Opponents of abortion sometimes cite “post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome” as a reason to limit a woman’s right to choose. But a new study of over a quarter million girls and women finds that having an abortion does not increase the risk of mental health issues.
Reproductive expert Robert Blum, with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, commented on the study to NPR:
“This is an extremely, extremely well done study…There is no evidence that abortion predisposes a woman to psychiatric and mental health problems.”
The research, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at data on 84,620 girls and women who had first-trimester abortions, and 280,930 who had a child between 1995 and 2007. None of the women had pre-exisiting psychiatric disorders before the study started.
Women who had chosen abortions did not have an uptick in emotional problems after the abortion took place. Meanwhile, those who had a baby actually did make more visits to a psychiatrist in the year after childbirth (most likely triggered by the transition to parenthood, sleep deprivation, or postpartum depression).
One caveat: women who chose abortions did have an overall higher incidence of mental health struggles. Here’s the explanation:
In the study, abortion and mental health issues were related — women who had an abortion were more likely to be going through a difficult time or emotional struggle. But the abortion itself was not a cause of mental health problems. In other words, symptoms were equal before and after an abortion.
“There is no post-abortion trauma, post-abortion syndrome, or anything of the like,” said Blum.