Study: Women Who Have Abortion Face 81% Increased Risk of Mental Health Problems

By Michael W. Chapman | May 24, 2018 | 2:40pm EDT

( -- An analysis of 22 studies on abortion and mental health showed that women who had an abortion faced an "81% increased risk of mental health problems" and that nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was "shown to be directly attributable to abortion," according to a report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, and posted online in January of this year.

The report also found that women who carried their babies to term experienced a "protective effect," in that the suicide rate for mothers (per 100,000) was nearly 50% lower than that of women of reproductive age (per 100,000) who had not had children. Further, "several other studies conducted in different countries have revealed even lower rates of suicide following birth when compared with women in the general population," according to the report.

The report, "Abortion and Mental Health: Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995 - 2009," is written by Priscilla K. Coleman. She is the Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Coleman also is the co-author of Post-Abortion Trauma: Possible Psychological and Existential Aftermaths, published by the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican. 


In the report, Coleman examined 22 peer-reviewed studies -- 15 from the United States and seven from other countries.

In total, there were 877,181 participants in the studies, "of whom 163,831 had experienced an abortion," reported Coleman. The studies looked at abortion and its potential impact through 36 "measures of effect," which included "9 alcohol use/misuse, 5 marijuana, 7 anxiety, 11 depression, 4 suicidal behavior." 

"Based on data extracted from 22 studies, the results of this meta-analytic review of the abortion and mental health literature indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure," reads the report. 

"Overall, the results revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be directly attributable to abortion," said Coleman. 


"The strongest effects were observed when women who had had an abortion were compared with women who had carried to term and when the outcomes measured related to aubstance use and suicidal behavior," wrote Coleman. 

She also reported, "The finding that abortion is associated with significantly higher risks of mental health problems compared with carrying a pregnancy to term is consistent with literature demonstrating protective effects of pregnancy delivered relative to particular mental health outcomes. For example, with regard to suicide, Gissler et al reported the annual suicide rate for women of reproductive age to be 11.3 per 100,000, whereas the rate was only 5.9 per 100,000 in association with birth."

In conclusion, Colman said, "The composite results reported herein indicate that abortion is a statistically validated risk factor for the development of various psychological disorders." 

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