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Abortion Less Traumatic Than Childbirth, Study Finds

As the abortion wars heat up once again, there’s a new study out that’s sure to add fuel to the fire. A leading medical journal reports...

As the abortion wars heat up once again, there’s a new study out that’s sure to add fuel to the fire. A leading medical journal reports that having an abortion may be less damaging to a woman’s mental health than having a baby.

The study — which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week — tracked 365,550 girls and women in Denmark who had a first-trimester abortion or first-time delivery between 1995 and 2007. Researchers selected females with no history of mental health problems prior to getting pregnant. They then compared the rate of mental health treatment (as measured by an inpatient admission or outpatient visit) within the 12 months after the abortion or childbirth as compared with the 9-month period preceding it.

The study found that women who had an abortion sought psychiatric treatment at roughly the same rate before and after that event, while the incidence with which women who gave birth sought counseling increased dramatically after having a baby.

Specifically, one percent of women sought help for possible mental disorders in the nine months before the abortion, while 1.5 percent did so in the 12 months that followed. On the other hand, 0.3 percent of women who gave live birth visited a psychiatrist for the first time in the nine months before birth compared to an average of 0.7 percent in the year that followed. So even though women seeking abortions are statistically more likely to have emotional problems to begin with, the study concludes they actually “suffer” less after the abortion than their counterparts who have children.

The scholars’ conclusion? Contrary to popular belief (and heretofore received scientific wisdom), women’s mental health is not seriously compromised by having an (early) abortion.

Read the rest of this story at


Image: Pregnant Woman by Bete a Bon-Dieu via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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  1. Patricia February 2, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    Wow this new definition of rape bill being rushed through congress right now is really horrible – of course when Republican’s say NO is the only time it means NO. I just do not understand where are the young women to protest this? It is Barbaric – dark ages kinds of thinking
    All we hear about is Egypt – at least folks are yelling out loudly there
    Ooo this is making me crazy after all the work and marches and My 70 and 80 year old friends are so dismayed – all their efforts for naught?

  2. daryl boylan February 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Stop making sense — the looniest tunes are in their groove now & will make the most of it.

  3. Donna February 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I’ve talked to friends over the past 40 years on this subject. Almost all of the women I know have had an abortion. The general feeling is that we felt empowered that we had control over our fertility. Unwelcomed pregnancies create stressful births and childhoods.

    • delialloyd February 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      I’m sure many women do regret having an abortion, but – and this is a harsh reality – many also regret having children they weren’t ready/prepared to raise. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Shelley February 3, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    The first thing I thought when I read your title was ‘Who cares what’s traumatic for women or not?’. I can’t say I’ve ever really understood the position and aim of the right to lifers and the conservative politicians, but I’m pretty certain it isn’t about making life any better for women.


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