According to a new study that was published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine on January 27th, there is enough evidence to believe that women who undergo abortion are not more likely to have psychiatric episodes than their pregnant counterparts. Trine Munk- Olsen, who was the lead author of the study, says that she wasn’t in the least surprised by the study findings seeing as it is that the findings mirror previous research that was conducted on the same subject.
There are several studies done in this field of abortion in relation to mental health, most of which show that abortion has no direct relation to increased risks of having low-self esteem, depression and such like mental health complications. Another study that was published in the Journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health’s December issue reported the same findings. According to the research, teenagers who underwent abortion had no ‘notable’ difference in their mental health and mental capacity as other pregnant teenagers.
Meet Priscilla K. Coleman, an experienced professor of human development and family studies based at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who begs to differ on the matter, arguing that abortion increases the risk of mental health complications. She concludes that during the time when the study was conducted, there was not enough tangible evidence to reach such a conclusive analysis seeing as it is that the study was done only on 69 teens that had undergone abortion.
The latest research on this field was a Danish study which, according to Dr. Joe DeCook, the director of operations of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, believes that the study ought to be balanced by comparing it to other studies that have come to the conclusion that there is certainly a serious and long-term unseemly result for most women on their mental health totality.
According to DeCook, 50% of abortions are always repeated abortions, which the study does not take into account. Further, 11% of abortions take place after the first trimester, and women who fall under this category are also not included in the analysis. It is believed that these women tend to be at higher risk for ensuing mental health problems.
Some previous studies had discovered that abortion could adversely affect one’s mental health. The authors of the Danish study however could not fail to note that it isn’t implausible that an unplanned pregnancy could lead to mental health problems in itself. Thus, the authors said they studied the issue of abortion and mental health in a methodical and systemic way. According to this study, women having abortions between 1995 and 2007 in Denmark were followed for a period of 21 months, 9 months before the abortion and 12 months after the procedures. Every woman who had a first-time, first-trimester-induced abortion had at least been admitted to a psychiatric hospital once, or even had records of mental health treatment as an outpatient in an outpatient clinic.
Note that abortion is free and very much legal in Denmark during the first trimester. 15 out of 1,000 women were found to have a first time mental health problem during the first year after their first-trimester-induced abortion, with the common reason for visiting a psychiatry being stress-related or neurotic complaints. Note however that some past studies had suggested issues like regret or sadness, although these do not really make up for a mental disorder per se.
The study authors further went to report that among mothers who actually carried through their pregnancy to delivery, around 4 out of 1,000 women had a first-time psychiatric episode before delivery and around 7 afterwards, an increase which could have been attributed to postpartum depression. It was thus concluded that the high level of psychiatric visits for the abortion group of women reflect that women who have had an abortion are at a very vulnerable period of their lives, although this was not known for sure.
The vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dr. Vanessa Cullins thus concluded that the findings clearly indicates that parenting, and more so motherhood are choices with lifelong implications and commitments and that individual women are better suited to decide when, how, and more importantly if they are ready to give birth and raise a kid.
In conclusion therefore, as per the largest study to be done to compare the outcome of both abortion and delivery suggests that having an abortion does not directly increase the risk of psychiatric episodes and mental health problems in women, but having a kid does. This research which was done by Danish scientists, further debunks the idea that while terminating a pregnancy can trigger mental illness, postpartum depression can be a huge factor. The most common problems and complaints among both women who deliver and those who have abortion is that they were suffering from severe depression, stress, and unbearable anxiety.