NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 10, 2006

Abortion negatively affects the psychological health of teenage girls, according to a study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry:

In what may be the biggest study of its kind, David Fergusson of Christchurch School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Christchurch, New Zealand, and other scientists examined the psychological consequences of abortion for New Zealand women age 15 to 25. According to the scientists:

  • Some 41 percent of women had become pregnant on at least one occasion prior to age 25, with 14.6 percent having an abortion. Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders. This association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors.
  • Depression, anxiety and other negative effects occurred after the abortions, the researchers said. These are not cases of depressed, drug-addicted or otherwise disturbed women being more likely to abort their children -- the abortions preceded the disturbances.

In this study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry:

  • Fergusson and his colleagues found that girls 15 to 18 who had not gotten pregnant had a 31.2 percent chance of experiencing major depression. Those who became pregnant but did not have an abortion had a 35.7 percent chance. But those who had an abortion had an astonishing 78.6 percent chance.
  • For anxiety, the statistics were similar. No pregnancy: 37.9 percent; pregnancy, no abortion: 35.7 percent; abortion: 64.3 percent.
  • And for ideas of suicide, a horrific mark of mental illness, the figures were: No pregnancy: 23 percent; pregnancy, no abortion: 25 percent; abortion: 50 percent.

Moreover, says Fergusson, abortion causes mental health problems, not the other way around, and women's backgrounds have nothing to do with it.

Source: Joseph A. D'Agostino, "Abortion Causes Massive Mental Health Problems for Women," Human Events, January 2006; based upon: David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood and Elizabeth M. Ridder, "Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 47 Issue 1, January 2006; and Report of the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion, December 2005.

For Fergusson study:


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