The Elliot Institute News  
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Vol. 9, No. 6 -- May 13, 2010


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New Study Affirms Link Between
Abortion and Mental Health Problems

Increase in Suicidal Thoughts, Substance Use
and Other Problems After Abortion


A new study has found that women are more likely to experience substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and other problems after abortion, affirming the results of previous studies finding a link between abortion and mental health problems.

The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, examined a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 women in the United States.


The researchers found that, after controlling for age, marital status, race, education, household income and any violence, women in the study who underwent an abortion had a 98 percent increased risk for any mental health disorders compared to women who did not have an abortion.


Women who had abortions also had:

  • 59 percent increased risk for suicidal thoughts

  • 61 percent increased risk for mood disorders

  • 61 percent increased risk for social anxiety disorders

  • 261 percent increased risk for alcohol abuse
  • 313 percent increased risk for drug abuse
  • 280 percent increased risk for any substance use disorder

Approximately 6 percent of suicidal ideation cases among women nationwide and 25 percent of cases of drug use could be related to abortion, the researchers found.1


The study affirms findings from earlier studies showing that women are more likely to suffer emotional injury after undergoing abortion. For example, a 2006 New Zealand study found that, even after controlling for existing mental health problems, women who aborted were more likely to later experience depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.2


And a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2008 found that mental disorders among women who had abortions were 17 percent higher than among women who did not have abortions. When researchers looked at specific disorders, the increased rate among women who had abortions ranged from 44 percent higher for panic attacks to 167 percent higher for bipolar disorder.3


Abortion and Violence

The new study affirms that mental health problems associated with abortion cannot be solely explained by an exposure to other forms of violence. The earlier 2008 study also found that abortion was more likely to cause mental health problems among women than was a history of other traumas such as childhood sexual abuse, rape, physical violence or neglect.


Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, who has worked on more than a dozen studies on mental health issues after abortion, said that further research is also needed to look at the other side of the equation: whether having an abortion is likely to increase a women's risk of suffering violence or abuse.


He expressed concern that the study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry made no distinction between exposure to violence that occurred before the abortion and exposure which occurred after the abortion, noting that violence may actually be an aftereffect of abortion.

"I believe this is a very important distinction which should be investigated, as we have evidence from surveys and interviews with women which indicate that abortion may increase a woman's risk of experiencing violence in numerous ways," Reardon said. "In short, controlling for exposure to violence which occurs after an abortion may be taking out one of the effects of abortion rather than an independent factor."


Other studies have found an increase in suicide, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, sleep disorders, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and other problems. This latest study adds more evidence to the need for meaningful help and alternatives to abortion, as well as measures, such as that recently passed in Nebraska, that would hold abortion businesses liable for failing to screen for coercion and other known factors that put women and teens at risk for mental health disorders after abortion.




Educate others: Download and share our Recent Research Fact Sheet highlighting studies on abortion's impact on women.





1. Mota, NP et. al., "Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders and Suicidal Behavior in a Nationally Representative Sample," The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 55(4): 239-246 (April 2010).

2. Fergusson, DM et. al., "Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2006) 47(1): 16-24.

3. Coleman, PK et. al., "Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders: Isolating the effects of abortion in the national comorbidity survey," Journal of Psychiatric Research (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.10.009.


See article on web site





Half of Aborting Women Are
Having Repeat Abortions, Study Finds

Experts Say Repeat Abortions Are Often
Result of Trauma, Coercion


New statistics published by the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute indicate that half of women undergoing abortions have had a previous abortion.


The high rate of repeat abortions poses a risk to women since having a repeat abortion increases the likelihood that a woman will have physical or mental health problems afterward, including a higher risk of substance abuse and subsequent preterm birth. Women who have repeat abortions are also more likely to be living in unstable situations, be divorced or be dependent on social services.


Experts say that there are a number of reasons why women might have multiple abortions. One reason is traumatic reenactment, a symptom related to post-traumatic stress disorder, in which a person continually repeats the trauma in an attempt to resolve it.


The problem may also be compounded by the desire of many women to have a "replacement pregnancy" after an abortion, only to find that the problems and pressures that led to abortion in the first place still exist and they once again see no other alternative. If abuse, pressure or force from others is involved it may be very difficult for her to break away from the abusive cycle.


Repeat Abortions As a Result of Coercion


Repeat abortions are also often facilitated by the fact that abortions are frequently performed without any effort to determine why a woman or girl is aborting, even when there is coercion or abuse involved. A study of U.S. women who had abortions found that even though 64 percent are pressured to abort and more than half felt rushed or uncertain about about abortion, 67 percent said they didn't receive any counseling before abortion and 84 percent said they didn't receive enough counseling to make an informed decision.


Further, abortions are usually performed without any attempt to screen women or girls for coercion or for factors, including repeat abortions, that put them at risk for psychological problems afterward.




Learn more: Read an excerpt about repeat abortions from Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.


See article on web site  







So Much of Me Died
One Woman's Story of Repeat Abortions

I remember the events surrounding my abortions clearly. There are some things that are so utterly terrible, so devastating, they never fade from the mind or heart.


I idolized my boyfriend, whom I met when I was 17. We had been together on and off for several years. Despite his treatment of me, which at times could be very cruel, and his vicious temper, I truly loved him. I just had to try harder, or be better, or take more care to avoid upsetting him. I dreaded his temper and would put up with just about anything to avoid a scene.


I think that he became aware of this gradually, because over the years his dominion over me increased to a point where he became a tyrant. I had to wear what he said, do my hair the way he wanted, never have friends of my own over unless he was out of town. I really never stopped to analyze any of this. I guess I was too young and besotted with him to realize that ours was not a normal relationship. I believed that if only I could please him more, everything would be all right.


When I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled. It had not been planned, but I was truly happy. I spent most of the day working out the baby’s due date, who it would look like, and thoughts of that nature, but when my boyfriend arrived home and I broke the news, he flew into a terrifying rage. I wept, begged and cajoled, but to no avail. He was adamant that I have an abortion.


Continue reading ...




Learn more: Read other stories from women who've been there in Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion. Order this book in May and get 30% off.


See article on web site  







Respect Life Ministry in Miami to Hold Life Issues Workshop


The Respect Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami in Florida is holding a Life Issues Workshop on Sat. June 12 at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. The workshop will emphasize the consistent efforts of the Church to witness on behalf of all human life and focus on issues such as abortion, stem cell research and human cloning. For more information, contact the Respect Life office at 954-981-2922 or go here.



Entering Caanan Healing Retreats Offered in New York


Lumina Post-Abortion Healing Ministry and the Sisters of Life are offering "Entering Caanan" healing events for women who have experienced abortion in the New York area. These events are Sacramental journeys led by women who have experienced abortion and guided by a priest. The next retreat will be held on June 19. For more information, visit here. You can also find out about other healing events to be held in the Tri-State area here.




If you have an announcement for a resource or upcoming event that you would like us to include in this e-newsletter, please send it with "Announcement" in the subject line. We reserve the right to reject announcements that are unsuitable or that don't fit with our mission, and to edit announcements for length.





Resources on Abortion's Impact
on Women


Free Resources Visit the world's most comprehensive online bibliography of abortion studies

Recent Research Fact Sheet to download, copy and share



Sale!  Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion

Order by May 31 and get 30% off (not including shipping)


Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion

Aborted Women, Silent No More




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