By Susan E. Wills
The largest, most definitive analysis of the mental health risks associated with abortion was published Sept. 1 in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry. Conducted by Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, the analysis examines 22 studies published between 1995 and 2009 involving 877,181 women, of whom 163,831 had abortions.
— “Women who have had an abortion have an 81 percent higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion.
— “Women who aborted have a 138 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth.
— “Women who aborted have a 55 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to women with an ‘unplanned’ pregnancy who gave birth.
— “Women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety, depression, alcohol use/misuse, marijuana use, and suicidal behavior, compared to those who have not had an abortion.
Coleman notes that a 2010 study by Canadian researchers published after she completed her analysis of the 22 studies, arrived at “strikingly similar” conclusions regarding the increased risk of mental health problems associated with abortion.
A handful of “pro-choice” academics continue to churn out papers attempting to show that “the few” women who have mental health problems after abortion are those who had mental health problems before their abortion. They claim that having an abortion is better for one’s mental health than giving birth to an “unplanned” (and therefore to their mind “unwanted”) child.
Health care professionals have a duty to advise patients of the benefits and risks of a procedure “in a manner that reflects the current scientific literature,” Coleman writes, so patients can make an informed choice. As former abortion clinic staff attest, and as journalists in the U.S. and U.K. have discovered, counselors at abortion clinics conceal mental and physical health risks — as well as the fact that the procedure will violently end a child’s life — in order to sell abortions.
Thanks to Coleman, the current scientific literature now proves that the increased risks to mental health from abortion outweigh any imagined “benefit” to women. Women considering abortion deserve to be told these facts—but they won’t hear them once they’re inside the clinic. It is up to us to get the word out.
Susan Wills is assistant director for education and outreach for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-life Activities.