Mental Health:Studies

Studies on Mental Health

Study from New Zealand: 2013

A paper titled "Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence" was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry in April 2013 and confirmed: "There is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy".

Researchers found aborting an unwanted child had no therapeutic value in reducing the mental health risks during a study conducted at the Department of Psychological Medicine of the University of Otago in Christchurch. Instead, the evidence suggests that abortion may be associated with an increased risk of some mental health problems.

As part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, Professors David Fergusson, John Horwood, and Joseph Boden analyzed data from eight recent New Zealand studies that looked at levels of anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse, illicit drug use/misuse, and suicidal behavior in post-abortion women compared to those who carried their pregnancies to term.

"The growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence,” the researchers concluded.

Read the paper here...

Study from Canada: 2010

A paper titled 'Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders, and Suicidal Behavior in a Nationally Representative Sample' was published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in April 2010 and confirmed 'a strong association between abortion and mental disorders'.

The Canadian researchers used the National Co-morbidity Survey (NCS) replication data collected between 2001 and 2003.

Study from USA: 2009

Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in September 2011, this study found that women who underwent an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems. It also found that almost 10% of all women's mental health problems are directly linked to abortion.

Conducted by Priscilla K. Coleman, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA, the study was based on an analysis of 22 separate studies and 36 measures of effect, that involved a total of 877,181 participants of whom 163,831 had experienced an abortion. The study took into account pre-existing mental health problems prior to the abortion.

An abstract of the study titled “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009” with links to the full text is available on the British Journal of Psychiatry website here.

Read more on this study here...

Study from New Zealand 2009

Reactions to abortion and subsequent mental health

David M. Fergusson, PhD, L. John Horwood, MSc and Joseph M. Boden, PhD

This report conducted by Professor David Fergusson and a research team at New Zealand's University of Otago has found that having an abortion will likely increase a woman's chance of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

The study appeared in the most recent issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry and examined data from a sampling of 500 women who were interviewed six times between the ages of 15 and 30, each time being asked whether they had been pregnant and, if so, what the outcome of that pregnancy had been.

The study revealed that unwanted pregnancy leading to abortion is likely to be a risk factor for mental-health problems that include depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, alcohol dependence, and illicit drug dependence, while unwanted pregnancy that ends in the birth of the baby does not carry the same risk factor.

Read more about the study here...

Study from New Zealand 2008

Abortion and mental health disorders: Evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study

David M. Fergusson, PhD, L. John Horwood, MSc and Joseph M. Boden, PhD

This report concluded that the evidence is consistent with the view that abortion may beassociated with a small increase in risk of mental disorders.Other pregnancy outcomes were not related to increased riskof mental health problems.

Read more about the study here...

Study from USA 2008

What is most notable in this study is that abortion contributed significant independent effects to numerous mental health problems above and beyond a variety of other traumatizing and stressful life experiences. The strongest effects based on the attributable risks indicated that abortion is responsible for more than 10% of the population incidence of alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, drug dependence, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and bipolar disorder in the population. Lower percentages were identified for 6 additional diagnoses.

The reference is: Coleman PK et al., Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating, Journal of Psychiatric Research (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.10.009

Read more about the report here...

Statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2008

In what has been described by pro-life groups throughout Europe as a major victory for the protection of unborn children, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) in London, to which the Irish College of Psychiatrists is closely affiliated, has issued a statement calling on all doctors to warn their patients of the psychological risks of abortion. The College recently invited submissions from practitioners in both Britain and Ireland outlining their professional views on the role of abortion in mental health. The response was such that the RCP has now advised all medical practitioners who are referring women for abortions that they should, and are ethically obliged to, warn their patients of the potential for adverse psychological events following abortion.

This new position came following a major review of the available evidence on the adverse effects of abortion on women's mental health. The RCP says that there is a risk of mental health breakdown following abortion and recommends that women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counseled on the possible risk to their mental health.

The psychiatrists say that the damage caused by having an abortion outweigh any psychiatric risks of continuing with a crisis pregnancy. The new position is a complete reversal of the view previously held, which was thought to be ideologically motivated and ignored the adverse effects of abortion on women.

Pro-life psychiatrists, who was involved in the consultation process, welcomed the new statement. ‘We have been warning for many years of the physical and psychological/psychiatric effects of abortion. While the pro-abortion lobby would like to ignore women after abortion, we have always been available to render help and assistance since we first discovered the problems of post-abortion symptoms and syndromes,' he said.

Read the statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists here...

Report published in Psychology & Health 2007

Women’s reflections upon their past abortions: An exploration of how and why emotional reactions change over time. By P Goodwin & J Ogden. Published in Psychology and Health February 2007; 22(2): 231–248.

Read the report here...

Report from New Zealand 2005

In 2006, Prof David Fergusson et al issued an article in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychology entitled Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health. It found that those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders. This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors.

Read the Fergusson Report here...

Report from Norway 2005

A report was published in Norway in 2005 detailing The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. It found that women who had experienced a  miscarriage had m ore mental di stress at 10  days  and six months after the pregnancy termination than women who had undergone  an abortion.

However, women who had had a  miscarriage exhibited significantly quicker improvement on IES scores for avoidance, grief, loss, guilt and anger throughout the observation period. Women who experienced induced abortion had significantly greater IES scores for avoidance and for the feelings of guilt, shame and relief than the miscarriage group at two and five years a fter the pregnancy termination.

Read the Norweigan Report here...

Report from Sweden 1998

A Swedish study examined emotional distress (ranging from 1 month to 12 months follow-up) after abortion at a university hospital. Risk factors identified were: living alone, poor emotional support from family and friends, adverse postabortion change in relations with partner, underlying ambivalence or adverse attitude to abortion, and being actively religious. The researchers concluded: AThus, 50-60% of women undergoing induced abortion experienced some measure of emotional distress, classified as severe in 30% of cases. (Soderberg, Janzon & Sjoberg, 1998:173)

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is relatively common following childbirth. It, however, is almost entirely unpredictable. It does not bear any particular relationship to whether or not a woman had mental trouble during her pregnancy. It frequently occurs in a woman who was entirely mentally stable during her pregnancy. Furthermore, these "after the baby blues" are rarely permanent and seldom have relapses. Also, drug treatment usually clears the problem promptly and usually without relapse.

And there is post-abortion psychoses and compared to post-delivery disturbances, they are much more serious, last longer, and are more likely to recur. They are more often the "hard" cases. This had been the experience before abortion legalisation.M. Sim, "Abortion and the Psychiatrist," British Med. Jour., vol.2, 1963, pp. 145-148

After legalisation, a repeat investigation in a larger series of the same problem gave the same result. Of 199 postpartum depressive psychoses, "with two exceptions the prognosis was good." Of 34 post-abortive psychoses, "16 had an adverse prognosis."M. Sim, Instability Associated with Pregnancy, Univ. of Birmingham Press

"The patients clearly functioned well before the abortion and later experienced psychoses precipitated by guilt over the abortion."J. Spaulding & J. Cavernar, "Psychosis Following Therapeutic Abortion," Amer. Jour. Psychiatry, vol. 135, no. 3, March 1978, p. 364