Women who have an abortion face a 30 per cent increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, according to a new study from the University of Otago, Christchurch.
The study found that women who have had an
abortion are more likely to have mental health
problems than those that kept their child.
The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance use. In contrast, none of the other pregnancy outcomes was consistently related to significantly increased risks of mental health problems.
However the research findings have implications for the legal status of abortion in New Zealand and the UK where over 90 per cent of terminations are authorised on the grounds that proceeding with the pregnancy will pose a serious threat to the woman's mental health. This study backs up other overseas research which concludes that women who have had an abortion are more likely to have mental health problems than those that kept their child.
Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden, studied the pregnancy and mental health history of over 500 women. The women have taken part in the long-running Christchurch Health and Development Study from birth to the age of 30.
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