illness risk ‘rises 30 per cent for women
who have abortions’
By Rachel Ellis
Last updated at 2:45 PM on 30th November 2008
The Mail on Sunday
Women who have an abortion are three times more
likely to develop drug or alcohol addiction, according
who have an abortion are three times more likely
to develop a drug or alcohol addiction and 30 per
cent more likely to have mental disorders compared
with other women, research has revealed.
The evidence from two studies comes as the number
of women having an abortion in England and Wales
exceeded 200,000 for the first time last year.
More abortions – 57,000 – were carried
out on women aged 20 to 24 than any other age group.
However, there were 4,400 on the under-16s.
Anxiety and drug abuse are the most common mental
problems after an abortion, according to a study
of 500 women published today in the British Journal
David Fergusson, who led the research, said the
findings had ‘important implications’
– because more than 90 per cent of British
abortions were authorised on the grounds that keeping
an unwanted baby would cause the mother mental health
He said: ‘This evidence clearly poses a challenge
to the use of psychiatric reasons to justify abortion.
There is nothing in this study that would suggest
that the termination of pregnancy was associated
with lower risks of mental health problems than
some women, abortion is likely to be a stressful
and traumatic life event which places them at a
modestly increased risk of a range of common mental
But his team at the University of Otago, New Zealand,
said the overall effect of abortion on mental health
was small. They estimate it is responsible for between
1.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent of disorders.
A second study shows that women who lose a baby
by the age of 21 – either through an abortion
or a miscarriage – are three times more likely
to develop a drug or alcohol problem than others.
Researcher Kaeleen Dingle, of the University of
Queensland, Australia, said: ‘Abortion and
miscarriage are stressful life events that have
been shown to lead to anxiety, sadness and grief
and, for some women, serious depression and substance
The Royal College of Psychiatrists called the evidence
pro-life campaigners claim it shows women should
be warned of all the risks of abortion.
Quintavalle, of the Alive And Kicking Campaign,
said: ‘If there is any risk to the woman’s
mental health, she should be assessed by someone
who is properly qualified and made aware of those
Ann Furedi, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service,
admitted abortion could cause a huge amount of stress
and anxiety but added: ‘Abortion does not
necessarily cause the problem. It can be linked
to other events in their life.’