Postpartum depression, a psychological illness caused by hormonal shifts occurring after childbirth that can lead to reactions ranging from irritability to sadness to despair, is an issue that’s garnered a lot of media attention of late. Brooke Shields’ battle with the disease, chronicled in her best-selling book Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, has helped bring about an improved discussion of this previously taboo phenomenon.
This is a positive development. The feelings of depression and hopelessness women sometimes experience after the birth of a child need to be acknowledged, understood, and treated in order for all child bearers to reach their full potential as mothers and as women.
Regrettably, though public consciousness of the negative psychological reactions new mothers may experience is growing, scant attention is paid to the profound feelings of sadness and despair that often follow the other life-changing pregnancy outcome: abortion.
Post-Abortion Syndrome, a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a subject of considerable controversy.
While Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates generally assert that the emotional effects of abortion are “largely positive,” others maintain — backed by mounting evidence — that the emotional risks to women who abort are profound and wide reaching.
IT’S BEEN NEARLY 20 YEARS since Surgeon General C. Everett Koop concluded that research on the psychological effects of abortion was entirely inadequate for drawing any general conclusions about either the efficacy or the dangers of abortion.
Since then, important empirical research has been conducted that points to a significant correlation between a woman’s abortion experience and subsequent psychological maladjustment.
For example, a Canadian study found that a higher number of abortions were correlated both with poor long-term health and with the need to obtain professional help in dealing with the losses.
Another study in the non-partisan American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse reported an increase in substance abuse experienced by post-abortive women. Women who had no history of substance abuse prior to their first pregnancy were, on average, twice as likely to abuse alcohol, more than twice as likely to abuse marijuana, and nearly three times as likely to use cocaine, as women who did not abort. In fact, there have been dozens of recent studies confirming the strong association between abortion and subsequent drug and alcohol abuse, which, in turn, are strongly correlated with depression.
In another study that accounted for prior mental health problems, post-abortive women were found to be much more likely to attempt suicide. Gissler et al. discovered that while the mean annual suicide rate among Finnish women was 11.3 per 100,000, the rates associated with women who obtained an abortion (34.7) were significantly higher than in the population.
What’s more, research indicates that minors who abort may be at even greater risk than the female population at large. A host of studies conducted over the past 10 years show girls who abort are at increased risk of substantial psychological reactions and even clinical depression. For example, a 2000 study by Reardon and Cougle found that long-term psychological effects were more common among women who had an abortion as an adolescent than among those who had carried an adolescent pregnancy to term.
Finally, in a study I conducted last year (which appears in the current issue of the Georgetown Public Policy Review), I compare the long-term psychological consequences of teenage abortion with those of teenage childbirth.
I found that while at first glance early experiences of abortion and childbirth were similar as regards to their effects on women’s long-term psychological health, when additional statistically significant variables were accounted for, such as pre-disposition to depression, physical health, and life satisfaction measures, early childbearing proved not to be a determinate of long-term depression. On the other hand, even after accounting for a wide-range of significant variables that affect depression, an early abortion experience was still associated with a higher level of adult depression symptoms.
What this means is that if a woman who gave birth as a teen was depressed years later, it was usually due to dire financial straits or relationship problems and not to the fact that she bore a child at an early age. Conversely, if a woman who aborted her first child as a teen was depressed years later, it was probably not due to financial difficulties, poor physical health or a negative sense of efficacy. Instead, her depression could be linked directly to the abortion experience itself.
Also, I found that on average, all else being equal, a woman who aborted at or before the age of 20 had a depression score 15 percent higher than a woman who did not become pregnant as a youth.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?