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Clin Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Sep;40(3):673-86.

Psychosocial aspects of induced abortion.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Substance Abuse Services, Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, USA.

Abstract

PIP:

US anti-abortion groups have used misinformation on the long-term psychological impact of induced abortion to advance their position. This article reviews the available research evidence on the definition, history, cultural context, and emotional and psychiatric sequelae of induced abortion. Notable has been a confusion of normative, transient reactions to unintended pregnancy and abortion (e.g., guilt, depression, anxiety) with serious mental disorders. Studies of the psychiatric aspects of abortion have been limited by methodological problems such as the impossibility of randomly assigning women to study and control groups, resistance to follow-up, and confounding variables. Among the factors that may impact on an unintended pregnancy and the decision to abort are ongoing or past psychiatric illness, poverty, social chaos, youth and immaturity, abandonment issues, ongoing domestic responsibilities, rape and incest, domestic violence, religion, and contraceptive failure. Among the risk factors for postabortion psychosocial difficulties are previous or concurrent psychiatric illness, coercion to abort, genetic or medical indications, lack of social supports, ambivalence, and increasing length of gestation. Overall, the literature indicates that serious psychiatric illness is at least 8 times more common among postpartum than among postabortion women. Abortion center staff should acknowledge that the termination of a pregnancy may be experienced as a loss even when it is a voluntary choice. Referrals should be offered to women who show great emotional distress, have had several previous abortions, or request psychiatric consultation.

PMID:
9328746
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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