Dec 15, 2016 2:50PM

New Study Finds Abortion Has Little Effect On Mental Health


A new study into the psychological effects of abortion has found that women did not experience depression, anxiety or other mental health issues as a result of the procedure. According to the New York Times, this is the most in depth study to ever look into the topic in the USA with researchers following 1000 subjects for five years. Their findings disprove the common argument that abortions cause long-term psychological trauma.

The Turnaway Study was published this week in the JAMA Psychiatry journal and its main finding was that women who were turned away by clinics experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression and decreased self-esteem but these dissipated over time. The subjects either undertook the procedure elsewhere or went to term, with findings showing that their mental health returned to normal within six months to a year in both cases.

M. Antonia Biggs, a social psychologist researcher and an author of the study, told the NY Times that some people "would expect the women who have an abortion to have increasing depression and anxiety over time, but instead we don't see that… women denied an abortion have more anxiety, lower self-esteem, less life satisfaction than women who are able to get an abortion. But by six months to a year, they're similar to women who had an abortion."

They also found that women who were further along at the time of the termination did not experience increased trauma. "People guessed that it would be more difficult to their mental health to have a later abortion procedure than to have an earlier abortion procedure, and we didn't find that," Antonia explained.

The study implemented controls that eliminate the misinformation that has characterised pervious studies. These included ensuring they didn't compare women who had abortions with women to gave birth — two totally different groups — and accounting for preexisting mental health issues. All 1000 text subjects were interviewed every six months for five years to determine their mental health status; 273 women of these women received first-trimester abortions, 452 underwent abortions within the last two weeks of the clinic's cut off and 231 women were turned away, 161 of whom gave birth while the other 70 received abortions elsewhere. None of these groups presented significant mental health issues and, in what could be seen as a blow to pro-choice, women who where denied abortions did not experience more long-term negative consequences. That said, Antonia emphasised that the findings proved that "expanding access to abortion care is more likely to protect women's mental health than restricting women's access to abortion care."

Via: The New York Times
Photo: Tumblr

Lucy Jones