Monday 19 December 2011

Myth-Busting Monday: ‘Abortion causes mental health problems’

In light of the recent Systematic Review of Induced Abortion and Women’s Mental Health it’s time to put to rest any myths about abortion increasing risk of mental health problems.

The comprehensive review stated that:
•    The rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth
• An unwanted pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems.
• The most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental health problems was having a history of mental health problems before the abortion.
• The factors associated with increased rates of mental health problems for women in the general population following birth and following abortion were similar.
• There were some additional factors associated with an increased risk of mental health problems specifically related to abortion, such as pressure from a partner to have an abortion and negative attitudes towards abortions in general and towards a woman’s personal experience of the abortion.

The recommendation is that ‘future practice and research should focus on the mental health needs associated with an unwanted pregnancy, rather than on the resolution of the pregnancy’. So let’s make sure that rather than invent or inflate risks to mental health we focus on trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies and ensuring women have the support they need during the decision-making process when they are pregnant. Jennie Bristow has a thoughtful piece on this in the Huffington Post.

1 comment:

  1. The key issue with this myth is whether abortion causes mental health issues, or whether people with mental health issues are more likely to experience unwanted pregnancy.

    In my case, and in those of friends whom I know have had unwanted pregnancies (either terminated or carried to term), the latter has been the case.