A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by leading American researcher Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University finds women who have an abortion face almost double the risk of mental health problems as women who have their baby.
Coleman’s study is based on an analysis of 22 separate studies which, in total, examine the pregnancy experiences of 877,000 women, with 163,831 women having an abortion. The study also indicated abortion accounts for one in ten of every adverse mental health issue women face as a whole.
“Results indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure,” the study says. “Overall, the results revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 percent of the incidence of mental health problems were shown to be directly attributable to abortion.”
The peer-reviewed study indicated abortion was linked with a 34 percent chance of anxiety disorders, and 37 percent higher possibility of depression, a more than double risk of alcohol abuse (110 percent), a three times greater risk of marijuana use (220 percent), and 155 percent greater risk of trying to commit suicide.
When compared to unintended pregnancy delivered women had a 55% increased risk of experiencing any mental health problem.
Dr. Coleman said she conducted the study “to produce an unbiased analysis of the best available evidence addressing abortion as one risk factor among many others that may increase the likelihood of mental health problems. There are in fact some real risks associated with abortion that should be shared with women as they are counseled prior to an abortion.”
“This review offers the largest estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world literature. The results revealed moderate to high increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. Consistent with evidence-based medicine, this information should be used by health care professionals,” Coleman said. “Recently published, less systematic reviews of the scientific literature on abortion and mental health, including the American Psychological Association report and one by Johns Hopkins researchers among others, are prone to bias, and as a result actively mislead the public.”
The study is a meta-analysis, which is a quantitative or numerical synthesis of data from many previously published studies. In a meta-analysis all studies are not treated equally. Contributions of individual study effects to the overall results are weighted statistically based on sample size.
Only studies that meet very stringent methodologically-based criteria are entered into the analysis; whereas in other types of reviews authors may not reveal the criteria employed or the criteria may be too restrictive (missing valuable studies) or too general (including weak studies in conclusions), Coleman explained. The bottom line is the results are far more reliable than the results of a single study or a qualitative review, because of the wealth of data incorporated and the objective methods for combining effects.
“The paper is being published in a very prestigious journal, the British Journal of Psychiatry, which is considered one of the top psychiatry journals in the world. This means the paper has been extensively scrutinized by well-respected scientists and the results of studies are trusted by practitioners throughout the world,” Coleman said.