“New study finds abortion DOES NOT cause mental health problems among adolescents.” The first thing I want to say is, I love you Guttmacher Institute. Thank you for providing comprehensive and factual information about abortion.
A summary of the report that was published last week on the Guttmacher website stated that teens who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion. This information comes from a piece written by Jocelyn T. Warren of Oregon State University called, “Do Depression and Low Self-Esteem Follow Abortion Among Adolescents? Evidence from a National Study”. The article will appear in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and is currently available online.
I am ecstatic to read another study that confirms my beliefs and inherently helps the pro-choice movement, but I know that the antis will continue to lie and disseminate false information. I know that crisis pregnancy centers will still attempt to coerce young women who walk in the door to “choose life” by telling them that abortion causes breast cancer (another statement that is completely false). But I am not going to talk about the antis and their lies. I’m going to focus on the positive: this information supports pro-choice beliefs.
The authors of the study states that “laws mandating that women considering abortion be advised of its psychological risks may jeopardize women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining women’s right to informed consent.” As a social worker, I love informed consent. It is a wonderful thing. Clients must have the right to make their own decision based on facts not opinions of the practitioner. The required counseling and mandatory waiting periods that many states have cause anxiety and other negative effects for women who are seeking abortions. These hoops in place that women have to jump through make it impossible for them to make an informed decision because they are bombarded with (sometimes) false information and are forced to wait long periods of time between counseling and the actual abortion procedure.
Below is a summary of the current laws in place regarding counseling and waiting periods for abortion:
• 34 states that require women receive counseling before an abortion is preformed.
• 24 of those 34 states state what information must be given.
• 7 of those states specifically require that women be warned of possible negative psychological consequences resulting from the procedure.
• 10 states have abortion specific requirements, generally following the established principles of informed consent.
• 25 of the initial 34 require women to wait a specific amount of time (often 24 hours) between counseling and the abortion procedure.
• 7 states require that all counseling be provided in person and before the waiting period begins (which means 2 separate trips to the facility).
These are strict laws that are in place as roadblocks to make access to abortion nearly impossible. It is unfortunate that these laws are in place even with the facts that are uncovered by studies like this one. I say, keep researching. Keep doing these studies and writing articles with wonderful discussion about the findings. The pro-choice movement needs more studies like this one so we can continue to stock pile facts that prove what we believe is the right thing. Even though this new information might sit on the pile like a lot of other information that supports the pro-choice movement, it is still valuable. I believe one day that it will used to change laws and finally get people to wake up and accept that pro-choice is justice for all.