Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/12 10:27:37 GMT
Abortion 'leaves mental legacy'
An abortion can cause five years of mental anguish, anxiety, guilt and
even shame, a BMC Medicine study suggests.
University of Oslo researchers compared 40 women who had had a
miscarriage with 80 who chose to have an abortion.
Miscarriage was associated with more mental distress in the six months
after the loss of a baby - but abortion had a much longer lasting
Pro-choice campaigners said there was no evidence abortion directly
caused psychological trauma.
The researchers said their work underlined the importance of giving
women information about the psychological effects of losing a baby -
either through miscarriage or abortion.
The Oslo team found that, after 10 days, 47.5% of women who had
miscarried suffered from some degree of mental distress compared with
30% of the abortion group.
The proportion of women who had a miscarriage suffering distress
decreased during the study period, to 22.5% at six months and to just
2.6% at two years and five years.
But among the abortion group 25.7% were still experiencing distress
after six months, and 20% at five years.
The researchers also said that women who had an abortion had to make
an effort to avoid thinking about the event.
The researchers, led by Anne Nordal Broen, said the responses of the
women in the miscarriage group were similar to those expected after a
traumatic life event.
However, the abortion group had more complex responses.
Richard Warren, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists, said: "It has always been considered, and this study
also shows, that the decision to terminate may bring with it
long-standing feelings of anxiety and guilt.
"While most women are able to manage and cope with these feelings,
when necessary, the need for ongoing support and counselling should be
recognised and appropriate help given."
Anna Pringle, from the anti-abortion charity Life, said: "This
confirms years of experience with women who come to us for counselling
"The emotional suffering can be massive."
However, a spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service -
the UK's leading provider of abortion services - said most women
weighed up the consequences fully before opting for an abortion.
"We don't see that many women for post-abortion counselling.
"We offer that service but women very rarely come back because they
are able to cope with it by themselves."
A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association, said: "There is no
evidence to suggest that abortion directly causes psychological
"Women can experience mixed feelings after an abortion such as relief
"These are natural reactions and few women experience long-term problems."
(c) BBC MMV