Congress Adds Abortion to Request for Research on Pregnancy, Depression

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 16, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congress Adds Abortion to Request for Research on Pregnancy, Depression

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 16,

Washington, DC ( — Members of the House of Representatives on Monday approved a measure that urges national health entities to expand research into postpartum depression and problems that affect new mothers. However, lawmakers also adopted an amendment from a pro-life congressman that adds abortion to the list of research topics.

The measure, H.R. 20, encourages agencies such as the National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Health to aggressively pursue new and ongoing studies into postpartum depression.

Not wanting Congress to be on record as indicating that only women who carry to term face mental health issues, Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania wanted to include abortion as well.

Studies show a high percentage of women who have abortions suffer from a myriad of mental health problems and Pitts offered a compromise amendment.

Pitt’s provision urges the agencies to investigate the psychological consequences of abortions, though they are under no obligation to do so.

"I believe it is just as important to know the effects of adoption, miscarriage and abortion in order to properly help women," Pitts said, adding that the amendment was not an attempt to make light of postpartum depression.

Last year, a university researcher in New Zealand conducted an extensive study on thousands of women and found that more than 40 percent of those who have abortions suffer from mental health problems following an abortion.

Some 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.

According to the study, women who have abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.

David Fergusson, a professor who backs legal abortions and led the study, said the results show access to legal abortions is not necessarily good for women. He also said the study confirms abortions cause women mental health issue — rather than alleviating them as abortion advocates claim.

Meanwhile, researchers at Bowling Green State University in 2004 examined data on nearly 11,000 women between the ages of 15 and 34 who had experienced an unintended pregnancy.

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.

The Pitts amendment is a nonbinding sense of Congress endorsing studies into mental health effects abortions have and the agencies could spend part of the $3 million into research for these purposes.

The House eventually approved the bill on a 382-3 vote and now it heads to the Senate for its consideration.