CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, April 12, 2013 ( – Abortion does nothing to improve the mental health of women experiencing unwanted pregnancies but puts them at greater risk of problems, a new study has found.

Researchers found aborting an unwanted child had no therapeutic value in reducing the mental health risks during a study conducted at the Department of Psychological Medicine of the University of Otago in Christchurch. Instead, the evidence suggests that abortion may be associated with an increased risk of some mental health problems.

As part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, Professors David Fergusson, John Horwood, and Joseph Boden analyzed data from eight recent New Zealand studies that looked at levels of anxiety, depression, alcohol misuse, illicit drug use/misuse, and suicidal behavior in post-abortion women compared to those who carried their pregnancies to term.


“The growing evidence suggesting that abortion does not have therapeutic benefits cannot be ignored indefinitely, and it is unacceptable for clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortions on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence,” the researchers concluded.

The study titled “Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence” was published in the April edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry

Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, said his organization welcomed the research from the Christchurch Health and Development Study, noting especially the authors' statement that their conclusions have “uncomfortable implications for clinical practice and the interpretation of the law” in New Zealand.

McCoskrie points out that with 98 percent of abortions in New Zealand being performed on the basis of the mental health of the mother, it is time that research on post-abortion mental health outcomes was given equal weight with the pro-abortion claims of “benefits.”

“This confirms and is consistent with previous worldwide and local research which shows that abortion harms women, but pro-abortion groups refuse to acknowledge this, seeing the right to abortion more paramount than the long-term health and welfare of the women involved,” said Mr. McCoskrie. “We believe women have the right to the best independent information and advice before making a decision that could impact them later in life.”

“Family First NZ believes that any attempts to liberalize the laws around abortion in New Zealand would cause more harm than good to women. This latest study confirms that position,” McCoskrie concluded.

The Christchurch research corroborates numerous other studies — including previous studies conducted by these researchers — that found links between abortion and higher mental health risks.

A meta-analysis of 22 studies, published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, predominantly substance abuse and suicidal behavior. It included 877,181 participants over a 14-year period, between 1995 and 2009

The study also revealed that nearly 10 percent of the incidence of all mental health problems was shown to be directly attributable to abortion. 

The UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists warned in 2008 that women should be counseled on the possible risk to their mental health before undergoing an abortion.