Abortion vs. Unwanted Pregnancy: The Impact on Mental Health

Two years ago, there were poignant anecdotes published on the pages of Shakesville and Her Bad Mother, looking at the emotional consequences of abortion and adoption from a deeply personal perspective. These are the type of anecdotes that help personalize the important case for choice. As much as stories help, however, we all know that “the plural of anecdote is not data.” But now, there is  data demonstrating that abortion does not have a greater impact on a woman’s mental health than carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and giving birth.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges published the largest, most comprehensive and systematic review of the mental health impact of abortion. According to the Steering Group, which conducted the review:

Having an unwanted pregnancy is associated with an increased mental health problems. However, the rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy are the same, whether they have an abortion or give birth.

Previous mental health issues, women’s attitudes towards abortion, pressure to have an abortion, or other stressful life events can all contribute to increased post-abortion mental health issues. Overall, the conclusion of the of the Steering Group is that all women who have an unwanted pregnancy should be supported and should be reassured that the choice is theirs to make.

In her anonymous post on Shakesville, the woman who told her story wrote:

I have given a baby up for adoption, and I have had an abortion, and while anecdotes are not evidence, I can assert that abortions may or may not cause depression – it certainly did not in me, apart from briefly mourning the path not taken – but adoption? That is an entirely different matter. I don’t doubt that there are women who were fine after adoption, and there is emphatically nothing wrong with that or with them; but I want to point out that if we’re going to have a seemingly neverending discussion about the sorrow and remorse caused by abortion, then it is about goddamn time that we hear from birth mothers too. Believe me when I say that of the two choices, it was adoption that nearly destroyed me – and it never ends.

She also wrote about the lack of support for women who do go through the adoption process. There is plenty of “help” to get them to make the decision to carry their baby to term and give it up for adoption, but not nearly enough support for the emotional fallout from doing so.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges study found that while 11 to 12 percent of women suffer from mental health issues, around one third of women with an unwanted pregnancy suffer from mental health problems. This data certainly furthers the case for better education on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies, as well as for easy access to emergency contraception.


Related Stories

Health Secretary Blocks Proposal to Allow Plan B on Drugstore Shelves

Survey Shows Need for Better Teen Sex Ed

Teens Today Postponing Sex, Using Condoms


Image credit: dno1967b on flickr


Jenny B.
Jenny B.11 months ago

Keep up posting such great information; I am glad from this provided piece of information. Thanks snugglenado

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

"Rainbow ,Yes , Yes and yes . ,There is false relg."

Ah, yes; MY elf god is the real deal, yours is just a pallid copy.

And a spot hits jesus and he begins to rap:

May I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please?
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
We're gonna have a problem here..

'Cause I'm Slim Shady, yes I'm the real Shady
All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating
So won't the real Slim Shady please stand up,
Please stand up, please stand up?

Carol m.
Carol m.2 years ago

Rainbow ,Yes , Yes and yes . ,There is false relg. Some have said that the various relgions ALL represent different ways of presenting religious truth.But a comparison of their teachings and PRACTICES with the bible indicates , rather , that the diversity of religions is because people have become followers of men instead of God. , to a large extent , teachings THEY hold in common DIFFER from the bible ,which originated in ancient Babylon where all false teachings started , Mark 7:6,7...Jesus called them hypocrites, as it is written, " This people honor me wit their lips but ,their hearts are far removed from me, It is in vain that they keep worshiping me , because they teach as doctrines commands of men" so now all the religious confusion , and who does the bible identify for such relg. confusion ? "Satan the devil as the god of this system of things" NOW, how can we tell the difference ? If we worked for the gov`t to find counterfit money , how would we be able to tell which one is the real bill , we wouldn`t have to examine each and every counterfit bill , we would only have to know what the real bill looked like . and where would we start ? looking into Gods word to find truth. examine it then and only then can we identify the fake from the real .....

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

"that soon there will be an end put on such things as abuse , rape, abortion, unwanted pregnancy and the impact on mental health"
They're abolishing religion? That's the only way were going to stop this.

"To ALL ...Just want to say I know how you feel , I feel the same way , Relg. has caused evil for centuries, but I am not talking about Relg. Or should I say FALSE Relg."
There's false religion? How can you tell the difference? Aren't you quoting from the bible? So how can you tell?

Carol m.
Carol m.2 years ago

To ALL ...Just want to say I know how you feel , I feel the same way , Relg. has caused evil for centuries, but I am not talking about Relg. Or should I say FALSE Relg. as that is the very reason that people don`t believe in God . they can see the lies and what it has done to mankind. But I would welcome any legitimate question . If I can not answere it right away I will try to find the answere for you , but please just one honest question at a time , more at a time gets over done . thank you and keep an open mind

Carol m.
Carol m.2 years ago

Pam , Please realize that there are people that want to know ( even if you don`t ) that soon there will be an end put on such things as abuse , rape, abortion, unwanted pregnancy and the impact on mental health, Now tell me and all honest hearted people that we don`t want answeres to these problems mankind face , I thought that is what this is all about? Just some good news for all that want the same. that`s what we share with people .

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

Good night ladies.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Good night Suba, Rainbow and Pam ...... can't stop ; I'm "shattered" and off to bed. Will try to find you earlier tomorrow - have a good weekend !!

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

I think these are funny.
Q: Why did the atheist throw her watch out the window? A: She wanted to see if it was designed intelligently enough to evolve into a bird.
Q: What is so ironic about Atheists? A: They’re always talking about God.
Q: Why did the Atheist cross the road? A: He thought there might be a street on the other side, but he wouldn’t believe it until he tested his hypothesis.

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

"Suba, I see you go along with making this a joke"

Carol, religion is a joke and you are a fool. I would laugh harder if I could stop thinking of the evil religious nuts inflict on the world.