Abortion’s Impact on Women’s Mental Health
Babette Francis, Family World News, February 2013
Abortion increases the risk of severe mental health problems in women by 81 per cent, a new study has found. Furthermore, almost 10 per cent of all women’s mental health problems are directly linked to abortion. These findings have been published in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry and are the result of a study, one of the largest ever, into the impact of abortion on women’s health.
The author is Dr Priscilla K. Coleman, professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, who earlier presented her research at Endeavour Forum’s workshop at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York in 2009. Her findings were based on an analysis of 22 separate studies and 36 measures of effect, involving 877,181 participants of whom 163,831 had experienced an abortion. The study took into account pre-existing mental health problems prior to abortion. “In order to avoid any allegations of bias,” explained Dr Coleman, “very stringent inclusion criteria were employed. Every strong study was included and weaker studies were excluded.
Among the rules for inclusion were sample size of 100 or more participants, use of a comparison group, and employment of controls for variables confounding the effects such as demographics, exposure to violence, prior history of mental health problems, etc. ”This makes Dr Coleman’s meta-analysis the most comprehensive one to date. She said: “Given the methodological limitations of recently published qualitative reviews of abortion and mental health, a quantitative synthesis was deemed necessary to represent more accurately the published literature and to provide clarity to clinicians.... “[T]he research was focused on offering the largest quantitative estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world literature. This would give health care practitioners an accurate synopsis of the best available evidence in order to provide women with valid information to make informed health care decisions.”
The research revealed that abortion was associated with a 34 per cent increased risk for anxiety disorders; 37 per cent greater risk of depression; 110 per cent greater risk of alcohol abuse; and 220 per cent greater risk of marijuana use/abuse. “Abortion was also linked with a 155 per cent greater risk of attempting to commit suicide.
The strongest subgroup estimates of increased risk occurred when abortion was compared with term pregnancy and when the outcomes pertained to substance use and suicidal behaviour,” Coleman observed. “Calling into question the conclusions from traditional reviews, the results revealed a moderate to highly increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. Consistent with the tenets of evidence-based medicine, this information should inform the delivery of abortion services.”
Commenting on the study, Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Dr Ruth Cullen said: “These findings are extremely disturbing and completely undermine pro-choice claims that abortion alleviates mental health problems. The study proves the opposite is the case. “These findings cannot be ignored, they raise very serious issues for everyone regardless of which side they are on in the abortion debate. The best interests of women can only be served by an honest and dispassionate appraisal of the facts.”
Dr Mary L. Davenport, president of the American Association of ProLife Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and medical director of Nigeria’s Magnificat Maternal Health Project, said the study “sheds important light on the mental health of women, and exposes the egregious cover-up of abortion complications that are an aspect of the abortion distortion”. She went on: “This review, which is larger than any study to date, contradicts the recent biased and less systematic review by the American Psychological Association, which failed to find a relationship between mental health problems and abortion. “The new meta-analysis also contradicts the stance of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which has been silent on the mental health impact of abortion in its official publications despite overwhelming evidence over the last two decades of abortion’s adverse effects.
“South Korea … holds the world record for the highest rate of female suicide. This country is called ‘the abortion paradise’ because at least 43.7 per cent of pregnancies end in abortion…. “The most sobering finding in the Coleman review is found in the section on population attributable risk (PAR), in which the PAR for suicide was found to be 34.9 per cent. PAR estimates the proportion of deaths in an entire population that could be prevented if the cause of death is eliminated (in this case, abortion as the cause of suicide in women).
“By so powerfully linking abortion to mental health problems, the Coleman study helps us comprehend the magnitude of the damage done to entire nations by reckless, permissive abortion policies.”
Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is national
coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.