Science prevails: abortion and mental health.


Politics and ideology have long battled — and often trumped — the scientific evidence surrounding the safety of abortion. This has been particularly true of the issue of abortion and mental health. Although major organizations, including the American Psychological Association, have been firm in their assertions that abortion does not harm mental health, antichoice activists have used questionable science to push the concept of “post-abortion syndrome” into both clinical practice and law. For years, this specious claim has been fueling attempts in the United States to legislate that women be informed of this “risk” or denied access to abortion to protect them from “risk”. The U.S. Supreme Court cited the possibility of women experiencing “regret...[which can be followed by] severe depression and loss of esteem” after abortion in its decision to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (Gonzales v. Carhart), all the while acknowledging that there are “no reliable data to measure the phenomenon” [1]. Fortunately, recent reviews of the scientific literature reinforce what many reproductive health care providers already know: evidence for the claim that abortion negatively affects a woman's mental health is lacking. How well we as reproductive health providers and advocates are able to convey this positive message to patients, the public, and policymakers will depend, in part, on how well we ourselves understand the findings and feel confident in their scientific integrity. Here, we examine the details of some recent analyses, the strength of their scientific underpinnings, and their implications for clinical practice.

DOI: 10.1016/j.contraception.2008.10.011

Cite this paper

@article{Steinberg2009SciencePA, title={Science prevails: abortion and mental health.}, author={Julia Renee Steinberg and Beth Jordan and Elisa S. Wells}, journal={Contraception}, year={2009}, volume={79 2}, pages={81-3} }