MercatorNet Carolyn Moynihan 19 March 2008
After 40 years and 6.6 million abortions British psychiatrists say there could be harmful psychological effects.
It is being hailed in Britain as a major breakthrough in professional attitudes to abortion. Last weekend the Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a statement acknowledging that induced abortion may harm a woman’s mental health and advising professionals to assess and counsel women accordingly. The cautious one-page document, noting that the evidence for the association is inconclusive, may seem “anodyne” says one psychiatrist, who prefers not be named, but in reality it is “a huge step. It’s a shift from being pro-choice to being neutral.”
“Balanced and reasonable” is the verdict of the author of well-regarded New Zealand research on abortion showing its link with mental disorders. “The statement acknowledges the risks to mental health, but it also acknowledges the uncertainty. I think it’s really exemplary in its objectivity,” said David Fergusson in a telephone interview with MercatorNet. Professor Fergusson is director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, which has followed the progress of 1265 children born in the city in 1977. Data from interviews with women in the study published two years ago showed a 50 per cent higher risk, overall, of problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance abuse among those who had had an abortion.