Study Finds That Abortion Doesn’t Cause Depression in Teens

November 12, 2010

In the United States, 34 states require women to receive counseling before having abortions—a policy that definitely doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Seven states, though, specifically warn women about negative psychological consequences of having an abortion. But this raises a big question: Does abortion actually cause mental health problems?

The American Psychological Association (APA) concluded in 2008 that abortion does not cause adult women to have mental health issues, and a study by Jocelyn T. Warren and her colleagues at Oregon State University recently revealed the same for teenagers. This study, which was the first to specifically research our age group, found that abortion does not lead to depression or low self-esteem in teens.

The new data comes from a nationwide survey of teenagers called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. It compared pregnant teenagers who chose to have abortions with those who did not, and found the first group about as mentally healthy as the second. This news means we must take a closer look at the counseling women receive before having abortions. After two studies that show abortion doesn’t cause mental health problems, why are there states with laws warning women that abortion will psychologically harm them? The researchers even claim that warning women of mental health risks may actually be harmful because it increases anxiety surrounding the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Since such an overly negative warning may not be accurate, or might even be biased, it also prevents women from making well-informed choices. When making a decision as important as whether or not to end a pregnancy, women need to receive correct, impartial information about the mental and physical consequences of the procedure. We need studies like Warren’s, and more of them, to make sure that women are as well-informed as possible when it comes to abortion.

—Meg Gibbon, 18, Contributor

Posted In: Pregnancy
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