Title

Abortion and Mental Health: Evaluating the Evidence

Publication Date

12-31-2009

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The authors evaluated empirical research addressing the relationship between induced abortion and women's mental health. Two issues were addressed: (a) the relative risks associated with abortion compared with the risks associated with its alternatives and (b) sources of variability in women's responses following abortion. This article reflects and updates the report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (2008). Major methodological problems pervaded most of the research reviewed. The most rigorous studies indicated that within the United States, the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have a single, legal, first-trimester abortion of an unwanted pregnancy is no greater than the risk among women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy. Evidence did not support the claim that observed associations between abortion and mental health problems are caused by abortion per se as opposed to other preexisting and co-occurring risk factors. Most adult women who terminate a pregnancy do not experience mental health problems. Some women do, however. It is important that women's varied experiences of abortion be recognized, validated, and understood.

Publication Title

American Psychologist

Volume

64

Issue

9

First Page

863

Last Page

890

DOI

10.1037/a0017497

Version

pre-print, post-print

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