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Do Teenage Abortions Cause Depression?

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There is a New York City subway ad that has always caught my eye. Plastered to the inside of the trains is a poster depicting a disheveled, lonely-appearing teenage girl. She’s crouched over grabbing her knees, her face pensive. The dialogue below reads something like, “FREE ABORTION ALTERNATIVES,” as if every pregnant teenager has no choice but to have an abortion. The irony of the ad, which is paid for by an anti-choice organization obviously, is that they are, after all, advocating choice: You have a choice. You don’t have to get an abortion.

What’s more obvious however, is that this subway girl is suffering. You can see it in her face. Her distressed eyes warn of a widely feared side effect to abortion: regret, or more academically, post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome. This is the message you’re meant to take away after your 10-minute ride with her--abortion, like war, will psychologically screw you up for the rest of your life. With absolutely no scientific evidence to the contrary, at least in teenagers, no one can argue with this--until now.

This week, researchers at Oregon State University and the University of California, San Francisco (a powerhouse of family planning research), announced the connection between teenage abortions and depression or low self-esteem is completely ungrounded.

The study, which looked at over 300 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, found there was no difference in psychological outcomes between pregnant teenagers who chose to terminate and those who chose to continue their pregnancies. The data remained consistent immediately following, one year after, and five years post-abortion.

According to the authors, the study’s findings have several public health and health policy applications, not least of which is influencing law makers to make informed, scientifically backed decisions regarding women’s reproductive rights.

For example, several U.S. states currently require health care providers to inform women wishing to terminate about the negative mental health impacts of abortion. (Now it’s clear where post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome gets some of its publicity.) This is despite appeals from the American Psychiatric Association, who stands by their guns, denying that such a diagnosis even exists.

"I cannot think of any other type of health practice where a doctor is forced by law to tell a patient about negative consequences that have not been proven or validated," said the study’s co-author, Marie Harvey, in the press release.

This study is hoping to change that. It’s the first of its kind to show that teenagers, although generally less experienced in other realms of life, can handle stress surrounding abortion just the same as stress surrounding a non-terminated pregnancy.

For more information on all pregnancy options and support throughout pregnancy, adoption or abortion, please visit: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

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EmpowHER Guest

Well, I don't think that any guilt that a pregnant woman feels after an abortion can match the life of pain and suffering that an unwanted child will come to know. My mother had me in highschool and was totally unprepared for me and my father he married her for a short time but found another woman shortly there after. I had a step father who abused the heck out of me and my mother was to dependant on him financially since she had a few kids with him to give a darn about what was happening to me. I think the decision to have and keep me was selfish and thoughtless. I have asked my mother why she didn't opt for an abortion and she says because it wasn't safe and it was illegal in those days. I can't even fathom the lack of remorse she shows for the life I have known. I wouldn't put my worst enemy through what I have seen or known of this world let alone a child. So if you are out there contimplating an abortion go get it.

Raising children without resources is impossible and you wouldn't want to inflict that kind of pain on the innocent. Children do not ask to be born, selfish people have them for their own glorification. If you are to far along by all means consider adoption. I am 43 now, so I am not speaking to you from a young persons perspective, and have pretty much had this same attitude since I was in second or third grade. I told my mother that I would not have children when I was eight and I do not regret the decision, coming from my backround, I realize my capacity to love another is skewed and I wouldn't bring another into this world without being able to guarentee them a bountiful existence.

October 25, 2010 - 8:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

Try a longer study. And further research. There are plenty of women who suffer from depression or commit suicide after an abortion. Not all, but definitely some. They suffer from a commonly known and reasonable reaction called guilt. Your denial that it's "just not going to happen at all" is not benefiting women at all. Women should be aware of the dangers before they decide to go through with something like this. I know several women who suffer severely from past abortions. I know another who tried for years to get pregnant and couldn't because of the damage that abortions have done to her. I know another woman who, after her abortion, was taken to the room to recover with several other women and all they did was weep. Your cold, calculating approach is not on par with everyone.

October 13, 2010 - 11:12pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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