SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, February 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that concluded that abortion does not increase women’s mental health risks, actually shows a higher rate of problems among women who have abortions compared to those who give birth, leading expert Dr. David Reardon of the Elliot Institute says.
The Danish study, entitled “Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder” and financed by the pro-abortion Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, found that women in Denmark who have abortions are two to three times more likely to seek psychiatric help for the first time in their lives in the months surrounding their abortion than women who give birth.
However, the researchers, focusing on a finding that there was no statistically significant difference in psychiatric visits before and after an abortion, concluded that procuring an abortion did not increase the risk of mental disorders.
But Dr. Reardon said the two to three times higher rate of psychiatric treatment among aborting women confirms other studies that have found that women who have abortions have higher rates of mental health problems compared to women who give birth. More than 35 such studies have been published in the last five years alone.
“Other studies have found that abortion is a marker for mental health problems, and this study agrees with those findings,” Reardon said in a press release. “The finding that women who have abortions are more likely to seek psychiatric treatment compared to women who give birth is consistent with previous findings.”
One important factor not covered by the study, Reardon explained, was whether women who sought psychiatric help before abortion also sought help after abortion.
“If the same women underwent treatment both before and after abortion, it could indicate that seeking psychiatric care prior to abortion is a risk factor for mental health problems after abortion,” he said. “On the other hand, if the women who sought care after abortion had no previous treatment, then the problems likely began after the abortion took place, since the researchers excluded women who sought treatment prior to nine months before the abortion or birth took place.”
The study also did not control for other factors that could affect a woman’s mental health, including whether or not the pregnancy was wanted, coercion to abort, and exposure to violence or other traumas.
Dr. Reardon’s analysis of the study corroborates an earlier critique of the study by Dr. Priscilla Coleman who said there were “major problems” with the conclusion drawn by the researchers.
Dr. Coleman suggested that the rate of pre-abortion mental health problems was likely so high, compared to that of women who gave birth (15.2% vs. 6.7%), “because many of the women were probably in the midst of abortion decision-making when they experienced their first psychiatric visit.” However, she pointed out, the study’s authors instead conclude that “women who choose abortion will often experience mental health problems based on factors other than the procedure.”
Dr. Reardon stated that the new study doesn’t contradict the findings of previously published studies that link abortion to higher rates of mental health problems.
“Overall, this new Danish study adds to the already available evidence linking abortion and mental health problems,” he said. “It also raises new questions that deserve further exploration, such as whether psychiatric care before abortion benefits women. What it doesn’t show is that having an abortion benefits women who are facing a crisis or erases their problems. Instead, it may contribute to them.”
The Elliot Institute is an organization engaged in research and educational activities related to the effects of eugenics, abortion, population control, and sexual attitudes and practices on individuals and society at large. It is dedicated to conducting original research on the impact of abortion on women, raising awareness that most abortions are unwanted or coerced, and exposing the risks of