Abortion and Mental Health Controversy Reignited by New Study

Charge of Bias in Previous Reviews Supported By New Study Published by Royal College of Psychiatrists

Springfield, IL (September 2, 2011) – Up to 10 percent of mental health problems among women may be affected by a history of abortion, according to a new review published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in their British Journal of Psychiatry.  

Publication of this new review, which included 877,181 women from six countries, has reawakened accusations that the American Psychological Association Task Force on Abortion and Mental Health deliberately understated abortion’s mental health risks for ideological reasons.

On the surface, the findings of the new review appear to contradict the conclusions published by the task force in in 2008, which stated that a “single abortion” of an “unwanted” pregnancy for an “adult” woman did not “in and of itself” pose significant mental health risks.

According to an expert in the field, Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, that carefully nuanced conclusion was designed to obscure rather than clarify the risks of abortion.

“When you study the details of the APA report, you will notice that they provide only scant information on the statistics reported in each study,” he said. ” And they certainly never lay the findings side by side as was done in this new meta-analysis.  Still, if you pay close attention you will find reluctant admissions that certain subgroups of women are at higher risk.”

For example, the APA review admits that multiple abortions may be problematic. But it then fails to mention that fully half of all abortions are second, third or fourth abortions.

Similarly, Reardon notes that APA recognizes that abortions of wanted pregnancies, and cases where women feel pressured to abort by other people, are also clearly problematic. But these cases may account for 30 to 65 percent of all abortions.   Abortions for minors are also known to be associated with elevated suicide rates.

He said the APA’s conclusion is misleading precisely because it is nuanced to describe the minority of abortion cases, those for adult women, having a single abortion, for whom there is no pressure to abort.

“Reading between the lines, it is actually an admission that the majority of abortions may be problematic, but it was never reported that way,” he said.

He added that “regarding the APA’s additional nuance that there is insufficient evidence to prove that abortion ‘in and of itself’ is the sole cause of mental illness, proving that any experience is the sole cause of mental illness is nearly impossible. So framing the issue as requiring proof that abortion is the sole cause of mental illness sets an impossibly high standard.

“However, no informed person can deny that abortion can be a contributing factor which can trigger, aggravate, complicate, and/or delay recovery from mental illness. To deny this fact would require you to deny the that women are intelligent, self-aware persons who know why they are grieving.”

Reardon believes this new review is much more objective and useful for informing physicians, nurses, mental health care workers, and the public about what the research really reveals.

“The APA could have and should have used an objective approach like this one,” he said. “Instead, they deliberately obscured the clear trend in research findings by employing highly subjective reasons to dismiss, ignore, or obscure findings which did not mesh with their preconceived conclusions.

“This new review proves that when you use a standardized method of laying out the results of all the studies side by side, the trend is unmistakable.”

Reardon noted that the reliability of the APA Task Force report is further called into question by the fact that the task force chair, Dr. Brenda Major, has refused to allow her own data on abortion and mental health to be reanalyzed by other researchers.

“This behavior is especially egregious since it violates the APA’s own ethics rules requiring data sharing,” he said.

Reardon has posted a video that (1) discusses the main findings of the study, (2) provides a brief tutorial on interpreting the graphs confidence intervals shown in the study, and (3) describes how the APA Task Force on Abortion and Mental Health fashioned a very nuanced statement to summarize it’s findings in a way that obscured the truth and ensured misreporting of the evidence by the major media (begins at the 10 minute mark.)

Most Studies Find Abortion Linked to Mental Illness (video)


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Source: Coleman PK. Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009. The British Journal of Psychiatry (2011) 199, 180–186.

And http://afterabortion.org/2008/apa-task-force-on-abortion-and-mental-health/


Abortion and Mental Health Controversy Reignited by New Study — 21 Comments

  1. Pingback: Historic abortion multi-study analysis shows mental harms « Kansans For Life Blog

  2. I just wanted to say I fall into the category of one abortion and at age 16. The thing that makes me stand out is that my abortion was in April 1973 just three months after Roe V Wade, and although abortion had been made legal in the state of Illinois due to Roe V Wade, my abortion was illegal due to the fact that I was two weeks into my second trimester and it was clearly only legal then in the first trimester.

    The other thing was that my parents, who are both pastors’ children, forced me to do it and my father was/is a minister. I was very much in love with the father of the child and I was very much terrified of my parents, especially my mother. They are fundamentalist Christians and my mother told me years later I was going to hell for converting to another faith. The cognitive dissonance this woman exhibits is unbelievable.

    I am one of the lucky ones. I am lucky in that I was able to hang on to my sanity through an insane situation. I also received no pain meds and was fully awake and was screamed at by the doctor for crying and asking how long before it was over? I was lied to by the entire abortion establishment and they nearly killed me.

    The day after I got home I passed one of my baby’s hands when I went to the bathroom. I went into shock. I believe I have suffered from PTSD for years and just a couple years ago actually had a break through when I finally allowed my anger to come out.

    My entire family decided I needed to be put into an institution, at the leading of my mom. They did nothing to put me away as they discussed the cost and dropped it. Such a loving bunch of Christian folk. I have nothing to do with any of them anymore.

    I wanted you to know about this as I would be willing to share my story and expose an area of this horrible CHILD SACRIFICIAL system to the world. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to know any additional information or whatever I can do to help in that regard.
    God bless you for your work!

    • Hi Diana,
      I just want to say one thing and that is I am so sorry you had to go through
      what you did. Your parents may appear to be Christians but they too have been
      deceived by the lie of abortion. Our 20 year old daughter is also pregnant, her boyfriend and and herself wanted to keep the baby and get married. Well they got married this Saturday just passed and she is now 17 weeks pregnant. For us as Christian parents it was difficult but Jesus has taught us to love unconditionally just as He loves us.
      I understand that you don’t see your parents, and the trauma they caused you.
      Nevertheless, please try and forgive them as it will only create bitterness in you. This can only be through Jesus. The true loving, forgiving and the Jesus
      who never leaves nor forsakes you. It doesn’t mean you have to see them, and
      it doesn’t mean you have to forget what they did to you.
      I had my parents do things to me I wont mention. They also tried to have me put
      into an institution. My father was a preacher too, to the church people they were
      so holy and righteous, yet how they treated their own children was totally opposite. After all they have to keep their reputations in tack.
      Thank you for sharing your story. I would like to use your story over here in Australia. If you wouldn’t mind, can you send me your email address through our website abortsa.com?

    • Hi Diana well I just wanted to tell you sorry and thank you for sharing your story and I really hope that you story can change a lot of women’s minds. I don’t believe abortion is the best choice even though some women think it’s their only choice and the best. I ‘m really sorry that you had to go through that and I hope that one day you can forgive your parents for what they did to you and you baby. I don’t think I would have listened to them. I think I would have left their house but again those were hard times I understand.

      Now let me tell you my story. I got pregnant when I was 17 and my boyfriend got sent to jail and I decided to take my baby and take care of her. She is now 7 months and she is my life my everything and I’m really thankful to Jesus that he gave me a healthy baby. My parents never mentioned anything about having an abortion but I’m happy I decided to parent my baby.

    • Diana,
      I can not even begin to imagine the amount of pain and suffering that his has put you through. I can’t even imagine this procedure without shaking and becoming all teary. I am so sorry you had to go through with this. I send you my sympathies, and I pray to God for the courage to fight those people who think that inflicting this sort of torture on others is acceptable!

    • Now I am 61 years and finally realize that i am not going to have any children..except for my baby in Heaven as I usually say now. This am. i heard a woman talk about working at Planned Parenthood and also how she had had two abortions(at least). I realize now after hearing that story that my baby actually felt the abortion and that she was alive and didn’t want to die…. I regret being so easily swayed by a society of medical professionals who so strongly encourage you to have an abortion. i also hate it when people try to make me feel that i am entirely to blame. The Doctors know what they are doing and so do the nurses. I was told about two years ago that i had a problem with Authority by a former policeofficer who is supposed to be a christian. I wonder why when it was actually Authority /Medical persons who took my baby away from me. I cannot see how any woman is in her right mind when she agrees to abort her own child.
      That was the only time I was pregnant. The man got me pregnant on purpose and had NO INTENTION of ever helping or being responsible in any way at all. i was far from family and had no confidence that they would help.
      Now I have a kind of loneliness and am without family of my own. I live in a very conservative city wherein I feel judged and condemned by many,many people and so many are Christian. If only….if only…. I hate abortion so much and i also hate that women so often get ALL the blame instead of rationally realizing that the whole society is promoting it.
      Thanks for sharing.Elizabeth(I had named my daughter:Miranda Lees. Today I added Rose in the middle,short for Rosebud. IN MY RIGHT MIND I WOULD NEVER,EVER AGREE TO ABORT ANY CHILD..EVER.

      • Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your story. What a heart-wrenching experience for you. I am sorry for the words or actions of anyone who made you feel judged and condemned. You are right in that those in authority may often push, pressure or coerce women and girls into abortion (this can happen to the fathers too). No matter who does this, it is wrong, and I’m very sorry it happened to you.

        One of the things we are trying to do is make people aware that abortion is not always freely chosen, and that most abortions involve some sort of pressure or coercion. Women deserve real options and support rather than being pushed, pressured or even forced to abort. There are those who recognize (or are coming to recognize) that we need to do better in helping who have been in this situation rather than simply blaming women.

        If you would like to talk to someone about your experience, or work through any unresolved issues that you might still be struggling with, there are counseling and support groups available. You can find out more on the healing page on TheUnChoice site at http://www.theunchoice.com/healing.htm.

    • I am so very sorry for what happened to you. I feel for you. I had two abortions when I was 22, and was just really naive about babies. I knew nothing. I’m 37 now, but struggle with it all of the time. My sweet sister-in-law sent me information about Rachel’s Vineyard. I’m going to attend, and speak out even more vocally for the unborn-the voiceless. They need every single one of us to speak for them. If anyone is reading this that is thinking about having an abortion- I want to say- Love your Baby with all of your heart, and have courage. Your precious baby will thank you one day for giving them beautiful life. Don’t wonder what could have been, but what could be. Love banishes fear. Don’t be afraid, just have love.

      • I love what you said. Love your baby with all your heart, and have courage. Your precious baby will thank you one day for giving them beautiful life. Don’t wonder what could have been, but what could be. LOVE BANISHES FEAR. DONT BE AFRAID, JUST HAVE LOVE!

        I was raped at 22 and had an abortion which I regret. The pain and grief from this loss run deep. I now have a beautiful little girl named Exenia who is now five years old. When I became pregnant at 39, my family wanted me to abort her since my husband was in poor health and drinking daily to kill his pain. I went to an organization called Hope House that was very supportive in the beginning. I spoke to an adoption specialist but decided to keep my baby and raise her myself. They disagreed with my decision and I had to leave at eight months pregnant. But if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing! I would not abort my daughter or give her up for adoption. She was a gift from God as I always wanted to have a little girl. Although it has been very challenging at times with her father being in such poor health and finances tight, I would do it all over again if I had to. I am so glad I did not listen to others advice.

  3. Pingback: Women who have abortions ‘face double the risk of mental health problems’ | Mail Online | Softer Stones

  4. Thank you for all that you do. I also got my !st abortion when i was 16 . I was in love with the father and i feel i ws forced into it. He was made to break up with me just weeks after and threatende to be sent away if we were cuaght together. He bacame a reaging alcholic and i became just RAGED. My life after was a downhill spiral for years . I had more after not even kniwing how many until my last time in jail and i woke up dreaming about it. Since then i was giving GODS AMAZING GRACE and i have turned my life around .. But it has been hard. Iam now helping other women make the RIGHT CHIOCE. in fact im going to a confrence in two weeks for a pregnancy center..One thing i didnt see on here was a study about eing abusive to others and your childern. i saw in another study there was 110% that we could abuse our childern. i was floored. Coming fron an abusive home . That is very scary..

  5. Diana tears trickled down my face on reading this, i am a 16 year old girl and i have had an abortion approximately a month and a few weeks ago,Truly was one of the worst thing i ever done, love my boyfriend very much, been together since i was 13.. never expected this would have happened to me!.. no1 knows an just wanted 2 share this with people i can relate to.. So sorry to hear about u all stories 🙁
    God is good,

  6. I am 16,
    Had an abortion about 4 months ago. I was pregnant with twins. I so badly wanted to keep the babies so I didn’t tell anyone. I went to 3 doctor visits &on the 3rd visit the doctor told me that one of the babies had died. I then told my boyfriend everything an he was shocked. We both didn’t have jobs so we couldnt be able to give the baby a good life. I cried so hard but eventually he convinced me that we shouldn’t keep the baby. I didn’t want to do it but I did. I was scared of my mom and what her reaction would be. After the abortion I felt like a murderer. I cried every single day for months, I still get sad to this day. Ever since then I’ve been so depressed. :'(
    Someone please, tell me how I can feel better? I don’t want to cry any more…

    • Please go to our page on healing and get some tips on finding a post-abortion support group. If there isn’t one near you, at least call one of the groups and talk over the phone. There are so many women who have been where you are emotionally who now want to help you.

      Don’t give up hope. There are so many people who care and can help you. You are in our prayers.

  7. Estoy embarazada, tengo 6 semanas de embarazo y no tenia planes de tener más hijos. Estoy considerando el aborto, de hecho he firmado el consentimiento requerido por las leyes de USA. He tenido 5 hijos, de los cuales, 4 viven conmigo. Mi situación económica actual es mala, tengo problemas de salud, aunque no son muy serios, como problemas dentales que requieren atención, etc, a los cuales no he podido acceder debido a mi situación económica. Tengo 35 años de edad, y siento que tener otro bebe agravaría la situación financiera de la familia y mi salud, la relación con mi pareja no es del todo la mejor, hemos tenido problemas grandes, eso también me motiva a elegir el aborto como opción. Me siento cobarde y débil, por no enfrentar la situación con más coraje y responsabilidad. Siento una guerra dentro de mi, no estoy segura que el aborto sea la solución correcta, y por otro lado, lo veo como la solución necesaria para evitar una mayor desgracia económica y deterioro de mi salud. Es difícil y mucho, no sé en que va a terminar esto, y me preocupa mucho por mis otros hijos.

    • Rezo para que reconsidere. No caer de la mentira que aborto solucionará sus problemas. Inevitablemente hará trampa usted, negando la corrección y causando mucho más daño y dolor que usted puede imaginar ahora.

      Hay tantas personas y recursos que hay para ayudarle a superar este momento difícil. Diríjase a los centros de ayuda de embarazo y recursos de la iglesias. Cada vida es un regalo de Dios. No rechazar este regalo, y Dios abrirá nuevas puertas y oportunidades para proveerle a usted y su familia una vida mejor.

      Lea más acerca de la ayuda que se puede obtener aquí: http://www.theunchoice.com/pregnancyhelp.htm

  8. Our 15 year old daughter has the abortion pill at the weekend. We are a christian family and I NEVER thought I would support someone to do this. Please do not judge us. I had a baby at 15 and it also affected me greatly, I love my son dearly but I have had a very hard time in my life. We found she was pregnant on Thursday and everything moved so quickly- which I accept is my fault, by Friday afternoon she had the first pill and by Saturday the final part. I seemed to be in a zone and blotted out what we were really doing. Now it is too late. I feel such guilt, I reason with myself that I let her do it for the right reasons. Now I worry I am damaged her beyond repair 🙁

    • All I can suggest is that you should tell her that you now are second guessing yourself, and that you apologize if you in any way encouraged her to make a decision that she will one day regret. Make clear that if ever she wants to or needs to talk about it, that you are there for her and ready to accept your responsibility in shaping the decision.

      This is very important so you can give her “permission to grieve” with you. Otherwise, she may assume you don’t want to talk about it, or that you’re blaming her, or simply that if she does have any troubles coping . . . to think that won’t understand or will be inclined to tell her to just tough it out, et cetera.

      Even if she is not ready to talk, or is successfully repressing any negative reactions, it is important to at least let her know that you are feeling guilt and that you do want to be there for her if and when she has any emotional issues related to the abortion, or anything else in her life. Don’t push her to feel things or to share her feelings. But just share your own feelings and let her know that you are there to listen and not judge.

      Be ready to encourage her in seeking post-abortion counseling if she begins to face any difficult times.

      Finaly, you might consider attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat or other post-abortion program for yourself. Grandparents who were involved in an abortion decision who feel guilt, as you are not feeling, are also welcome and can also benefit from post-abortion healing programs.

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