Women who have an abortion is denied have a higher risk for mental health problems soon after compared with the women who are allowed to continue with the process, a new study suggests.
For five years, researchers tracked nearly 1,000 women who received or were denied abortions from 30 facilities in 21 U.S. states.
A total of 273 women received an abortion in the first trimester, 413 receive an abortion within two weeks of the pregnancy to limit, and 231 were denied an abortion, because the pregnancy fell within the three weeks after the facility limit.
A week later, in comparison with women who have an abortion, who were turned away were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety, lower self-esteem and lower satisfaction with life.
“These differences disappear after six months to a year,” says lead author Antonia Biggs of the University of California, San Francisco. By six months, women who had an abortion and were turned away had a similar mental health profiles.
Nine countries have laws that force providers to tell women that having an abortion will increase the risk for mental health problems, Biggs and her colleagues in JAMA Psychiatry, online December 14th.
“This research shows the information that they required women to receive (is)incorrect and outdated,” Biggs told Reuters Health. “We have no evidence that abortion leads women have a worse mental health.”
“It’s true that we haven’t had a lot of evidence to look at this particular question,” she said. “Now that we do, we should really go back and think about the information that we give women and make sure that it is correct and up-to-date.”
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Biggs and colleagues write that a large number of studies on the mental health effects of abortion on women found no evidence that it leads to poor results, but these studies were often flawed. This new study, Biggs said, addressed limitations in the past research. Women who had an abortion were compared with the other women who have an abortion, and not the women who wanted their pregnancy. In addition, the comparisons were made between women who are around the same point in their pregnancy.
In a statement, the chief medical officer of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that the results show why politicians should not play doctor.
“Every woman should have the right information about all its possibilities,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley in the statement. “That information should support a woman, help her make a decision for herself, and enable her to care for her health and well-being. It should not be delivered with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging a woman.”
The researchers caution that the new study cannot say that the denial of the women that an abortion causes the increase of the symptoms. In addition, only 40 percent of the invited women agreed to participate in the study, and almost a third of the participants not all of the five years of follow-up.