Abortion and suicide

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A 2008 official statement from Britain's Royal College of Psychiatrists states that women may be at risk of mental breakdowns if they have abortions, and that women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counseled on the possible risk to their mental health.[1]

According to The Times, the Royal College's decision follows in the wake of a number of studies indicating that abortion may contribute to mental health problems. It particularly notes that the controversy over abortion and mental health in Britain "intensified earlier this year when an inquest in Cornwall heard that a talented artist hanged herself because she was overcome with grief after aborting her twins. Emma Beck, 30, left a note saying: 'Living is hell for me. I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I want to be with my babies; they need me, no one else does.'"[1]

The Stacey Zallie Foundation was formed after Stacey's suicide following an abortion.[1][2]


In the year following a pregnancy outcome, women who have an abortion are three times more likely to commit suicide than women who have not been pregnant and six times more likely to have an abortion than are women who carry to term. Specifically, A record-based study of Finnish women found that in the year following a pregnancy outcome the rate of suicide following abortion was 34.7 per 100,000 compared to 5.9 per 100,000 for women who gave birth, 18.1 per 100,000 for women who had miscarriages, and 11.4 per 100,000 for women who had not been pregnant in the prior year.[2]

The findings from Finland were met with the objection that higher rates of suicide may be due to higher rates of pre-existing mental illness among women who are more likely to have abortions. The women who are most likely to have abortions, the theory goes, are more likely to be emotionally unstable and prone to suicide.

To investigate this theory, British researchers in 1997 examined rates of suicide attempts in a population of 408,000 people. They found that the suicide attempts before and after deliveries remained unchanged, or declined. But suicide attempts after an abortion rose significantly higher. They concluded the rise in suicides was more likely due to abortion related reactions than to pre-existing suicidal tendencies.(Morgan, BMJ, 1996)

A subsequent 2002 study of records for more than 173,000 California Medicaid patients who were pregnancies in 1989 also disproved the prior mental health theory. After controlling for prior mental illness, researchers found that the suicide rates were significantly elevated for an eight years period following an abortion. By contrast, suicide rates after a delivery were lower than the national average.[3]

This review of the literature on abortion and death rates is a key resource that can be used to further develop this article. [4]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sarah-Kate Templeton, Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness TimesOnline.co.uk accessed March 18, 2008
  2. Gissler M, Hemminki E, Lonnqvist J. Suicides after pregnancy in Finland: 1987-94: register linkage study. BMJ 1996;313:1431-4 Full Text
  3. Reardon DC, Ney PG, Scheuren FJ, Cougle JR, Coleman, PK, Strahan T. Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women. Southern Medical Journal. 95(8):834-841, August 2002. Full Text
  4. Reardon DC, Strahan TW, Thorp JM, Shuping MW. Deaths associated with abortion compared to childbirth: a review of new and old data and the medical and legal implications. The Journal of Contemporary Health Law & Policy 2004; 20(2):279-327. Full Text