Myth #2. — A woman is more likely to have mental health problems (like depression) if she has an abortion instead of continuing an unplanned pregnancy.

Fact:  Among women with an unplanned pregnancy, women who have a single, first-trimester abortion are not at greater risk for mental health problems than if they deliver that pregnancy.

This information comes from the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, which recently completed a comprehensive review of the best research about mental health and abortion.

What that means is that for all the women who have an unplanned pregnancy: some will continue that pregnancy and have a baby; others will have an abortion. From the women choosing to continue that pregnancy—most of them will be fine, some may have difficulty, and some may get depression. Of the women choosing to have a single first trimester abortion for that pregnancy—most of them will be fine, some may have difficulty and some may have depression. The rate of women having depression in the abortion group is not any higher than the rate of women in the continuing the pregnancy group.

The evidence about second trimester abortions or multiple abortions are less clear. Late terminations for fetal abnormality can have more negative outcomes. Women’s individual experiences surrounding abortion are unique and vary depending on individual life circumstances, the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, relationships, and the social and political culture in which the abortion takes place.   The best predictor of how well a woman will do after abortion is how well she was doing before abortion.

• Major B, Appelbaum M, Beckman L, Dutton M,  Russo, NF, West C (2008) Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. 08/13/08. See link: . Accessed 8 July 2009.
• Charles VE, Polis CB, Sridhara, SK, Blum RW (2008) Abortion and long-term mental health outcomes: A systematic review of the evidence. Contraception, 78(6), 436-450