The Implications of Unintended Pregnancies for Mental Health in Later Life

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Despite decades of research on unintended pregnancies, we know little about the health implications for the women who experience them. Moreover, no study has examined the implications for women whose pregnancies occurred before Roe v. Wade was decided-nor whether the mental health consequences of these unintended pregnancies continue into later life. Using the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a 60-year ongoing survey, we examined associations between unwanted and mistimed pregnancies and mental health in later life, controlling for factors such as early life socioeconomic conditions, adolescent IQ, and personality. We found that in this cohort of mostly married and White women, who completed their pregnancies before the legalization of abortion, unwanted pregnancies were strongly associated with poorer mental health outcomes in later life.

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