there are no emotional or psychological concerns.

Cullins answered a sample question from a Planned Parenthood supporter asking if "having an abortion emotionally and psychologically dangerous."

"No. Most women feel relief after an abortion," Cullins responded.

"But anti-choice extremists make false claims about this. They want people to believe that most women who choose abortion suffer severe and long lasting emotional trauma. This is not true," Cullins added.

"For more than 20 years, most scientific studies have found that emotional reactions to having abortion are relatively positive," Cullins explains.

However, her statements run counter to the latest research studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Dr. David Fergusson, a New Zealand college professor, published the results of a study he conducted in January 2006 which showed women who have abortions are more likely to become severely depressed.

"Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders," said Fergusson, whose study was published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology

According to the study, 42 percent of the women who had abortions had experienced major depression within the last four years. That’s almost double the rate of women who never became pregnant. The risk of anxiety disorders also doubled.

Women who had abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs compared with those who carried their pregnancies to term.

Fergusson’s research was right in line with what professors at Bowling Green State University in Ohio found in 2004. They examined data on nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who had experienced an unintended pregnancy.
Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a research psychologist at BGSU, who published the report in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, said their survey found that women who have abortions of unexpected pregnancies were 30 percent more likely to experience subsequent problems with anxiety than those who don’t have one.

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.

Coleman pointed out that, while having a child as a teen may be problematic, "the risks of terminating seem to be even more pronounced."

"The scientific evidence is now strong and compelling," Coleman said. "Abortion poses more risks to women than giving birth."

In an interview with a New Zealand newspaper about his study, Fergusson said he doesn’t oppose abortion but his results show that abortion is dangerous for women.

"I’m pro-choice but I’ve produced results which, if anything, favor a pro-life viewpoint," he explained. "It’s obvious I’m not acting out of any agenda except to do reasonable science about a difficult problem."

"Our study is strongly suggestive of a link between abortion and developing mental illness," he concluded.

Professor Fergusson plans a followup study next year asking more detailed questions about the women who had abortions.