Abortion and Mental Health (updated January 2011)

The time is now. Will you stand up for reproductive health and rights?

First published online:

For two decades, the highest-quality scientific evidence available has led to the conclusion that abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.

• This was the bottom-line conclusion of two major, comprehensive reviews conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA).

• Women report feeling a range of emotions after having an abortion. While relief is the most common reported emotion, some women also experience feelings of sadness or guilt. A woman’s mental health before she faces an unwanted pregnancy is the best indicator as to her likely mental health after an abortion.

• Not all studies on the mental health impact of abortion are created equal; in fact, according to the APA, methodological flaws are “pervasive in the literature on abortion and mental health.” Antiabortion activists often attempt to capitalize on the fact that the public and many policymakers cannot distinguish between studies that allow legitimate conclusions to be drawn about the effects of abortion and those that show only associations between abortion and mental health outcomes.