British Doctors Mislead Women on Abortion-Mental Health Link

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2011   |   1:51PM   |   London, England

Medical groups in England are coming under fire from pro-life advocates for dismissing proven research showing abortion increases mental health risks for women who have them.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges commissioned a review of the link and had the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists carry out the review. The results denied the negative effect of abortion on mental health and Dr Roch Cantwell, chairman of the review’s steering group, claims the results “shows that abortion is not associated with an increase in mental health problems.”

Ironically, the new review follows a September study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by leading American researcher Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, which found 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.

Anthony Ozimic, the communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) dismissed the review as “predictable” and said it flies in the face of peer-reviewed research.

“The NCCMH’s assertions are predictable – the NCCMH’s draft review document published in April ignored many important studies and thus failed to treat the problem with the seriousness it deserves,” Ozimic said. “Clinical case studies* and stories written and told by many women confirm empirical findings of the psychological harms of abortion.”

“Prior mental health may influence mental health after abortion, but does not begin to account for all of the effect,” he continued. “Abortion is associated with severe negative psychological complications for some women. SPUC will, of course, continue scrupulously to review the data in this area, firmly keeping in mind the difference between the violent intrusion of abortion and the fulfillment of a woman’s fertile capacity in childbirth.”

Ozimic pointed to dozens of studies showing abortion adversely affects women when it comes to mental health issues such as addictions to drug or alcohol, suicide ideation, and depression.

Peter Saunders of Christian Medical Fellowship says the new review also found abortion doesn’t improve mental health outcomes for women, either, making it so, technically, 98% of the abortions done in the UK are illegal since they are supposedly done for improving women’s mental health.

“This new Review by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) shows that abortion does not improve mental health outcomes for women with unplanned pregnancies, despite 98% of the 200,000 abortions being carried out in this country each year on mental health grounds,” he says. “This means that doctors who authorize abortions in order to protect a woman’s mental health are doing it on the basis of a false belief not supported by the medical evidence. In other words the vast majority of abortions in this country are technically illegal.”

Saunders, a physician, also points out how the report admits its conclusion that abortion doesn’t hurt women is weak.

“However the strength of evidence for the claim that abortion poses no greater risk to mental health than childbirth is weak as the report itself admits: ‘The evidence for this section of the review was generally rated as poor or very poor…These factors limit the interpretation of the results,'” he noted.

“There are some strong messages to take home for those offering counseling and support to women with unplanned pregnancies,” Saunders concludes. “First, women with unplanned pregnancies need to know that abortion will not reduce their risks of mental health problems relative to giving birth. Second, those who have a past history of mental health problems, who believe that abortion is wrong, who are being put under pressure by their partners or who are experiencing other stressful life events, are at risk of increased rates of post-abortion mental health problems.”

“The first response to an unplanned pregnancy should therefore not be abortion but, as the review rightly recommends, proper support and care for women,” he says. “The first response to an unplanned pregnancy should therefore not be abortion but, as the review rightly recommends, proper support and care for women.”