SPRINGFIELD, ILL, May 13, 2003 ( – A new study published in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) shows that psychiatric hospitalization risks rise dramatically after abortions. A review of the medical records of 56,741 California medicaid patients revealed that women who had abortions were 160 percent more likely than delivering women to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following abortion or delivery. Rates of psychiatric treatment remained significantly higher for at least four years. A previously published study by the same authors revealed that women who had abortions were also more likely to require subsequent outpatient mental health care. Depressive psychosis was the most common diagnosis.  According to the CMAJ study’s lead author, David Reardon, Ph.D., a common complaint among participants in post-abortion recovery programs is that when they raised the issue of their past abortions while seeking mental health care, their therapists dismissed abortion as irrelevant.  “Therapists who fixate on the ‘abortion is benign’ theory, either out of ignorance or allegiance to defensive political views on abortion, are doing a great disservice to women who need understanding and support,” said Reardon, who recently co- authored a book, Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion. “This study, based on objective medical records, validates the claims of tens of thousands of women in post-abortion recovery programs.”  In an invited commentary on the study appearing in the same issue of the CMAJ, Brenda Major, charged that the implication that abortion can cause psychiatric problems is misleading. She argued other factors, such as marital status or prior psychological problems, may offer better explanations for the fact that psychiatric problems are more common among aborting women. Reardon concedes that these other factors may also contribute to psychiatric illness but insists that abortion can both aggravate pre-existing problems and trigger new ones.  Reardon called Major’s commentary a product of “the abortion distortion effect.” He particularly questioned Major’s choice to omit from her comments any mention her own study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. That study revealed that 1.4 percent of the women interviewed two years after their abortions suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder solely attributable to their abortions.  Even such a low percentage, projected on the 1.3 million American women undergoing abortions each year, Reardon said, would result in 18,200 cases of PTSD each year, or over a half million cases since 1973. Including other types of negative reactions, he said, would increase the overall complication rate by twenty times or more.  This is the seventh study Reardon and his colleagues have published on abortion complications in the last eighteen months. Among the other studies, also published in major peer reviewed journals, one revealed that among women with an unintended first pregnancy, those who had abortions were at significantly higher risk of clinical depression an average of eight years later compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term.  Higher rates of suicide and substance abuse among women who had abortions were also revealed in the other studies published by the research team.  See the full text of both Reardon’s study and the invited commentary from CMAJ: