Emotional Cost of Abortion vs Childbirth – Repost

As we have reached the 25th anniversary of the Morgantaler decision that decriminalized abortion in Canada, I thought I’d re-post an article I wrote back in February of 2011 on the Emotional Cost of Abortion vs Childbirth. This is one of the consistent lies told by the anti-choice campaigners. Certainly without their constant bullying, any negative emotional of abortion would be decreased immeasurably.

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One of the arguments that the anti-choice campaigners use to scare women away from having abortions is the emotional cost. Even sites that try to be neutral repeat this ‘fact‘. The premise is supposedly backed up by the number of women who seek counselling or psychiatric assistance post abortion. However, it is only recently that anyone has empirically examined these numbers, especially in any comparative sense.

A study from The Netherlands published in the New England Journal of Medicine attempts to do just that. As in so many cases, I do not have access to the full article while other bloggers do.

They 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.

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.

In other words, the emotional cost of childbirth is greater than that of having an abortion. Of course, the Catholic Church denies science in favour of their own biases. They disagree with the study and point out some of the flaws in it. However, they don’t offer any competing studies, only their own beliefs, such as post-partum depression results disappears in a short time, without any long term effects.

We are all aware of several high profile cases where women with postpartum depression have killed, or attempted to kill, their children. As in any depressive episode, serious suicidal thoughts, are also present. These present a very real risk. And of course, as with so many things, low income women are the most at-risk group. One of the reasons might be the lack of availability these women have to abortion in the first place, resulting in a higher number of unwanted births. There will also be increased stress as they do not have the financial resources to provide for the child.

The debate about abortion is not going to go away any time soon, and there will always be those who ignore science. However, bringing solid science to the table may decrease the acrimony of the debate (I know–dream on), or perhaps sway law makers with logic rather than emotion.

We can always hope.

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