Abortion Psychologically Damages Teen Girls? Not Really, Study Says

Filed under: News, In The News, Weird But True, Health & Safety: Teens, Development: Teens, Social & Emotional Growth: Teens, Activities: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens, New In Pop Culture

teen abortion

Guilt? Not here. Credit: Corbis

Do not get an abortion. Never mind all the moral and philosophical arguments. You will be wracked with guilt and depression.

Actually ... not so much.

Teenage girls aren't booking that particular guilt trip. A new study says girls who get abortions are no more likely to feel guilty or depressed than their peers who got pregnant and had their babies.

Stern warnings about dire psychological consequences have been part of the anti-abortion arsenal for almost 40 years, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the the right of privacy includes the right to have an abortion.

But researchers at Oregon State University and the University of California say abortion foes are peddling fear rather than facts.

The Times of India reports researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of 289 pregnant teens and followed the teens for five years after their pregnancies. The results were the same.

The girls who had abortions had no more problems with guilt, depression and self-esteem than their pregnant peers. The results of the study will appear in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

"We know most teen pregnancies are not wanted pregnancies and an unwanted pregnancy can be very stressful," lead author Jocelyn Warren of Oregon State tells the Times of India. "What we didn't know was whether psychological outcomes are worse for girls who choose abortion. This study says, 'No.' "

Warren adds that a 2008 report by the American Psychological Association found no evidence that abortion causes mental health problems in adult women. But no evidence was examined regarding teen girls.

It's important not to generalize, Warren tells the Times. Individual women may have very different emotional responses to abortion.

"But on average, abortion does not appear to have major psychological consequences -- for adult women or for teens," she says.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.