NZ Study links abortions, mental health problems

NZ Herald Dec 02, 2008
Women who have an abortion have an increased risk of developing mental health problems, New Zealand researchers have found. The long-term Christchurch study of more than 500 women found a link between having an abortion and an increase of nearly a third in the risk of disorders such as depression and anxiety. Reporting their findings in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the Otago University researchers say that abortions account for 1.5 to 5.5 per cent of the overall rate of mental disorders. They said their study backed up others overseas which concluded that having an abortion may be linked to an increased risk of mental health problems.

..The University of Otago team, Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden, said their findings pointed to a middle-of-the-road view on abortion – one which supported neither strong pro-abortion nor anti-abortion positions. The mental health problems most closely linked to abortion in their study included anxiety disorders and substance abuse. “Other pregnancy outcomes [including live birth] were not related to increased risk of mental health problems.” They said the study had implications for the legal status of abortion in New Zealand and Britain where more than 90 per cent of abortions were authorised on grounds of serious threat to the woman’s or girl’s mental health if her pregnancy proceeded.

…Anti-abortion group Family First said the growing evidence of potential harm of abortion to the mother meant the abortion debate should be re-opened.

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