Abortion and Mental Health

The British Journal of Psychiatry recently published a piece of research done by Priscilla K. Coleman from Bowling Green State University. The article, entitled Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009 is a meta-analysis of 22 studies that included over 877,000 participants. Its aim was, in an unbiased apolitical manner, to measure the association between abortion and indicators of adverse mental health. Adverse mental health indicators were considered to have been depression, anxiety, substance use and suicidal behavior.

This review offered the largest quantitative estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion that is currently available in the world literature, according to the author.

She reports that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion. The risk was strongest when abortion was compared with women who had term pregnancies, and the mental health risks most strongly associated pertained to substance use and suicidal behavior.

I am not a statistician, but from what I can glean from the methodology used, it appears to be a pretty solid piece of research.

Think of it…. women who have had an abortion are 81% more likely to suffer from adverse mental health problems, especially substance use and suicidal behavior, as compared to women who either had an unintended pregnancy delivered, an intended pregnancy delivered, or “no abortion” which were the control groups. The “no abortion” controls were those in studies where intentionality of the pregnancy was unknown.

We know that mental health problems can arise from many things, so the study further was able to determine that 10% of those adverse problems were attributable to the abortion.

It is a complicated picture, but these results certainly point to the need to reach out to these women who are and will be hurting mentally for various reasons… at least 8 out of 10 of them. It is also imperative that women be told of the 10% attributable risk of mental health problems that can be directly attributed to abortion.

The article can be read at The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2011, 199: 180-186.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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