Abortion link to mental illness

NZ Herald Nov 04, 2009
Researchers who examined the medical history of more than 500 women have concluded abortion “leads to significant distress in some”. Women reporting adverse reactions were up to 80 per cent more likely than women not exposed to abortion to have mental health problems, the Otago University study found. That finding has raised questions about justifying abortions on the basis of mental health. The study, reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found the risk of mental illness was “proportional to the degree of distress” associated with the abortion.

Professor David Fergusson, of the department of Psychological Medicine, and his team studied data from women who had been 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. More than 85 per cent of women reported a least one negative emotional reaction, including sorrow, sadness, guilt, regret, grief and disappointment.

The report concluded: “This evidence raises important questions about the practice of justifying termination of pregnancy on the grounds that this procedure will reduce risks of mental health problems in women having unwanted pregnancy. There is no evidence to support the assumptions underlying this practice, and the findings of the present study suggest that abortion may, in fact, increase mental health risks among those women who find seeking and obtaining an abortion a distressing experience.”

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