Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s chance of developing mental health problems, a British health agency has found. The U.K.’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health compared a number of studies conducted worldwide in the past 20 years and found that in cases of unwanted pregnancy, women who chose abortion were no more likely to develop disorders like depression and anxiety than those who gave birth. Research does point to an increase in mental disorders in women with unwanted pregnancies in general, with approximately one in three women with unwanted pregnancies diagnosed with such disorders. These statistics did not rise, however, in the cases in which women underwent abortion.
I’m grateful this study shows that women who made the choice to abort remained mentally stable and were presumably positive about their decision or stable enough to deal with the repercussions. It backs up statements from the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association that having an abortion does not harm a woman’s mental health. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute reports, more women feel stressed out before the abortion and afterwards report feeling “happiness and relief.”
While I believe that all women have an emotional and mental response to abortion, in varying degrees depending on the individual and circumstances, these findings do debunk any “old wives’ tale” notions about so-called “post-abortion syndrome” — often spouted by the Religious Right as if it were fact — that abortions have adverse mental effects.
Contact the author of this post at Stefanie@TheFrisky.com.