Springfield, IL (November 16, 2004) -- Post-traumatic reactions to induced abortion may be far
more common than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Medical
Science Monitor. Sixty-five percent of American women studied experienced multiple symptoms
of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which they attributed to their abortions. Slightly over
14 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion induced PTSD.
Researchers gathered data from women seeking general health care treatment at clinics and
hospitals in both the United States and Russia. Women with a history of pregnancy loss,
including miscarriage or abortion, were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their
The subsample used in this study included 331 Russian women and 217 American women.
American women were significantly more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to
their abortions, while Russian women were more likely to report disruption of cognitive schema,
which is described as the equivalent of one's "psychological road map" for understanding the
world and one's place in it.
Both Russian and American women were more likely to experience negative reactions to abortion
if they had prior negative opinions of abortion, felt pressured into unwanted abortions, were more
religious, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion. American women were more
likely to report being exposed to one or more of these risk factors. For example, 64 percent of
American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian
women. In addition, only 25 percent of American women reported receiving adequate counseling
prior to their abortions compared to 64 percent of the Russian women.
American and Russian women reported fewer postive reactions to abortion than negative ones.
The most commonly reported positive reaction was relief, but only 7 percent of
Russian women and 14 percent of American women attributed this feeling to their abortions.
American women were more likely to attribute to their abortion subsequent thoughts of suicide
(36 percent), increased use of drugs or alcohol (27 percent), sexual problems (24 percent),
relationship problems (27 percent), guilt (78 percent), and an inability to forgive themselves (62
percent). Approximately two percent of the American women studied attributed a subsequent
psychiatric hospitalization to their abortion.
"This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different
countries," said Dr. Vincent Rue, the lead author of the study and a traumatologist who heads the
Institute for Pregnancy Loss. "It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic
symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions. These results will help
mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological
complications of abortion."
Other peer-reviewed studies have linked abortion to increased
risk of depression,
anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, sleep disorders, mental health
disorders and other problems. Recent studies have also
linked abortion to higher rates of death from heart disease, which investigators believe may be a
long term effect of elevated rates of anxiety and depression.
Because of the increasing concern about the mental health effects of abortion on women,
legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand funding for treatment programs and
research in this area.
# # #
Citing: Rue VM, Coleman PK, Rue JJ, Reardon DC. Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A
preliminary comparison of American and Russian women. Med Sci Monit, 2004 10(10): SR5-16.
The article can be downloaded free of charge at
Media interviews can be arranged through Amy Sobie (217) 525-8202