Afternoon Roundup: Study Finds No Higher Risk of Mental Health Issues Post Abortion


Republican anti-choice legislators continue to introduce time and money wasting measures like the “Life At Conception Act” which have no chance of passing; lady health workers in Pakistan; another study which finds abortion does not carry a higher risk of mental health problems; and sexual violence against Native American women on reservations.

  • Well, it’s a good thing that devastatingly high unemployment rates, state budget crises, and ongoing health reform challenges aren’t distracting some anti-choice Republican legislators from the real issues at hand! Namely, spending time crafting and pushing bills like the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” and the latest: the “Life At Conception Act.” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) introduced the bill, which has virtually no chance of passage. Clearly modeled after Personhood amendments which have almost uniformly failed across the country, the bill currently has 9 Republican co-sponsors. Says Wicker, “I’m proud to introduce legislation, which would settle this important life issue once and for all.” 

Researchers from Aga Khan University in Karachi followed almost 50,000 households in two health districts for two years. The areas where the women were assigned to work had 21 percent fewer stillbirths and 15 percent fewer newborn deaths than in other areas.

  • More evidence that abortion does not cause mental health issues. This time from a study out of Denmark. One of the largest studies comparing the experiences post-abortion with post-childbirth shows that having an abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems but childbirth does. It should be no surprise to women’s health professionals and advocates who study these issues but the conclusive evidence is helpful. From an article in the Washington Examiner,

Researchers compared the rate of mental health treatment among women before and after a first abortion. Within the first year after an abortion, 15 per 1,000 women needed psychiatric counseling — similar to the rate seeking help nine months before an abortion.

Researchers say women who seek abortions come from a demographic group more likely to have emotional problems to begin with. Statistics show that a large percentage struggle economically and they have above-average rates of unintended pregnancies.

While first-time mothers had a lower rate of mental problems overall, the proportion of those seeking help after giving birth was dramatically higher. About 7 per 1,000 women got mental health help within a year of giving birth compared with 4 per 1,000 women pre-delivery.

  • Between the recently signed into law Tribal Act of 2010 and a new Department of Justice task force charged with addressing sexual violence against women on reservations, advocates are looking towards change. In an article on High Country News, online editor Stephanie Paige Ogburn writes, “One can only hope that the momentum spurred by the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the work of a new Department of Justice task force to streamline prosecution of violent crimes against women on the rez will result in systemic reform. That’s what it will take for victims to have the confidence to bring charges and know that they won’t be brushed off, blamed, or retaliated against.”

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  • quiet-professional

    To deny that there might be reasons for a woman to experience a feeling of loss after having an abortion — to the point where she might suffer pyschologically — is to do all women a grave disservice.

    Likely, many women in fact do not seek counseling after having an abortion precisely because they’re constantly being told by radical pro-choice advocates that . . . of course they shouldn’t need counseling because there’s no reason in the first place that they should be suffering any ill effects on account of their “choice”.

    That is likely especially so in a liberal culture such as Denmark’s.

    Here in the United States, at least, we’re becoming more open and honest with ourselves about the reality of post-partum depression–which has documented physiological roots. Why pretend it’s othwerwise when it comes to abortion? Unless, of course, we have an overarching political agenda that’s driving us to do so at the expense of the other victims of abortion–the women who have them.

  • ldan

    The article states that it does not cause a higher risk of mental health issues, not that there are none, ever. And yes, really. Studies keep finding the same answer, so why does that seem unbelievable?

     

    Of course some women are going to suffer feelings of loss and grief after an abortion, just as they will after various other events.  Nobody is saying that zero women will need or want counseling after an abortion.

     

    I mean, how do you figure that the voices of radical pro-choice advocates are stronger than the constant drumbeat of shame that most women hear regarding abortion? Even from the ranks of pro-choice advocates come messages that ‘while I’d never have one, I don’t believe I should restrict all women’s choices,’ that carry hints of shame with them. I’d hazard that there would be even fewer women who needed counseling without those messages. So maybe we should work on toning those down rather than the nonexistent ones saying that women never need counseling after abortions.

  • crowepps

    Feelings of loss and sadness are not “mental illness”.

     

    If I see any “radical pro-choice advocates” telling women what they should be feeling, I’ll tell them to cut it out.  You can tell the “radical ProLife advocates” they shouldn’t tell women what they should feel either.

     

    Must ask, though, just what does a “radical pro-choice advocate” do?  Are they too loud and insistent that women make their own choices?  Are they too quiet and diffident in refusing to judge and condemn women who do so?  Do they spend an excessive amount of time respecting women and providing all the information women might want to take into consideration?

  • crowepps

    we’re becoming more open and honest with ourselves about the reality of post-partum depression

    Post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis are serious, the second is very, VERY serious mental illness, and the existence of these illnesses is all the reason women’s advocates need to promote laws which require obstetricians to read a script sharing the real facts with those who get a positive pregnancy test.  Women deserve to know the TRUTH, that their risk of going mad and being involuntarily committed is much higher if they continue their pregnancies.  Except that would be silly.

  • quiet-professional

    ” Do they spend an excessive amount of time respecting women and providing all the information women might want to take into consideration?”

    That would be a start. Instead of pretending like having an abortion should leave a woman feeling no more grieved than if she’d clipped a hangnail.

  • quiet-professional

    “Of course some women are going to suffer feelings of loss and grief after an abortion.”

    So … we’ve found a sliver of common ground.

  • quiet-professional

    OB-GYNs are, in fact, being more forthright about the effects that post-partum changes in women’s body chemistry can present mental health issues.

    Shouldn’t women seeking abortions also be counseled about the potential impacts on their mental and emotional health?

  • quiet-professional

    OB-GYNs are, in fact, being more forthright about the effects that post-partum changes in women’s body chemistry can present mental health issues.

    Shouldn’t women seeking abortions also be counseled about the potential impacts on their mental and emotional health?

  • arekushieru

    Um, so, should ProLifers stop pretending that continuing a pregnancy and going through childbirth should leave a woman feeling no more grieved than if she’d clipped a hangnail?  There are more women that regret continuing their pregnancies than they (or you) obviously know.  But, hate to break it to you, ProChoicers do NOT support any sort of pretense about how a woman ‘should’ feel after having an abortion OR giving birth. Abortion is a legal/medical procedure and a woman has every right to feel how she does, about it.  And ProChoicers respect that.

    As for your other comment, there is a bit of overlap between the two subjects, so I’ll just address the other one, here, as well.  Just because a woman has regrets about her abortion, doesn’t mean she feels grief over it.  Some people buy a house and have regrets about buying it, but that doesn’t mean they wish they had never done it.  It should also be noted that many women who do experience regrets over abortion, experience them because of pre-existing circumstances, stigmatization, the unplanned pregnancy, itself, and a whole host of other things.  Things that are not associated with the abortion, itself (the removal of the implantation of the fetal portion of the placenta from the uterus), like there is with pregnancy, in order for someone  to be diagnosed with a medical condition, such as PPD.  

  • ldan

    So long as you’re willing to pay attention to the “some” in my sentence.

     

    I’m a bit defensive on the topic after hearing so much of the “all women who have abortions are damaged, even if they think they’re fine!” hysterics.

  • ldan

    It would be nice if data like this could help push for greater support for women after childbirth so they’re able to have the mental health issues that might developed be addressed, instead of suffering silently because they’re supposed to be overjoyed that they’re a mom. It’s not my area of expertise, but it seems like there’s a lot that could be done there that really isn’t. Postnatal care mainly seems focused on the baby from what little I’ve seen secondhand.

  • jrm83

    I think it’s also wrong to assume that just because a woman feels grief or loss it means that she regrets having an abortion.  A woman may feel sad that her current circumstances make continuing a pregnancy unfeasible; however, that doesn’t mean that she regrets having one.  For example, a woman with no health insurance and who would lose her job if she carried to term might feel sadness over having an abortion, but that doesn’t mean that she regrets it.  Likewise, a woman who has to terminate a pregnancy for health reasons may feel grief or loss, but I think it’s insulting to automatically assume that this means she regrets having the abortion.  Negative feelings often go along with making difficult decisions; that doesn’t mean they were the wrong decisions.

  • ldan

    Except that so far, research continues to confirm that there aren’t predictable impacts on their mental and emotional health. There’s a big difference in saying that ‘you may experience a range of feelings…here’s a number for a counselor if you need it,’ and the types of scripts that anti-choice legislators have been trying to have imposed that warn against depression and addiction caused by abortion.

     

    Counseling just isn’t all that accessible, frankly. a. There’s the money issue. b. There’s the stigma issue, since counseling is still seen as indicating that you’re admitting to scary mental health problems. c. Depending on career, there’s even a discrimination issue since some jobs are very leery of *any* mental health notes in your background. Etc.

  • crowepps

    I find it absolutely fascinating how much of the purported ‘discussion’ of ProLife advocates around these issues is based on demonizing people, publicizing the stereotype, and then saying how terrible it is that the false construct does this or that.

     

    You might consider how impatient you would eventually become if someone demanded REPEATEDLY that you apologize for the existence of those ProLife counselors who ‘pretend that giving a child up for adoption leaves a girl feeling no more grieved than if she’d given away a kitten.’

  • crowepps

    Shouldn’t women attempting to become pregnant also be counseled about the potential impacts on their mental and emotional health, the fact that having children will break up their marriage and means they are doomed to live in poverty?