Women experience mental distress over abortions for years to come

Researchers say that women who have an abortion can suffer mental distress, anxiety, guilt and shame for years afterwards.

In a study in Norway a group of 40 women who suffered a miscarriage were compared with 80 women who chose to have an abortion. They were questioned ten days, six months, two years and five years after the event.

The team found that women who had a miscarriage suffered more mental distress up to six months after losing their baby compared with those who had an abortion.

But the women who had an abortion experienced more mental distress long afterwards, at two and five years compared with the miscarriage group.

The researchers, from the University of Oslo, say the study demonstrates that both sets of women should be given information about the psychological effects of losing a baby, either through miscarriage or abortion.

Pro-life campaigners said the research has confirmed that the emotional consequences of having an abortion may be enormous.

Experts in the health of women also highlight the importance of having proper counseling in place to deal with women having abortions.

The study used tests to measure the extent of intrusive thoughts, feelings and flashbacks about the end of pregnancy, and the researchers also assessed how much women avoided thinking, talking or feeling anything about the event.

They found that found that, after 10 days, 47.5% of women who had miscarried suffered from some degree of mental distress compared with 30% of the abortion group.

The proportion of women who had a miscarriage suffering distress decreased during the study period, to 22.5% at six months and to just 2.6% at two years and five years.

The study is published in the journal BMC Medicine.

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