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Abortion

NEW YORK, August 22 (Praxis Press). Studies have disagreed about the mental health risks associated with elective abortion, but few studies have followed women for long periods of time after abortion or have differentiated between negative emotions and clinically significant psychological distress. Major and colleagues prospectively evaluated emotions, attitudes, and mental health status in 442 women undergoing elective, first-trimester abortion. Two years after the abortion, the majority of wom

August 24, 2000

NEW YORK, August 22 (Praxis Press). Studies have disagreed about the mental health risks associated with elective abortion, but few studies have followed women for long periods of time after abortion or have differentiated between negative emotions and clinically significant psychological distress. Major and colleagues prospectively evaluated emotions, attitudes, and mental health status in 442 women undergoing elective, first-trimester abortion. Two years after the abortion, the majority of women were satisfied with their decision (72%), said they would definitely or probably make the same decision again (69%), and felt that the abortion had yielded more good than harm (72%). Eighty percent of women were not depressed at the 2-year time point, but 1% had symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Although depression present before the abortion lessened after the abortion, decision satisfaction and relief decreased and negative emotions increased over time. Women who had a history of depression before pregnancy were more likely to be depressed and to have lower self-esteem after the abortion. Women who were younger or who had more children at the time of the abortion were more likely to negatively evaluate the experience. In most women, elective abortion does not lead to psychological disorders, although sadness and regret tend to increase over time; women who have a history of depression are more likely to experience depression after an abortion.

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