Teen Depression and Abortion Not Linked

Picture of Ellen Paige from Juno, big belly in the hallway at schoolA new study from Oregon State University shows that teens who have abortions are no more likely to be depressed or have low self-esteem than teens whose pregnancies do not end in abortion. This is the latest evidence in an ongoing debate about connections between mental health and abortion. Although in a 2008 study the American Psychological Association found no evidence between mental health and abortion, there had not been any official studies done on teens until now.

This is good news that legislators and experts can point to when states debate the utility of pre-abortion counseling and ultrasound requirements, especially if Republican and Tea Party candidates push abortion as a central issue in the mid-term elections.

The Guttmacher Institute who published this study reports:

While 34 states currently require that women receive counseling before an abortion is performed, seven of these states specifically require that women be warned of possible negative psychological consequences resulting from the procedure. “Paradoxically,” the authors of the new study suggest, “laws mandating that women considering abortion be advised of its psychological risks may jeopardize women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining women’s right to informed consent.”

The study is available in its entirety here and will be published in the sexual and reproductive health journal, Perspectives of Sexual and Reproductive Health, in December 2010.

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  • tabloidscully

    While I agree that pre-abortion counseling is not something that should be mandated as a tool of intimidation, I find the text of this report disturbing. Those of us who have suffered severe and debilitating depression in the wake of our abortions have continually met with stigma from all sides. It isn’t enough to be pro-choice and to follow through with that belief in terminating your own pregnancy; you have to be willing to pretend like it doesn’t bother you or still impact you, even when it does.

    I don’t view these findings as empowering. Does anyone actually believe that Tea Partiers, Conservatives and Republicans are against abortion because of the effects it can have an abortion? Of course not–they took a phenomena that the pro-choice movement didn’t want to acknowledge for fear it would empower anti-choice rhetoric and have exploited it. They don’t care about us beyond how our experiences can serve as the means to meet their ends.

    It’s disappointing. I remain adamantly pro-choice and continue to fight for other women’s right to chose, to share their stories and honor their experiences. My experiences, however, have taught me to be careful to what extent I discuss the steep depression I sunk into following my abortion–and that, to me, seems incredibly disappointing. Feminism and choice rhetoric will be well-served to be inclusive of all narratives and dialogs of experience.