Women who undergo abortions suffer serious psychological problems more frequently than was previously thought, according to a new study.

Published yesterday in the Medical Science Monitor, the study surveyed 331 Russian women and 217 American women who had undergone one or more induced abortions, but who hadn’t experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Among the study’s major findings were:

  • Of American women, 53.9 percent felt badly after their abortion while only 13.8 percent felt relief.

  • Some 36.4 percent of the American women had suicidal thoughts and 26.7 percent increased their use of alcohol or drugs.

  • Only 10.8 percent of the American women surveyed said they received adequate counseling before the abortion. Fully 84 percent did not receive adequate counseling and 5.2 percent were unsure.

  • Over 42 percent of American women reported being sexually or physically abused before age 18 compared to only 11.4 percent of Russian women.

  • About 50 percent of all the women surveyed felt that their abortion had been morally wrong.

  • Some 79.2 percent of the American women had never been counseled on alternatives to abortion.

  • Over 54 percent of American women were not sure about their decision to abort their pregnancy.

“This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different countries,” said Dr. Vincent Rue, lead author of the study and co-director of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss. “It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions. These results will help mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological complications of abortion.”

David C. Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, was one of four authors of the study. The Elliot Institute has previously conducted numerous studies on the effects of abortion on women.

Increasing concerns over the psychological damage to women who have undergone an abortion prompted Rep. Joe Pitts, R.-Pa., to introduce the “Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act,” H. R. 4543, in June. The stated purpose of the proposed law is “to provide for research on, and services for individuals with, post-abortion depression and psychosis.” In pursuit of this goal, the bill proposes a congressional appropriation of “$300,000 for each of the fiscal years 2005 through 2009.”

Related stories:

Psychiatric problems linked to abortion

Research links abortion to depression

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.