Studies – General Research

January/February 2006: Abortion Research

Abortion and Substance Abuse Link Often Overlooked (Women’s Health Review, 1/06)  New Zealand Study: Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health (JCPP, 1/06) Sleep Disorders Increase After Abortion (Sleep, 1/06) For more information on Abortion Research, click “Abortion” in the left menu, then “Published Abortion Studies”. ABORTION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE LINK OFTEN OVERLOOKED. A new research review published in Current Women’s Health Reviews highlights the growing body of evidence that abortion is linked with increased rates of substance abuse among women. Substance abuse has increased in the past three decades in the United States, but author Priscilla Coleman, a researcher and professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, notes that “awareness of female substance abuse as an emerging public health concern is of relatively recent origin.” According to the article, rates of alcohol dependence among women are now comparable to that of men, and “drug dependence has increased steadily among girls and women in recent years and for some drugs, the increases have exceeded the increases among boys and men.” Although smoking rates among both sexes have decreased, the decline in smoking rates among women tapered off in the 1990’s, while it increased among adolescent girls during that same period. Studies of substance abuse among women show that they are more inclined than men to begin abusing drugs, alcohol, and tobacco as a way of coping with traumatic life events, including physical or sexual abuse, illness, and family problems. Women who abuse substances are also less likely than men to seek treatment and more likely to be involved in an abusive relationship; to...

Abortion & Increased Risk of Child Abuse: Child Maltreatment and Perinatal Loss (AP, 2005)

Acta Pædiatrica, 2005; 94:Associations between voluntary and involuntary forms of perinatal loss and child maltreatment among low-income mothers AbstractAim: This study explored maternal history of perinatal loss relative to risk of child physical abuse and neglect. Methods: The 518 study participants included 118 abusive mothers, 119 neglecting mothers, and 281 mothers with no known history of child maltreatment… Interviews and observations were conducted in the participants’ homes, and comparisons were made between women without a history of perinatal loss and women with one and multiple losses relative to risk for child maltreatment. Results: Compared to women with no history of perinatal loss, those with one loss (voluntary or involuntary) had a 99% higher risk for child physical abuse, and women with multiple losses were 189% more likely to physically abuse their children. Compared to women with no history of induced abortion, those with one prior abortion had a 144% higher risk for child physical abuse. Finally, maternal history of multiple miscarriages and/or stillbirths compared to no history was associated with a 1237% increased risk of physical abuse and a 605% increased risk of neglect. Conclusion: Perinatal loss may be a marker for elevated risk of child physical abuse, and this information is potentially useful to child maltreatment prevention and intervention efforts.   BackgroundPregnancy loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, and induced abortion has been linked with pronounced psychological problems in at least 10–25% of women [1–3]. Among those negatively impacted by voluntary and involuntary forms of perinatal loss, many stress-related responses have been identified including grief reactions [4,5], anxiety [6,7], depression [8,9], sleep disturbances [10,11], post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms [12,13], and,...

Reproductive Health: Maternal Physical Complications of Abortion (Citings 1994)

This report was written in 1994; the published sources range from the 1970s to the 1990s. Like other pages presented in this section which contain older studies, it is presented primarily to show how much abortion research has been available – but ignored – for decades… The argument used by many abortion advocates of induced abortion – that abortion is safer than childbirth – is clearly erroneous is light of the medical evidence to the contrary. Adverse consequences from induced abortion include both physical and psychological complications, and frequently a woman will experience severe reactions in both areas. Some physical complications may arise immediately from the abortion procedure and include bleeding or hemorrhage;1 retention of fetal tissue;2 unrecognized ectopic pregnancy;3 laceration of the cervix;4 uterine, bowel, or bladder perforation;5 inflammation or infection of the reproductive organs (endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease) or pain, cramping, or menstrual disturbance.6 If a woman with a sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, obtains an induced abortion, the likelihood of pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) following the abortion greatly increases.7 Other later complications from induced abortion include sterility, 8 increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy,9 miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, difficulties in future labor and delivery and neonatal death. The risk of these complications increases with each subsequent abortion.10 Death of the mother is, obviously, the most serious of all physical complications. The risk of death is greater as the duration of pregnancy increases and the complexity of the abortion procedures expands.11 Various studies have also shown that women may abuse alcohol or drugs following abortion. Women who have had abortions frequently report their first...

Emotional Distress among Couples Involved in First-trimester Induced Abortion (CFP, 2000)

ABSTRACTEmotional distress among couples involved in first-trimester inducedabortionsPierre Lauzon, MD, Diane Roger-Achim, MD, André Achim, PHD RichardBoyer, PHD OBJECTIVE To establish the prevalence of clinically significant psychological distress in women and men involved in first-trimester abortions and to identify related risk factors. DESIGN Prospective cohort study. SETTING A downtown Montreal public abortion clinic and the Montreal metropolitan area. PARTICIPANTS We recruited 197 women and 113 men involved in first trimester abortions and compared them with control groups composed of 728 women and 630 men 15 to 35 years old who had taken part in a previous public health survey (Enquet Santé Québec 1987). One hundred twenty-seven women and 69 men completed the follow-up questionnaire. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Level of distress as measured by the Ilfeld Psychological Symptom index. RESULTS Before the abortion, 56.9% of women and 39.6% of men were much more distressed than their respective controls. Three weeks after the abortion, 41.7% of women and 30.9% of men were still highly distressed. Predictors of distress for women were fear of negative effects on the relationship, unsatisfactory relationships, relationships of less than 1 year, ambivalence about the decision to abortion, not having a previous child, suicidal ideation (this association was weaker than in controls). Predictors for men were fear of negative effects on the relationship, relationships of less than 1 year, preoccupation with the abortion and anxiety about its accompanying pain, negative perceptions of their own health, suicidal gestures in the past and suicidal ideation in the past year (only the association with suicidal gestures was marginally stronger than in controls). CONCLUSION Being involved in a first-trimester abortion can...

Mayo Clinic Questioned for Down-Playing the Abortion-Infertility Link

The Mayo Clinic has been criticized for telling patients that abortion does not cause infertility due to endometriosis, despite research showing the contrary. The information comes in response to a question from a patient submitted to the Q&A section of the Mayo Clinic web site. The questioner asked the Mayo Clinic whether any documented evidence existed between abortion and endometriosis. Responding for the clinic, an unnamed staff member said “there is no evidence of a link.” “Endometriosis is primarily a disease of women who have never been pregnant,” the Mayo Clinic writes. However, according to Deveber Institute in Canada, “No previous births and an earlier abortion put a woman at significant risk of post-abortion complications leading to possible infertility.” A 1986 report, “Post-Abortal Endometritis and Isolation of Chlamydia Trachomatis,” published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology says that not only is it possible to contract endometriosis from an abortion, but that the risk is higher for teenagers. The report says teenagers are 2.5 times more likely than women 20-29 to acquire endometriosis following abortion. Abortion businesses also acknowledge the risk that abortions can have in causing problems for women. In a factsheet “Abortion: Questions and Answers” prepared by the Planned Parenthood of Edmonton, Canada for prospective patients, the abortion business acknowledges the endometriosis risk. “Infections can occur from an abortion,” PPE writes. “At worst the infection can become a case of endometriosis (the pelvic area becomes inflamed) and the uterus has to be removed surgically.” [LifeNews.com, 9Sep05, Rochester, MN...

Induced Abortion and Increased Risk of Substance Abuse: A Review of the Evidence (CWHR, 2005)

Abstract: Research conducted over the last few decades has revealed an association between induced abortion history and substance abuse. The experience of induced abortion may be associated with psychological discomfort in some women and substance use offers a convenient remedy for alleviating the negative emotions without the necessity of disclosing the source of the discomfort. On the other hand, many characteristics related to the choice to abort are also systematically related to the likelihood of using substances (e.g., relationship difficulties, pre-existing emotional problems, a tendency to engage in risk-taking behavior, etc.) and the correlations observed in the literature may be due to the presence of uncontrolled third variables. Therefore, the general purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the available evidence linking induced abortion and substance abuse with sensitivity to the contextual complexity of both variables. Specific objectives include the following: 1) provision of an overview of substance use disorders in women, 2) review of evidencefor a causal model, highlighting methodological deficiencies in the published literature, 3) identification of processmechanisms (direct and indirect) through which induced abortion may enhance risk for substance abuse, 4) provision ofrecommendations for further research, and 5) consideration of practice implications of the available findings. Substance abuse has increased over the past 3 decades,becoming a particularly disturbing problem among American women in recent years [1,2]…more women are attending college, working full-time, often in fields previously dominated by men, caring for aging parents, and women have experienced more personal control over reproduction since legalization of induced abortion in 1973 [3-8]. These changes have obviously brought many expanded opportunities for women’s achievement relative to diverse roles while...

Review: Detrimental Effects of Adolescent (Teen) Abortion, Bibliography (PAR,2001)

This is a 2-part article on the effects of abortion on teens. [Extensive Bibliography] About 20% of all abortions taking place in the USA today are performed on teens (1). Teenage abortion has been linked to a number of physical & psychological problems, including drug and alcohol abuse (2), suicide attempts and suicidal ideation (3), & other self-destructive behaviors. Compared to women who abort at an older age, women who abort as teens are significantly more likely to report more severe emotional injuries related to their abortions (4). This finding is supported by the fact that women who aborted as teens participate in disproportionately large numbers in post-abortion counseling programs (5). In a study of post-abortive women in WEBA support groups, for example, more than 40% of the women had been teenagers at the time of their abortions (6). THE PSYCHOLOGICAL RISKS. Compared to women who have abortions in adulthood, teens who abort:— Are 2 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide. (7)— Are more likely to develop psychological problems. (8)— Are more likely to have troubled relationships. (9)— Are generally in need of more counseling and guidance regarding abortion. (10)— Are nearly 3 times more likely to be admitted to mental health hospitals than women in general. (11) Studies have shown that the major factors in pregnancy decision making among teens are the attitude of the teen’s parents, the baby’s father, and her peers; the personality of the teen herself; and the cultural and public policy attitudes toward abortion by which she is surrounded (12). Compared to older women, teens are more likely to abort because of pressure...

Drug Abuse After Abortion (AJDAA,6/2005)

Researchers note [American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 6/05] that among women who had unintended first pregnancies, those who had abortions were likely to report (4 years later) more frequent and more recent use of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Women who had never been pregnant or those with unintended pregnancies who delivered the babies, had notably lower frequencies of drug abuse. Reardon: “…that these new findings show that a history of unintended pregnancies alone is not linked to higher rates of substance use. The link only appears when the unintended pregnancy is aborted.”  [American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 6/05, David Reardon, Ph.D. et al; Rt to Life of Greater Cincinnati,...

Another Study Finds Higher Substance Use Rates Among Women After Abortion (BJHP,5/2005)

FINDINGS SHOW WOMEN WITH “UNWANTED” PREGNANCIES ARE NOT MORE LIKELY TO USE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL  British Journal of Health Psychology (2005), 10, 255–268 Substance Use Among Pregnant Women in the Context of Previous Reproductive Loss and Desire for Current Pregnancy Women with a history of induced abortion are three times more likely to use illegal drugs during a subsequent pregnancy…   The study supports a growing body of evidence which suggests that later pregnancies may arouse unresolved grief over prior abortions which women may seek to suppress by increased reliance on drugs and alcohol…At least 21 previous studies have linked abortion with increased rates of subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. Researchers [Bowling State Univ, Univ of Texas, and the Elliot Institute] examined data from a study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) & the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The data included 1,020 women who gave birth in one of 8 Washington, D.C.-area hospitals during 1992. Analyses of the data revealed that while women who had induced abortions were significantly more likely to engage in substance use during subsequent pregnancies, women who had experienced miscarriages or stillbirths were not. Previous studies have found that women with a history of abortion are subsequently at increased risk for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, suicidal tendencies and psychiatric hospitalization. At least 21 previous studies have linked abortion with increased rates of subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. “Most women have deeply conflicted feelings about their past abortions,” said Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, one of the authors of the new study. “Later pregnancies may arouse or aggravate unsettled emotions....

June 2005: Abortion Research

Drug Abuse After Abortion New Study Reveals Changing Abortion Demographics To view two 4-D ultrasound photos of a child in utero, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3846525.stm To view the last month Abortion Research items, click Current Headlines in the left menu bar, then click Abortion Research.    DRUG ABUSE AFTER ABORTION – researchers note [American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 6/05] that among women who had unintended first pregnancies, those who had abortions were likely to report (4 years later) more frequent and more recent use of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Women who had never been pregnant or those with unintended pregnancies who delivered the babies, had notably lower frequencies of drug abuse. Reardon: “…that these new findings show that a history of unintended pregnancies alone is not linked to higher rates of substance use. The link only appears when the unintended pregnancy is aborted.”  [American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 6/05, David Reardon, Ph.D. et al; Rt to Life of Greater Cincinnati, 5/05]   NEW STUDY REVEALS CHANGING ABORTION DEMOGRAPHICS – while abortion rates are declining, abortion is increasingly being used by older women, largely over age 25, rather than teens in “crisis” pregnancies. The data also indicate that the number of women having repeat abortions is increasing (some to 4 or more) and 60% of all abortions are to women who have previously had a live birth.   Dr. Janice Crouse [author, senior fellow, Beverly LaHaye Institute, think tank of Concerned Women for America] said the data shows abortion demographics are changing and that abortion is becoming a means of birth control for older women. This study shows “a staggering picture...

May 2005: Abortion Research

Women with Abortion History are at Increased Risk of Delivering Very Preterm Babies in Subsequent Pregnancies The Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion, Part 1 The Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion, Part 2   WOMEN WITH ABORTION HISTORY AT INCREASED RISK OF DELIVERING VERY PRETERM IN SUBSEQUENT PREGNANCIES– [study published in 4/05 issue, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Reuters Health] Dr. Caroline Moreau et al [Epidemiological Research Unit, Perinatal/Women’s Health, Hopital de Bicetre, France] examined records for 1,943 very preterm infants born before 33 weeks gestation, 276 moderately preterm infants born 33-34 weeks gestation, and 618 full-term infants born 39-40 weeks gestation. Dr. Caroline Moreau et al concluded that women with a history of abortion were 1.5 times more likely to give birth very prematurely (under 33 weeks gestation), and 1.7 times more likely to have a baby born extremely preterm (under 28 weeks gestation). Their findings were reported in the April issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a peer-reviewed medical journal. Women who reported having had at least one induced abortion had a 50% higher risk of having a very preterm delivery than women who had never had an abortion. In addition, women who reported having previous abortions had a 70% higher risk of delivering an infant before 28 weeks gestation, compared with women who had never had an abortion. Abortion increases a woman’s risk of delivering future children prematurely; the risk of very preterm delivery (less than 33 weeks) increases even more dramatically. The researchers said that previous abortion was associated with an increased risk of very preterm delivery because of premature rupture of the membranes, unexplained spontaneous...

Abortion & Substance Abuse (AJDA,6/04)

More than 20 medical studies have shown that women suffer from abortion, and the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse just published the latest study of post-abortive women. Women who aborted had rates of substance abuse that were approximately twice as high as those of women who chose to give birth to their babies. Science continues to provide evidence that abortion is extremely harmful to the mother as well as fatal to the unborn child. An increasing number of states are passing legislation that requires women be informed of the health risks they face when undergoing an abortion. To see an example of the measures states are passing, check out FRC’s State Model Legislation booklet below. [FRC, 24June04] [Resources: 2003 State Model Legislation: Policy that Strengthens the Family http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=BL03G01&f=WU04F18&t=e;  The Health Risks of Abortion...

New Research Would Allow States to Regulate or Ban First Trimester Abortions (7/04)

A recently published law review article suggests that a ban on abortion, even in the first trimester, may now be allowed under the legal standards established in the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v Wade decision. The team of authors, including medical researchers, physicians, and an attorney, argue that this shift in practice, arising from new medical evidence of abortion’s risks, will not require a change in constitutional law. The Supreme Court specifically grants that states have a “compelling interest” in regulating or banning abortion to protect women’s health when the risk of death associated with abortion exceeds the risk of death associated with childbirth. When Roe was decided in 1973, it was commonly believed that mortality rates associated with abortion in the first trimester were lower than the mortality rate associated with birth. States were therefore allowed to regulate abortion to protect women’s health only after the first trimester. In the last seven years, however, four major epidemiological studies have shown that abortion is actually associated with higher rates of death compared to childbirth. The most recent study of pregnancy-related deaths was published earlier this year in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. That study, linking birth, death, and abortion records for the entire country of Finland over a thirteen year period, found that women who had abortions were three times more likely to die than women who gave birth. Findings like these have completely reversed scientists’ conclusions regarding the relative risk of deaths associated with pregnancy outcome. According to the lead author of the law review article, David Reardon, Ph.D., director of the Elliot Institute, “Prior to...

Abortion or Birth of Unintended Pregnancy Affects Subsequent Substance Abuse (AJDAA,6/04)

A new study published in American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse strengthens the case for a causal connection between abortion and substance abuse. The study found that among women who had unintended first pregnancies, those who had abortions were more likely to report, an average of four years later, more frequent and recent use of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine… Researchers from the Elliot Institute and Bowling Green State Univ examined a nationally representative sample of women, including 749 women with unintended first pregnancies and 1,144 women who had not yet been pregnant. The effects of age, race, marital status, income, education, and psychological state prior to the pregnancies were statistically removed. [Data was drawn from the widely respected National Longitudinal Study of Youth, administered by the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State Univ.]  Women who had abortions had higher subsequent substance use rates than both women who had never been pregnant and women who carried their unintended pregnancies to term. Delivering women were not generally different from their never-pregnant peers, with the exception that they used alcohol less frequently. According to the study’s lead author, David Reardon, Ph.D., this latter finding suggests that giving birth, even to an unwanted child, may produce a protective effect arising from the mothers’ increased sense of responsibility to their babies.  The researchers report that the elevated rates of substance use among women who had abortions might be linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and unresolved grief which have been measured in other studies of women with a history of abortion. “It seems most likely that we are looking at...

The Added Toll of Bereavement (1/03)

A recent study showed that women who had abortions were at an increased risk of dying, especially in the first 2 years. This new study shows the powerful effect of the loss of a child. Although not directly touching on abortion, it would seem that this would be compounded in abortion since the mother herself participates in the loss of her child. N. Valko, R.N.    At Risk: The Added Toll of Bereavement The death of a child often shortens the life of the mother, a Dutch study has found. The study, which was released last week [1/03] by The Lancet, also found an increased risk of early death among fathers, but a far smaller one. The study compared mortality rates over 18 years among a group of 21,000 parents who had lost children below the age of 18 and 293,000 who had not. Researchers from the Danish Epidemiology Science Center found an increase in deaths during the first three years of bereavement, and that most of the increase came from causes other than illness, like suicide or a car crash. The risk was particularly acute among women whose children had died unexpectedly or from something other than illness. In the first three years after the child’s death, those mothers died at a rate almost four times as great as the mothers who had not lost a child. After 10 years, the effect on overall health began to show up, as deaths from natural causes among the bereaved mothers began to exceed those for mothers in the comparison group, the article said. [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/04/health/04RISK.htmlpagewanted=print&position=top, NYT: 4Feb03;...

Death Rate by Abortion Is 2.95 Higher Than Death Rate by Childbirth (AJOG,3/2004)

The Maternal Death Rate from Abortion is almost 3 times higher than the Death Rate from Childbirth, according to a 13-year population study of pregnancy-associated deaths [American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology]. The study found that the mortality rate associated with abortion is 2.95 times that of the mortality rate associated with pregnancies carried to term. Put another way: the maternal mortality rate associated with abortion is 195% higher than the maternal mortality rate associated with pregnancies carried to term. The study included the entire population of women 15-49 years of age in Finland, 1987-2000. The researchers linked birth and abortion records to death certificates. The annual death rate of women who had abortions in the previous year was 46% higher than that of non-pregnant women… Women who carried to term had a significantly lower death rate than non-pregnant women. Non-pregnant women had 57.0 deaths per 100,000, compared to 28.2 for women who carried to term, 51.9 for women who miscarried, and 83.1 for women who had abortions. The authors [lead Mika Gissler, Finland's National Research/Dev’t Centre for Welfare/Health] concluded: pregnancy contributes to a healthy effect on women. The study also revealed the difficulties involved in identifying direct & indirect effects of pregnancy on subsequent deaths. An examination of deaths from natural causes that were identified as "not pregnancy related" revealed that women who had abortions were significantly more likely (1.7 times) to die from natural causes that were not attributed to pregnancy on the death certificates. They were also 6.3 times more likely to die from violent causes. This is the second record-based study to be published in...

Children Of Post-Abortive Mothers Have More Behavioral Problems, Study Shows (JCPP,9/2002)

A study published in the  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that children whose mothers have a history of abortion tend to have less emotional support at home and more behavioral problems than children whose mothers have not had abortions. [click here for actual study] Researchers examined behavior and the quality of the home environment for 4,844 children. The study used data collected in 1992 by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a survey conducted by the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State University and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. “The results of our study showed that among first-born children, maternal history of abortion was associated with lower emotional support in the home among children ages one to four, and more behavioral problems among five- to nine-year-olds,” said Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University and the lead author of the study. “This held true even after controlling for maternal age, education, family income, the number of children in the home and maternal depression.” Coleman noted that although the results of the study were probably unprecedented, “they were not all that surprising when considered in light of previous research linking unresolved grief associated with other forms of perinatal loss, such as miscarriage and stillbirth, to compromised parenting.” Many women opt for abortion as the result of adverse circumstances or pressure from others, she said, making the decision difficult to cope with if the woman was emotionally attached to the fetus or desired to carry the pregnancy to term. “An abortion could become psychologically similar to other forms of pregnancy loss in...