Mental Health Risks of Abortion Ignored
Special Report - December 9, 2008
A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University claims that their analysis of 21 studies on the subject of abortion and mental health risk found no reliable evidence of a link between the two, despite two new studies out this month reporting strong correlation between abortion and mental health risks. The Johns Hopkins review, published in the journal Contraception, was lead by Dr. Robert Blum, a current board member and previous board chairman of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. It rated 21 studies between January 1989 and August 2008 before systematically reviewing the collection, but failed to include numerous other studies published in peer-reviewed journals during that timeframe. Both of the new studies were peer-reviewed and are unique in the growing body of work on this topic because of their strong methodology and controls for confounding or alternate variables.
One of the new studies, “Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating the effects of abortion in the national comorbidity survey,” published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research found an association between abortion and an increased risk of panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, major depression and substance abuse disorders. The significant increase in risk for panic disorder (111 percent), drug dependence (126 percent), alcohol dependence (145 percent), and bipolar disorder (167 percent) is especially concerning. The study, which used data from the National Comorbidity Survey in the U.S., is unique in its methodology which controlled for 22 personal history and socio-demographic characteristics. It still concluded that abortion was a significant independent contributor for 12 out of the 15 mental health disorders examinedmore so than rape, sexual or physical abuse, assault, or neglect.
The December 2008 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry includes a study from self-described “pro-choice” New Zealand researcher David Fergusson entitled “Abortion and mental health disorders: Evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study.” Even after controlling for comparison groups and over 30 confounding variables (which include characteristics like childhood socio-economic background, family function, abuse, prior mental health disorders or stressful life events), the study found that the rates of mental health problems were about 30 percent higher among women who had had abortions than those who had not. Abortion was associated with increased risk of major depression, anxiety disorder, illicit drug dependence, and thoughts of suicide. In response to arguments that the negative mental impact of abortion may be less than the impact of carrying a child to term, the study concluded that “in general, there is no evidence in the literature on abortion and metal health that suggests that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted or mistimed pregnancy.” This conclusion is specifically based on the study’s unique consideration of comparative groups, especially mothers who carried unwanted pregnancies to term as opposed to aborting them.
“The abortion debate is centered on healththe health of the mother and the health of her child,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “We do a tremendous disservice to women and their children when we allow the perpetuation of false information about the safety of this barbaric procedure simply to maintain a multi-billion dollar industry. Women deserve to know the physical, mental, and emotional risks of abortion, just like they would for any other medical procedure. The growing body of evidence illustrating the health risks to women from abortion further underscores the need for informed consent legislation aimed at protecting women and empowering them to make knowledgeable decisions about their health.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.