DUNEDIN, New Zealand, December 1, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Women who have an abortion face a 30% increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, according to a new study from the University of Otago, Christchurch.
The study, led by Dr. David Fergusson and funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, was published in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance use. In contrast, none of the other pregnancy outcomes was consistently related to significantly increased risks of mental health problems.
The researchers estimated that exposure to abortion accounted for between 1.5% and 5.5% of mental disorders in the general population. The research findings could have implications for the legal status of abortion in New Zealand and the UK, where over 90% of abortions are authorized on the grounds that the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the woman’s mental health. This research indicates than in many cases the opposite may be true: that terminating the pregnancy is in fact the riskier choice for the woman’s mental health.
Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden, studied the pregnancy and mental health history of over 500 women, who have taken part in the long-running study from birth to the age of 30.
The researchers took into account factors which might be associated with increased risks of abortion and/or mental illness, including childhood environmental factors, adolescent and parental adjustment, individual characteristics, and achievement in school.
This newest study backs up other research which concludes that having an abortion may be associated with increased risk of mental health problems. An article recently published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, summarizing a survey headed by Prof. Priscilla K. Coleman of Bowling Green State University, concluded that abortion could be blamed for an increase of various anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders.
In August, a study of 768 women by the University of Oslo in Norway also determined that abortion specifically puts women at higher risk for mental health disorders.
The University of Otago, Christchurch, previously the Christchurch School of Medicine, is part of one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the southern hemisphere, boasting New Zealand’s highest average research quality.
“This study is part of a growing body of research which challenges the current popular misconception that abortion carries no risks to the health and wellbeing of women,” said Family Life International NZ spokesman Brendan Malone.
Malone also emphasized that the rigorous methodology of the study pinpointed abortion, and not contingent factors, as specifically causing the increased mental illness – avoiding a common criticism from abortion advocates against similar studies.
See full report here: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/193/6/444
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