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A new study shows that women who have an abortion have a 30 percent increased risk for developing a mental health problem.
Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand state that their findings are in a “middle-of-the-road” position, and they do not support pro-life or pro-choice arguments.
Their study, published in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry states that the most common conditions developed after an abortion are anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
Pregnancy and mental health history were studied in over 500 women for this study. These women were part of a long running study that they took part in from birth to age 30. They were interviewed six times between the ages of 15 and 30 and were asked whether they had been pregnant, and if so, what the outcome had been of that pregnancy.
They were also asked questions such as whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted and if this had caused them to be distressed or upset. The results were recorded on a scale from 1 to 5, from very happy to very unhappy.
Each woman was given a mental health assessment during the interview, which was done to note whether they met the criteria for any mental health problems. Other factors were also taken into account, such as: childhood socio-economic circumstances, childhood family functioning, parental adjustment, exposure to abuse in childhood, individual characteristics, educational achievement, and adolescent adjustment.
In the results of the study, a total of 686 pregnancies were reported by 284 women all before the age of 30.
The researchers said that the effect of abortion on mental health was small. They estimate that abortion is responsible for 1.5 to 5.5 percent of disorders.
A second study conducted stated that women who lose a baby (through abortion or miscarriage) by the age of 21 are three times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol problem.
“Abortion and miscarriage are stressful life events that have been shown to lead to anxiety, sadness and grief and, for some women, serious depression and substance use disorders,” said researcher Kaeleen Dingle of the University of Queensland, Australia.
Source: University of Otago Press Release