No Evidence Supporting Abortion on Mental Health Grounds

Media Release 11 April 2013
Family First NZ is welcoming research from the Christchurch Health and Development Study which questions the current practice of recommending and authorising abortions on mental health grounds, with the authors adding that their conclusions have ‘uncomfortable implications for clinical practice and the interpretation of the law’ in New Zealand.

“Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence” by Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood, and Joseph Boden was published in the latest edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

“With 98% of abortions in NZ being performed on the basis of the mental health of the mother, the study says ‘it becomes important for both clinical and legislative reasons to examine the evidence on the extent to which abortion has therapeutic benefits that mitigate any mental health effects of unwanted pregnancy.’ It concludes that the evidence shows that abortion was not associated with a reduction in rates of mental health problems, but was associated with increases in risks of anxiety, alcohol and drug misuse, and suicidal behavior,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

They state: “There is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy. There is suggestive evidence that abortion may be associated with small to moderate increases in risks of some mental health problems.”

“This confirms and is consistent with previous worldwide and local research which shows that abortion harms women, but pro-abortion groups refuse to acknowledge this, seeing the right to abortion more paramount than the long-term health and welfare of the women involved. We believe women have the right to the best independent information and advice before making a decision that could impact them later in life,” says Mr McCoskrie.

The authors warn that “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.”

A meta-analysis of 22 studies and over 877,000 participants over a 14-year period, published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that 81 percent of females who had an abortion were found to be at an increased risk for mental health problems, including depression, alcohol abuse and suicidal behaviors. The study also revealed that as many as ten percent of all mental health problems are directly attributable to abortion.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK have recommended updating abortion information leaflets to include details of the risks of depression. They said that consent could not be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information.

“Family First NZ believes that any attempts to liberalise the laws around abortion in New Zealand would cause more harm than good to women. This latest study confirms that position.”

“With 98% of abortions in NZ being performed on the basis of the mental health of the mother, it is time that the research on the post-abortion mental health outcomes was given equal weight against the pro-abortion claims of ‘benefits’.”

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