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October 12, 2021
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October 12, 2021

Not a quick fix: Is there a mental health impact of abortion?

By Dr Ryan Corbin

Today, abortion is praised as the pinnacle of the modern woman’s health/rights. Many of women’s difficulties are linked to unwanted pregnancies, a perceived impediment to advancement of a woman’s career/goals.

As a solution, abortion has become a tool to empower women towards achieving their best version of themselves, i.e. a society with no limitations, where freedom reigns.

In support, many research articles highlight that women’s lives will be better with unhindered access to abortion. Further to this, abortion “improves” the mental health of women.

The Guttmacher Institute reported “several studies published in Perspectives have found no evidence that having an abortion is, itself, responsible for later mental health problems.”1 Additionally some sources have quoted “research overwhelmingly suggests abortion does not, in most cases, cause a trauma response or contribute to any lingering distress.” 2

However, is abortion the best answer to the issue of unwanted pregnancies? Are there no mental health ramifications?

Before one begins to dissect the effects of abortion, one will first have to ask why have an abortion? We must acknowledge that though the choice of an abortion is difficult, the ultimate drive is that it is the quickest and easiest solution with no repercussions.

When faced with a potential problem it is human nature to gravitate to the proposed “painless” route but, is that truly the case?

Contrary to the mainstream agenda, there are numerous studies linking poor mental health outcomes and abortion, Donald Sullins et al for example.3 Interestingly enough, this study also found that giving birth was associated with improved mental health compared to carrying out an abortion.3

Furthermore, Pricilla Coleman et al in a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that women who had an abortion were 81 per cent more likely to experience mental health problems (anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide). 4

In a review of published literature between 1995 and 2011, almost 50 per cent of studies showed a clear risk for at least one of the reported mental problems in the abortion group versus childbirth. 5

Can we conclude then there seems to be some possible negative mental health outcomes post abortion?

With “wanted” abortions, the link to mental health is also noted to be four times higher compared to those who continued until delivery. 6

These women were noted to be as much as 1/5 to 1⁄3 of abortions. Therefore, can we question the narrative of the psychological supremacy/protection of abortion?

Why does there seem to be a link between mental health and abortion? One can argue that our natural law lies engraved deep within our individual subconscious, i.e., we innately know right from wrong without prior knowledge.

It is the battle between our desires and this natural law which might manifest itself as the poor mental outcomes observed. Why is there even an inner turmoil?

In this commentary, I will not be defending the biology of a foetus, its rightful place in humanity, nor will I argue between attaching the value of life to the idea of personhood.

What is sufficiently human to have the right to life? Are human rights conditioned/earned or inherent? For my medical colleagues charged with preserving human life, is there not a specialty known as foetal medicine?

Are our sisters in their moment of honest, understandable anguish being guided by genuine love and affection? Do we offer them the opportunity to fully understand the gravity of this decision? The lifelong effect on family? Are they aware that there are legitimate symbiotic alternatives?

In defense of this integral fabric of society, all must be simultaneously done to show honest compassion/support to our expecting mothers. Let our actions show that our future deserves more than just a quick fix.

 

References:

1 – “Emotional and Mental Health After Abortion” Guttmacher Institute, April 2018. 

2 – “Post-Abortion Syndrome: Is It Real?”. Healthline, June 2020

3 – Sullins, Donald Paul. “Abortion, substance abuse and mental health in early adulthood: Thirteen-year longitudinal evidence from the United States.” SAGE open medicine vol. 4 2050312116665997. 23 Sep. 2016, doi:10.1177/2050312116665997

4 – Coleman, Priscilla K. “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009.” The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science vol. 199,3 (2011): 180-6. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077230

5 – Bellieni, Carlo V, and Giuseppe Buonocore. “Abortion and subsequent mental health: Review of the literature.” Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences vol. 67,5 (2013): 301-10. doi:10.1111/pcn.12067

6 – “Aborting the Wanted Child” Paul Sullins, January 22, 2020.

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