By Hilary White

LONDON, March 17, 2008 ( – While doctors and researchers continue to track the long term psychological harms of abortion, political advocates of legal abortion have continued to insist that the only psychological reaction to abortion in women is “relief”. Now one of the most prestigious psychiatric bodies in the world has issued a warning that women are not being sufficiently warned of abortion’s potentially devastating psychological effects.

The UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends, not the abolition of abortion or even taking any legal measures to reduce it, but updating the information pamphlets given to women considering abortion to include details of the risks of depression. “Consent cannot be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information,” the report says.

The college rejected any suggestion that the findings mean abortion should be considered generally harmful to women. “The specific issue of whether or not induced abortion has harmful effects on women’s mental health remains to be fully resolved. The current research evidence base is inconclusive – some studies indicate no evidence of harm, whilst other studies specify a range of mental disorders following abortion.”

It recommended instead that “women with pre-existing psychiatric disorders who continue with their pregnancy, as well as those with psychiatric disorders who undergo abortion, will need appropriate support and care”.

Doctors should assess a woman asking for abortions for pre-existing mental disorders and risk factors. If these are identified, the doctor should ensure that “a clearly identified care pathway” should be provided for her. 

Ironically, the statistics show that more than 90 percent of the 200,000 abortions carried out in Britain every year are allowed on the grounds of the woman’s “mental health”. It has been one of the abortion lobby’s most common claims that “unwanted” pregnancy can cause enormous psychological strain for women, up to and including being a precursor to suicide. In the famous “X case” in Ireland, the threat of suicide by a teenage girl was used as a political wedge against that country’s laws protecting unborn life.

The Royal College findings are not the first to show a connection between abortion and severe mental illness. They support a multitude of studies that show severe long term effects of abortion. To take only one example, in 2002, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry published a study based on information on 173,000 low-income California women. That study showed women were 63 percent more likely to receive mental care within 90 days of an abortion, compared to delivery. It found that higher rates of mental health treatment persisted over the entire four years of data examined. Complaints included neurotic depression, bipolar disorder, adjustment reactions, and schizophrenic disorders.

In the same year, the director of the Elliot Institute in Springfield, Illinois, Dr. David Reardon, published research in the British Medical Journal showing that women who abort are at higher risk of severe clinical depression than women who carried unintended pregnancies to term.

The report from the Royal College comes at a time when Britain has heard from Emma Beck, a 30 year-old artist, who said “Living is hell for me” after aborting her twins. Beck hanged herself February 1st.

“I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I want to be with my babies; they need me, no one else does.”

Emma Beck’s suicide note continued, “I told everyone I didn’t want to do it, even at the hospital. I was frightened, now it is too late. I died when my babies died. I want to be with my babies: they need me, no-one else does.”

Records show that the doctor who attended Beck’s case told an inquest that it was known she was being pressured into an abortion by her boyfriend and that she had “no support”. Beck was given the telephone number of a pregnancy counselling service, but it is not the policy of the British medical community to refer women to pro-life counselling services.