Suicide Rate Higher After Abortion, Study Shows
A new Elliot Institute study has found that women who have had abortions are more likely to commit suicide than those who have given birth.
The study examined Medi-Cal records for more than 173,000 low-income California women who had abortions or gave birth in 1989. Linking these records to death certificates, the researchers found that women who had state-funded abortions were 2.6 times more likely to die of suicide compared to women who delivered their babies.
The average annual suicide rate per 100,000 women was 3.0 for delivering women, compared to 7.8 for aborting women. The national average suicide rate for women between the ages of 15 and 44 is 5.2 per 100,000 women. This shows that aborted women have a higher suicide rate than women in general, while giving birth actually reduces women’s suicide risk.
“The data clearly shows what we have long suspected: that abortion is harmful rather than helpful to women,” said Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, one of several researchers working on the study.
Reardon said that the Elliot Institute study built on previous research from other countries that found higher death rates among post-abortive women. A study of all women in Finland, for example, found that women who had abortions were three-and-a-half times more likely to die within the next year as women who carried their pregnancies to term.
“The Finland study was one of the largest and most well-done studies ever conducted on abortion,” Reardon said. “Data that is drawn from medical records, as was done both in Finland and in our study, is generally more objective than relying on women’s own descriptions of how abortion affected their lives.”
Reardon said that part of the purpose of the Elliot Institute study was to see if study results in the U.S. would confirm what researchers have been finding in other countries about the connection between abortion and increased rates of suicide.
“We wanted to see if the results of our study would match what was found in Finland and elsewhere,” he said. “In addition, however, because the Finland study only looked at medical data for one year after women aborted or gave birth, we wanted to see if the suicide rate was also higher over a longer period of time.”
In March, Reardon and several colleagues presented the study at the World Congress on Women’s Mental Health, held in Berlin, Germany. They also presented studies that found higher rates of depression, mental illness, miscarriages and substance abuse among post-abortive women compared to women who gave birth.
“In discussing our research, we found that no one expressed any hostility or even doubt about the validity of the findings,” he said. “We hope that some of the people who heard our message will reconsider their position on abortion and maybe even begin warning their patients of the physical and emotional risks.
“We can’t expect an immediate change in attitudes, of course, but I’m confident that we were able to plant some seeds in Berlin,” he added.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, April-June 2001. Copyright 2001, Elliot Institute.