Abortion does not trigger lasting emotional trauma in young women who are psychologically healthy before they become pregnant, an eight-year study of nearly 5,300 women has shown, researchers say.
Women who are in poor shape emotionally after an abortion are likely to have been feeling bad about their lives before terminating their pregnancies, the study found.
The findings, the researchers say, challenge the validity of laws that have been proposed in many states, and passed in several, mandating that women seeking abortions be informed of mental health risks.
The researchers examined the effects of race and religion on the well-being of 773 women who reported on sealed questionnaires that they had undergone abortions, and they compared the results with the emotional status of women who did not report abortions.
The women, initially 14 to 24 years old, completed questionnaires and were interviewed each year for eight years, starting in 1979.
In 1980 and in 1987, the interview also included a standardized test that measures overall well-being, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
“Given the persistent assertion that abortion is associated with negative outcomes, the lack of any results in the context of such a large sample is noteworthy,” the researchers wrote.
The study took into account many factors that can influence a woman’s emotional well-being, including education, employment, income, the presence of a spouse and the number of children.