Saturday, September 3, 2011

Abortion's mental health risks in the news

CORRECTION: I misread the story about the federal court ruling. It did not uphold the the South Dakota law requiring disclosure of psychological risks. Instead, it upheld the law requiring disclosure that a) abortion terminates the life of a human being, and b) women have a right to not have an abortion. I apologize for the inconvenience. The full text of the court ruling can be found here.

A peer-reviewed meta-analysis of earlier studies on the connection between abortion and mental health problems has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It shows that the negative impact of abortion is significant:
"Results indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure," the study says. "Overall, the results revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 percent of the incidence of mental health problems were shown to be directly attributable to abortion."

The peer-reviewed study indicated abortion was linked with a 34 percent chance of anxiety disorders, and 37 percent higher possibility of depression, a more than double risk of alcohol abuse (110 percent), a three times greater risk of marijuana use (220 percent), and 155 percent greater risk of trying to commit suicide.

When compared to unintended pregnancy delivered women had a 55% increased risk of experiencing any mental health problem.
On a related note, a federal court has upheld a South Dakota law requiring disclosure of abortion's mental health risks. The state's sole abortion business, a Planned Parenthood, had sued to prevent that disclosure.


Jameson Graber said...

Never hurts to include some links to the mainstream media's reporting.

In the US:

In the UK:

M said...

The most interesting part from that tidbit, to me, is the "nearly 10 percent of the incidence of mental health problems were shown to be directly attributable to mental health problems."

I'm interested in how they showed that. The rest of it is correlation, and while it's worth noting, it's better data when contrasted with situations that best control for all factors besides abortion that could contribute to mental health problems--like the comparison to women who delivered unexpected pregnancies.

Even then, though, I'm not convinced the unexpected factor is the main issue. Say, hypothetically, a woman who was abused as a child is more likely to be in an abusive relationship, more likely to get an abortion, and more likely to be depressed/alcoholic/suicidal. I'm not sure you could attribute any of those mental health issues to the abortion when it could easily be the abusive relationship that's destroying her.

I guess what I mean is you have to wonder if the factor influencing some women to have abortions is the same factor causing them to have mental health problems.

Still, good post. I'm going to check out the study more.