The battle over the mental health effects of abortion continues, the latest shot being fired by a New Zealand researcher who says that abortion does lead to “significant distress” in some women.

Professor Fergusson, of the University of Otago, has been running a lifetime study of a group of New Zealanders born in the early 1970s. The abortion data comes from more than 500 women who have been interviewed six times between the ages of 15 and 30, each time being asked whether they were pregnant and, if so, what the outcome had been.

More than 85 per cent of women reported a least one negative emotional reaction, including sorrow, sadness, guilt, regret, grief and disappointment. A similar number reported at least one positive reaction, including relief, happiness and satisfaction.

The study found that women who reported at least one negative reaction had rates of mental health problems “approximately 1.4 to 1.8 times higher than women not exposed to abortion”.

The report concluded: “Collectively, this evidence raises important questions about the practice of justifying termination of pregnancy on the grounds that this procedure will reduce risks of mental health problems in women having unwanted pregnancy.

“Currently there is no evidence to support the assumptions underlying this practice, and the findings of the present study suggest that abortion may, in fact, increase mental health risks among those women who find seeking and obtaining an abortion a distressing experience.”

Professor Fergusson insists that his study provides no ground for either “strong pro life positions” or “strong pro choice positions”. However, earlier findings from the study, when the women were aged up to 25, found more than 40 per cent of those who had an abortion suffered depression afterwards, nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant.

One of the “no it doesn’t” studies — a review published by the American Psychological Association last year — conceded that some women do experience mental health problems after an abortion, but the APA maintains there is no evidence that this was caused by the abortion.

By the same token, there is no evidence that abortion prevents mental ill health, either, which is the point Fergusson makes about laws that permit abortion on “mental health grounds”. What are they based on if there is no definite evidence about the effects of abortion?

In other dreadful news on this subject the latest figures are out for the killing of Down syndrome babies in the UK: 1100 every year in England and Wales (Scotland has separate stats) or 3 every day. Around nine in ten women who are told they are going to have a baby with Down choose to have it aborted. Or one might say “agree” to an abortion, since it this is offered without fail when prenatal screening tests are accepted and show positive. This is plainly and simply the medical profession promoting eugenics.

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet