Abortion may not necessarily be a deterrent to a woman's mental health, contrary to what anti-abortion advocates have suggested.
But if a woman is denied a chance to have one, it may affect their well-being, resulting in poorer self-esteem and life satisfaction, and triggering anxiety.
‘By comparing two very similar groups of women, the study provides very solid evidence of what the effects of abortion on women’s mental health are.’
The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, tracked about 1,000 women who had abortions within a five-year period and found those who underwent the procedure did not experience more anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or dissatisfaction with life than women who were denied abortions.
In contrast, researchers found women who had been denied abortion access because they were too far along in their pregnancies actually had more psychological symptoms following the denial.
In this study, compared with having an abortion, being denied an abortion may be associated with greater risk of initially experiencing adverse psychological outcomes. However, after about six months, their mental health started to improve and became similar to the mental health of women who were able to have an abortion.
The study also examined the mental state women were in prior to having an abortion, which could impact their mental health following the procedure, something other studies have failed to do.
Self-esteem and life satisfaction was worse for the women turned away and denied an abortion. The researchers believe that may be due to financial problems, poor timing, having existing children, partner issues, and other reasons women commonly give when they seek an abortion.
Approximately two-thirds of women who give birth had planned pregnancies, while almost all women who chose to get an abortion had unplanned pregnancies.