Live Action News has previously reported on the Whole Woman’s Health abortion facility chain and its long list of health violations dating back years, as well as some the deceptive information it lists on its website regarding abortion. Adding to this list is the chain’s claim that women are unlikely to suffer emotional or mental effects after an abortion. The chain has the following information on its website, aimed at women considering abortion:
Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare. They are about as uncommon as they are after giving birth. If there are issues, they are more likely to happen to people who have to end a pregnancy because of health reasons, or people who have a history of mental health problems.
Whole Woman’s Health assures women coming in for abortions that they are unlikely to experience mental health problems afterwards. But what does the research say?
High dropout rates plague many studies which claim women suffer no ill effects
There are some studies that show only a small percentage of women suffer from depression or regret after abortion. But these studies have major methodological flaws and are nearly all based on questionnaires. These questionnaires are given right after the abortion, and then again a few weeks or months later. Few of the studies follow women very long, which means they may miss emotional problems that develop years later. Many post-abortive women describe regret surfacing years or even decades after their abortions.
Another problem with these studies is that large numbers of women drop out of them between the first and subsequent questionnaires.
For example, one study that was widely reported found that only 1.4% of women suffered post-abortive symptoms two years after their abortions. But 50% of the original sample dropped out of the study, even though women were paid to participate.
A researcher involved in a different study, Dr. Hanna Soderberg, found that “for many of the women, the reason for non-participation seemed to be a sense of guilt and remorse that they did not wish to discuss.” Soderberg’s study found that 60% of post-abortive women suffered emotional distress after their abortions. For 16% of women, this distress was classified as “severe.” Seventy percent of the women said they would not choose abortion again.
The problem of a high participant dropout rate affects seems to be an issue with every study based on questionnaires, which found a low rate of post-abortive mental health problems.
Abortion and suicide
Studies also show a link between abortion and suicide. Two studies, based on medical records in Finland, show that women who had abortions were 6-7 times more likely to die by suicide than women who gave birth. Since these studies only covered the first year after the abortions, it is possible these numbers are higher.
A British study found that women who aborted were 225% more likely to attempt suicide than women who gave birth. The situation is even worse for teenagers, who are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide if they had an abortion. That particular study covered a period of only six months. Yet another study found a 154% higher suicide rate for women who have abortions.
Another more recent study divided post-abortive women into those who aborted “wanted” and “unwanted” pregnancies. It found that women who aborted “unwanted” pregnancies “had a 94% higher risk of subsequent suicidal thoughts than women without a history of abortion.” They were also 270% more likely to abuse alcohol after their abortions. About 5.3% of these women developed an addiction to drugs. Among those who aborted “wanted” pregnancies, 15.8% developed drug addictions. Rates of depression and mental illness were elevated in both groups of women. However, rates of mental illness among those who aborted wanted pregnancies were higher.
A recent study of testimonies posted online found that among women who took the abortion pill:
- 83% said they were changed by their abortions, with 77% saying the change was negative.
- 77% said they regretted their abortions.
- 60% reported feelings of isolation and alienation.
- 38% reported problems with anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and/or suicidal thoughts as a result of the abortion.
In addition, a 2017 study found that 67.5% of women who had abortions sought help from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor after their abortions. Only 13% of these women sought mental health treatment before their abortions.
The risks are real, and women deserve to know
This study seems to indicate that Whole Woman’s claim that only women with mental illnesses suffer from post-abortion trauma is false. According to that 2017 study:
Women generally did not speak of empowerment, the ability to control their reproductive destinies, liberation from abusive partners, the need for abortion in order to be competitive in the workplace, etc. To the contrary, in response to the inquiry regarding any positives that emerged, many women (nearly 32%) expressed no personal benefits of the experience.”
Another study found that women who aborted experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems. The study estimated that 10%, or one in 10, mental illnesses among the population were triggered by an abortion.
The study’s authors said that these risks “should be shared with women as they are counseled prior to an abortion decision.”
It is clear, however, that Whole Woman’s Health’s abortion facilities do not do this. Instead, they hide the truth from women.
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