As the debate over whether to allow abortion in Ireland continues, an Irish professor has stated that the claim that abortion is bad for women’s mental health is a “fringe view” that is not supported in science or medicine.
Veronica O’Keane, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, told the The Irish Times that having to travel outside Ireland for abortions is traumatic for women, saying “you can’t have good mental health in the absence of basic rights” — meaning abortion.
In fact, multiple studies do find an increased risk of mental health problems among women following abortion.
In 2011, a review published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at the combined results of all studies on abortion’s mental health impact that were published between 1995 and 2009 and met strict inclusion criteria. The resulting analysis included 877,181 women from six countries.
The review found that 10 percent of mental health problems among women, including 35 percent of suicidal behaviors, may be attributable to abortion. Women who aborted were 81 percent more likely to experience mental health problems compared to all other control groups, and 55 percent more likely to have problems compared to women who delivered an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
And a recent study in the United States found that women who had abortions were more likely to be at increased risk of mental health disorders.The study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and followed more than 8,000 women for a period of 13 years:
After adjusting for demographic differences and other factors, the study found that abortion during these years elevated a woman’s risk of mental health disorder by 45 percent.
“One-eleventh of the prevalence of mental disorders examined over the period were attributable to abortion,” the study’s abstract said.
The study sought to examine any links between pregnancy outcomes like birth, abortion or miscarriage and mental health outcomes for U.S. women during the transition to adulthood. It drew on a national study of 8,005 women that surveyed them three times at average ages of 15, 22 and 28.
Involuntary pregnancy loss was associated with a 24 percent elevated risk of mental disorder, while childbirth was “weakly associated” with reduced risk of mental disorder.
Abortion Has No Benefits, But Does Have Risks
And while abortions claim that abortions benefit women who don’t plan to be pregnant, a meta-analysis combining the results of eight studies of women who experienced unwanted pregnancies, published in 2013, concluded that “there is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy.”
Lead author Professor David Fergusson, who has described himself in interviews as a pro-choice atheist, also led the research team in a 2008 study that concluded that women who continued an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy did not experience a significant increase in mental health problems. Further, having an abortion did not reduce their mental health risks.
“In general, there is no evidence in the literature on abortion and mental health that suggests that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted or mistimed pregnancy,” the authors wrote. “Although some studies have concluded that abortion has neutral effects on mental health, no study has reported that exposure to abortion reduces mental health risks.”
Risk Factors Acknowledged by Abortion Supporters
Even the 2008 Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, issued by a group of psychologists who support abortion, listed 15 risk factors which can be used to identify the women who are at greater risk of psychological problems after an abortion:
- “terminating a pregnancy that is wanted or meaningful”
- “perceived pressure from others to terminate a pregnancy”
- “perceived opposition to the abortion from partners, family, and/or friends”
- “lack of perceived social support from others”
- “low self-esteem”
- “a pessimistic outlook”
- “low perceived control”
- “a history of mental health problems prior to the pregnancy”
- “feelings of stigma”
- “perceived need for secrecy”
- “exposure to antiabortion picketing”
- “use of avoidance and denial coping strategies”
- “feelings of commitment to the pregnancy”
- “ambivalence about the abortion decision”
- “low perceived ability to cope with the abortion prior to the abortion”
The insistence on that abortion has no impact on mental health doesn’t match the evidence. The Elliot Institute has called for congressional hearings to investigate the risks of mental heath problems after abortion.
Women’s Suicide Rates Higher After Abortion: New Study
Most Studies Show Abortion Linked to Increased Mental Health Problems
Study Finds Abortion Provides No Mental Health Benefits to Women, Even When Pregnancy is Unwanted
Abortion Has No Benefits, But Does Have Risks
More Research Articles
Online Bibliography of Studies on the Detrimental Effects of Abortion