According to a Washington Post article by Brenda Major, in the last few years a number of states passed laws mandating that women who want to get abortions be told that an abortion would expose them to mental health risks.
Major stated that studies in the U.S. have not substantiated the notion that abortion, in comparison with its alternatives, causes an increased rate of mental health problems. In 2008 the American Psychological Association task force, which she chaired, came to the same conclusion. In September, Oregon State University researchers stated that the results of a national study about teenagers who have abortions were the following: they were not likelier to become depressed one or five years later, compared to their peers who delivered.
Research by the Guttmacher Institute indicated that counseling on the negative effects of abortion is mandatory in Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Major believes that this is all part of a political strategy in order to stop women from having abortions and at making them difficult to obtain. She says it is a strategy that “distorts scientific principles.”
Major said that research shows that women who deliver babies are usually more likely to have planned their pregnancies and to be financially and emotionally equipped to become a mother. On the other hand, women who seek abortions are usually less likely to be married or to have an intimate relationship, are more likely to be poor, and more likely to have suffered some kind of abuse. Those latter mentioned qualities can lead to poor mental health. According to Major, “The most plausible explanation for the association that some studies find between abortion and mental health is that it reflects preexisting differences between women who continue a pregnancy and those who end one.”
Major pointed out that her research, which was based on clinic interviews in the 1990s with more than 400 women who had a first-trimester abortion, shows that women who terminated an unplanned pregnancy had a wide assortment of feelings that included sadness, relief and loss.