Norwegian women who undergo abortions are more likely to experience negative feelings afterwards than are women who have miscarriages

New Study Shows Abortion’s Negative Impact

Findings Underscore Elliot Institute Studies Showing Mental Health Problems After Abortion

A new survey of Norwegian women has found that those who undergo abortions are more likely to experience negative feelings afterwards than are women who have miscarriages.

Women were asked to chart their feelings at 10 days, six months, and two years after experiencing an abortion or miscarriage. The results showed that 17 percent of the post-abortive women surveyed scored high on a scale measuring “avoidance” symptoms — such as avoidance of reminders of the abortion and nightmares or flashbacks. Aborting women were also more likely to experience feelings of regret, guilt, and shame.

In contrast, only 3 percent of the women who had experienced miscarriages had such symptoms, researchers said. Those women who experienced negative feelings soon after the abortion or miscarriage were also more likely to experience negative feelings later on, suggesting that women struggling with a past abortion are not just able to “get over it.”

The study, published in the March/April 2004 edition of Psychosomatic Medicine, joins a growing list of studies showing that abortion harms women. This research includes studies from the Elliot Institute, which found that, compared to women who gave birth, women who experienced abortion had higher rates of:

  • Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization. Women who had abortions were 2.6 times more likely to require inpatient psychiatric care in the first 90 days following abortion, and rates of psychiatric treatment remained significantly higher among aborting women for at least four years.

  • Outpatient Psychiatric Treatment. Women who had abortions were more likely than delivering women to require outpatient psychiatric care.

  • Clinical Depression. Compared to women who carried their first unintended pregnancies to term, women who aborted their first pregnancy were at significantly higher risk of clinical depression as measured an average of eight years after their first pregnancies.

  • Long-Term Clinical Depression. Analysis of a federally funded study of American women found that after abortion, women were 65 percent more likely to be at risk for long-term clinical depression after controlling for age, race, education, marital status, history of divorce, income level, and prior psychiatric state.

  • Substance Abuse. Compared to women who carried to term, aborting women were five times more likely to subsequently abuse drugs or alcohol.

For citations to these studies, see the Recent Research Fact Sheet.

Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 12(2) July-Sept. 2004. Copyright 2004 Elliot Institute.


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