New Research Supports Abortion-Mental Health Risk Claims

Thu Jan 5, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By Terry Vanderheyden

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, January 4, 2006 ( – New research from New Zealand has confirmed that abortion substantially increases the risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression in young women.

Lead investigator, psychology professor David Fergussen, along with colleagues John Horwood and Elizabeth Ridder from Christchurch School of Medicine, found a relative rate of mental health-related concerns such as depression, anxiety, a tendency to suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse were all significantly increased in women with a past history of abortion.

The group examined mental health records for women who had abortions between the age of 15 and 25, concluding that 42 percent of these women had experienced major depression during the previous four years – almost twice as often as those who had never been pregnant, and 35 percent more likely than in women who had been pregnant but carried their children to term. The increased prevalence persisted despite adjusting for “confounding factors,” such as family problems or a history of mental illness.

The School of Medicine study also found that women who had previously had abortions were twice as likely to suffer with anxiety and be addicted to alcohol, as well as three times more likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.

Dr. Fergussen, who describes himself as “pro-choice,” told Australia’s ABC News that, although abortion is the most common surgery in young women, its long-term effects have rarely been researched.

He confirmed the bias against such research, admitting he had trouble getting his findings published, particularly in the US. “Journals we would normally have expected to publish them just declined the papers, and I think it’s . . . because the debate is so very hot, and I think this is particularly so in the US of A (United States of America), and it’s notable that our paper was published in a British journal,” he told ABC reporter Tom Iggulden.

Related US research last year found that women who had abortions had higher subsequent substance use rates than both women who had never been pregnant and women who carried their unintended pregnancies to term. The researchers report that the elevated rates of substance use among women who had abortions might be linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and unresolved grief which have been measured in other studies of women with a history of abortion. “It seems most likely that we are looking at a cluster of interrelated reactions, not a simplistic, isolated, cause and effect reaction,” said researcher David Reardon.

See related coverage:
  Abortion of Unintended Pregnancy Linked to Higher Substance Abuse: New Study

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