Induced abortion and adolescent mental health

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Induced abortion is widely believed – by the public, healthcare professionals, and policy-makers – to lead to adverse mental health sequelae. This belief is false, as it applies both to adult women and adolescents. However, it has been used to rationalize, and been quoted in, restrictive and intrusive legislation in several states and in proposed federal legislation. It is essential for gynecologists to have accurate information, as clinicians, for their patients, and, as key experts, for policy makers.

Recent findings

New articles concluding that there are adverse psychological outcomes from induced abortion continue to be published. The methodological flaws in these articles are so serious as to invalidate those conclusions. Several recent scholarly analyses detail these flaws. Methodologically sound studies and reviews continue to demonstrate that psychosocial problems play a role in unwanted conception and the decision to abort unwanted pregnancies but are not the result of abortion.

Summary

Clinicians may have to reassure patients making decisions about their pregnancies that abortion does not cause psychiatric illness. They can do so on the basis of recent analyses substantiating that finding.

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