Suicide was rare among pregnant women before abortion was legalized

Before Roe vs. Wade, women could often get permission for an abortion if they claimed they were suicidal. Because abortions were legal to save a woman’s life, many doctors took the threat of suicide as a risk to a woman’s life, meaning an abortion would be legal.

The woman generally had to see a psychiatrist and have him write down that she would kill herself if she wasn’t granted an abortion.

However, suicides among pregnant women were extremely rare. One researcher says:

“In 1964, Dr. Russell S Fisher, Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Maryland, wrote that he could “recall only one pregnancy among the last 700 suicides, although some pregnancies may have been missed since we do not do an autopsy when the manner and the cause of death are established.”

H Rosen “Psychiatric Implications of Abortion” Western Reserve Law Review 17 (1965) 445, cited in David Granfield The Abortion Decision (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1971) 100

More recent studies have found that the suicide rate in women who had abortions is higher than among women who hadn’t.

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