Elective Abortion May Not Cause Depression In Women

A study by the American Psychological Association says adult women who undergo an elective first trimester abortion do not face a greater risk for depression. These women may feel grief and loss but do not face any greater risk of developing any form of mental health problems like stress, depression, and anxiety over a period of time. A woman could experience negative psychological feelings post abortion if she is pressurized into it or keeps it a secret out of fear of a stigma. Inadequate emotional support post abortion has also been cited as playing a role in causing depression.

The APA presented their study results at their annual conference this week and disputed previous findings that showed a link between abortion and mental health. Psychologist Brenda Major, who headed the task force that issued the report felt previous studies did not take into account issues such as poverty, history of emotional problems, or previous drug use, all of which increase a woman's odds of developing depression or anxiety. "These studies, for the most part, were seriously flawed," she said "A teenager who terminates her first pregnancy, for example, may experience different psychological effects compared to an adult woman who terminates a pregnancy after giving birth to several children."

The debate between pro-choice and the anti-abortionists has been on for a long while and though this report may not settle the debate its release is well timed with lawmakers and judges citing mental health threat as grounds to ban abortion. The report says exposure to violence and unwanted births are factors that could predispose a woman to mental health problems, irrespective of whether she has an abortion or not. Mary Lynn Crow, a Fort Worth psychologist says, "If there is pressure or stigma, if you have mental health problems, a drug addiction or live in poverty — all of those things are likely to cause serious emotional problems later, whether you had an abortion or a regular delivery."

In the cases of those who abort after discovering their fetus has a severe health problem like a malformed heart the distress lingers. The review cited a study which said the grief lasted for moths in these cases while those who gave birth to a healthy baby whose malformation had been misdiagnosed did not. In the cases of mothers who gave birth to babies who actually had irreversible heart problems were the most likely to still be grieving in comparison.

Betsy Kopor believes that abortion hurts women. She had an abortion in 1981 when she was 23 and she suffered the anguish for 18 years. In 2001 she opened a Rachel Ministries office in Fort Worth to help women trying to cope with the same feelings. "They do suffer from guilt. I have seen many, many cases of people who suffer clinical depression," she said. "I’ve talked to people that have attempted suicide in the past, and they do say it’s because of the pain they have suffered because of abortion."

Holly Morgan, director of media and communications for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, agreed that multiple factors contributed to form a woman’s emotional response to an unintended pregnancy."Strong and complex feelings before and after a major life decision, including the decision to choose an abortion or to carry a pregnancy to term, are a natural part of life," she said.

The review though after two years of evaluating studies published since 1989 says they found "no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women."