Medical Research about the psychological aftermath of abortion
Medical research in reputable, peer-reviewed publications about how women respond emotionally after abortion is scarce. However, since 2002, several large, record-based, studies have been published in this area.
Many medical journals provide abstracts online--those links are included below--but you must pay a per-article fee or subscribe to the publication to access the full article. Some journals don't even include abstracts. When that is the case, I include links to online discussions or descriptions of the article in question.
British Medical Journal, Volume 324, 2002. Finding: Higher rates of clinical depression in women after abortion.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2002, Vol. 72, No. 1, 141–152. Finding: Women were 63 percent more likely to receive mental care within 90 days of an abortion compared to delivery.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, December 2002, Volume 186, Number 6. Finding: Compared with women who gave birth, women who had had an induced abortion were significantly more likely to use marijuana, various illicit drugs, and alcohol during their next pregnancy.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2002; 43(6):743-757. Finding: children whose mothers have a history of abortion tend to have less emotional support at home and more behavioral problems than children whose mothers have not had abortions.
Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, 2003;58(1)67-69. Search under "abortion" after you go to the journal homepage. Finding: Induced abortion increases the risks for both a subsequent preterm delivery and mood disorders substantial enough to provoke attempts of self-harm.
Southern Medical Journal, 95(8), August 2002. Finding: Significantly higher rates of suicide and accidental death after abortion.
Medical Science Monitor, 2003, 9(4). Finding: Women whose first pregnancies ended in abortion were 65% more likely to score in the 'high-risk' range for clinical depression.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, May 2003,168(10). Finding: Subsequent psychiatric admissions are more common among low-income women who have an induced abortion than among those who carry a pregnancy to term, both in the short and longer term.
Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 66, 2004. Finding: Women who had induced abortion reported significantly more avoidance of thoughts and feelings related to the event than women who had a miscarriage.
Archives of General Psychiatry, August 2000, Volume 57. Finding: Two years postabortion, 28% of 418 women were dissatisfied with their decision; 31% of 441 said they would not have the abortion again; 28% reported more harm than benefit their abortion; 20% were depressed. Negative emotions increased and decision satisfaction decreased over time.
Unwanted Results: The ethics of controversial research, is an important editorial opinion published by the Canadian Medical Association in July 2003. It discusses what the stance of the medical community should be toward studies that offend against some people's personal or political biases.
As you read over the links that go directly to medical journals, you'll usually find a box in the upper right that lets you find other articles online that either cite the article in question or are about a similar subject.
The American Psychological Association is officially pro-choice. It has a Division 35 that studies women's issues. Division 35 has collaborated with The Pro-Choice Forum to provide an online outlet for their particular perspective on the emotional aftermath of abortion. After an initial flurry of activity in 2002, little additional content has been added. Specifically, they have not yet discussed or addressed the research I cited above. (I write to them occasionally to remind them to do this.)
David Reardon of The Elliot Institute is always current on medical research in this area. His website includes a wealth of information. A monthly e-newsletter is available from this source for regular updates.