Abortion and Mental Health

NZPA report:

Researchers who examined the medical history of more than 500 women have concluded “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.

I am not surprised. I can think of few things more challenging that the decision to have an abortion.

I find it interesting that amongst female friends I have discussed abortion with, almost all of them are 100% pro-choice, yet almost all of them say they would not have an abortion if they got pregnant – even if the father was not someone they are in a long-term relationship with.

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 study found that women who reported at least one negative reaction had rates of mental health problems “approximately 1.4 to 1.8 times higher than women not exposed to abortion”.

Which sounds significant.

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.”

The current law is a convenient fiction. We effectively have abortion on demand. I think it would be appropriate to amend the law to reflect the practice.

It said the findings did not support the extremes of either the pro-abortion, or pro-life camps. They were “not consistent with strong pro-life positions that depict unwanted pregnancy terminated by abortion as having devastating consequences for women’s mental health”.

Nor did they “support strong pro-choice positions that claim unwanted pregnancy terminated by abortion is without mental health risks”.

Extremes are rarely right.

Earlier findings from the same study, when the women were aged up to 25, found more than 40 per cent of those who had an abortion suffered depression afterwards, nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant.

The comparison I would fin d most interesting is between those who had an unwanted pregnancy and gave birth, and those who had an unwanted pregnancy and had an abortion.

Of course that will merely reflect an average. Each situation is unique, which is why I support it being a personal choice for each woman, not a decision for the state.

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