Second New Study: Mental Health Problems Up 30% For Women Having Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 30, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Second New Study: Mental Health Problems Up 30% For Women Having Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 30
, 2008

Wellington, New Zealand ( — A second new study points to the link between abortion and subsequent mental health problems for the women who have them. This new study, conducted by a New Zealand professor, comes after American researchers released their own study connecting abortion with numerous negative aftereffects.

Researchers at Otago University reported their findings in the British Journal of Psychiatry and found that women who have abortions have an increased risk of developing mental health problems.

The study found that women who had abortions had rates of mental health problems about 30% higher than other women. The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Abortions increased the risk of severe depression and anxiety by one-third.

The authors concluded that anywhere from 1.5 to 5.5 percent of all mental health disorders seen in New Zealand result from women having abortions.

The American study, released Friday, showed as much as 10 percent of all mental health problems in the U.S. result from abortions.

Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden headed up the study that involved women who were interviewed on six different occasions between the ages of 15 and 30.

They surveyed 500 women who live in the city of Christchurch. It included 284 women who had a total of 686 pregnancies and 117 women who had a total of 153 abortions.

The women were asked whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted, and if this had caused them to be upset or distressed. They were also given a mental health assessment during each interview, to see if they met the diagnostic criteria for major depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol dependence and illicit drug dependence.

Ultimately, the New Zealand team concluded that abortion adversely affects women’s mental health while childbirth and miscarriages do not.

"Other pregnancy outcomes [including live birth] were not related to increased risk of mental health problems," they found.

The team wrote in the medical journal that the results show a "middle ground" position saying that abortions do affect women’s mental health — more so than abortion advocates are willing to acknowledge.

The results do not "support any strong pro-choice positions that imply that abortion is without any mental health effects," they said.

"For some women, abortion is likely to be a stressful and traumatic life event which places those exposed to it at a modestly increased risk of a range of common mental health problems," they added.

The researchers took other confounding factors which might be associated with increased risks of various pregnancy or mental health outcomes into account.

“Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study.” Fergusson D, Horwood LJ and Boden JM (2008). British Journal of Psychiatry, 193: 444-451

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