Abortion Linked to Later Anxiety Problems, New Study Shows

SPRINGFIELD, November 4, 2004 ( - Women who abort unintended pregnancies are more likely to experience subsequent problems with anxiety compared to women who deliver their unintended pregnancies, according to a study published in the latest edition of Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

Using data collected from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), researchers examined a nationally representative sample of 10,847 women aged 15-34 who had experienced an unintended first pregnancy and had no prior history of anxiety. After controlling for race and age at the time of the survey, researchers found that compared to women who carried the unintended pregnancy to term, women who aborted were 30 percent more likely to subsequently report all the symptoms associated with a diagnosis for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

If the excess cases found in the study are projected onto the entire population of women having abortions, there may be as many as 40,000 or more GAD cases per year attributable to abortion. Since many women participating in the NSFG do not report their past abortions, the results may underestimate the full impact of abortion reactions.

“Our study suggests that clinicians treating women with anxiety problems may find it useful to inquire about their clients’ reproductive histories,” said Jesse Cougle, M.Sc., the lead author of the study. “Women struggling with unresolved issues related to a past abortion may benefit significantly from counseling that addresses this problem.”

Abortion advocates have frequently asserted that carrying an unintended pregnancy to term is more emotionally harmful to women than abortion. But this new study linking abortion to general anxiety disorder comes on the heels of nearly a dozen other studies published in the last three years linking abortion to increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and death from heart disease. Because of the increasing concern about the mental health effects of abortion on women, legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand funding for treatment programs and research in this area.


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