Parliament in UK Holds Colloquium on Psychological Effects of Abortion
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A recent meeting in the UK parliament heard evidence that post-abortive women have higher risks of mental health problems than women who choose to give birth. Professor Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green University, Ohio, presented her research at a parliamentary meeting entitled “Colloquium on the Psychological Effects of Abortion” on March 6, 2012. Dr. Coleman’s study, “Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research”, is the largest meta-analysis on the mental health effects of abortion to date. The research analyzed 22 peer-reviewed articles on the effects of abortion and found that, “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.” Dr. Coleman pointed to the evidence as information that ought to be included in abortion services. “The denial of the psychological impact of abortion leads to misinformed professionals and leaves millions of women worldwide struggling alone to cope with the aftermath of past abortions,” she said.

Dr. Coleman’s research, published in the September 2011 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, was largely ignored by the media until recently, when journalists attacked her study for an error. Dr. Coleman plainly clarified the mistake- a minor error in one of the 22 papers analyzed- that has since been addressed and corrected. The fact that the media highlighted this small error, rather than the findings of a large scale analysis is further evidence of the media bias against the link between abortion and mental health. “The victims of this irresponsible journalism are the millions of women, who have not easily moved beyond an abortion, suffered psychologically, and found very little assistance from the medical and psychological community,” said Dr. Coleman.

Professor Patricia Casey of University College Dublin also spoke at the UK parliament meeting, sharing her experiences with post-abortion patients from her practice of psychiatry. She said women seeking abortions were given very limited counseling, at times merely being asked “do you want an abortion?”, and were rarely asked about their mental health history. Professor Casey emphasized the need for proper counseling, pointing to the psychologically complex nature of abortion.