Depressed Women More Likely To Have Abortions, Study Finds

Grace Carr | Reporter

Women who are depressed are more likely to abort their unborn children if they fall pregnant than women who are not depressed, researchers have found.

The researchers determined in their “Examining the Association of Antidepressant Prescriptions With First Abortion and First Childbirth” study published in JAMA Psychiatry Wednesday that compared to women who did not abort, those who had abortions had higher rates of antidepressant use.

In order to obtain their results, the researchers studied a group of Danish women born between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 30, 1994. A total of 396,397 women were included in the study, and of these women, 30,834 had abortions and 85,592 carried their pregnancies to term.

“The repercussions of abortion for mental health have been used to justify state policies that limit access to abortion in the United States,” team leader Dr. Julia Steinberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, wrote in the study. (RELATED: Study: Majority Of Women Who Had Abortions Say Their Lives Didn’t Get Better)

Another report, “Abortion and Mental Health,” studied a group of women — some who had aborted and others who had not — for 14 years to determine if women who had abortions suffered from mental health problems afterward. Women who had abortions were 81 percent more likely to experience mental health problems than their peers who had not aborted an unborn child, the study found.

Priscilla K. Coleman authored the report that was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2011. Of the women who aborted, 10 percent of mental health issues that arose thereafter were positively attributable to abortion, the study showed. Substance use and suicidal behavior were the most common mental health illnesses that arose after abortions, according to the report. Women who aborted were twice as likely to commit suicide as women who carried their pregnancies to term. (RELATED: Women Who Abort Face 81-Percent Increase In Risk For Mental Health Problems, Study Shows)

Steinberg, however, pushes back against studies like Coleman’s that conclude abortion produces negative outcomes including depression and mental disorders. “The increased risk of depression did not change from the year before to the year after an abortion,” she and the other researchers determined. “And contrary to previous claims that abortion has long-term adverse effects, the risk of depression decreased as more time elapsed after the abortion.”

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