Having an abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems, but having a baby does, suggests one of the largest studies to compare the aftermath of both decisions. The research by Danish scientists further debunks the notion that terminating a pregnancy can trigger mental illness and shows postpartum depression to be much more of a factor. Results were published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
"A woman should know that her risk of having a psychiatric episode is not increased" after an abortion, said Trine Munk-Olsen of Aarhus University, who led the study. It included 365,550 teenagers and women who had an abortion or first-time delivery between 1995 and 2007. Through various national registries, researchers were able to track mental health counseling at a hospital or outpatient facility before and after an abortion or delivery. The study was funded by grants from the Danish Medical Research Council and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which supports abortion rights organizations and projects. (Read more abortion stories.)