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PSYCH Paper 1 Sample

Abortion and Mental Health 1
Abortion and Mental Health
Your Name
San Jacinto College North Campus
March 31, 2019 (Due Date)
Abortion and Mental Health 2
Abortion has been a widely controversial topic and still is to this very day. In America,
many people, politicians, and representatives have very different views regarding the issue which
results in many debates. In some states, legislature has been passed in order to put restrictions
and limitations on abortions, and women's healthcare. Often times, supporters of abortion argue
that by being able to have the choice to have an abortion, it allows women to avoid the physical
toll a pregnancy can have on a woman such as not being fit to carry on the pregnancy resulting in
miscarriages or putting the mother’s life in danger when giving birth. Some also argue that
abortion has its complications which can result in serious health risks such as infections,
lacerations, as well as physiological effects due to abortion being viewed as not morally correct.
While these may be some of the concerns being debated, we must also question and consider
how abortion affects women not only physically, but emotionally as well. (Abortion Risks and
Complications, downloaded 03/18/19)
In order to determine if there were any links to pregnancy outcomes and women’s mental
health, a research study was done through the gathering and analyzing of data collected from
women’s history of pregnancies and mental health. Researchers then examined the data collected
to see if there were any links between abortions and an increase, or decrease, in the risks of mental
health problems which included depression, alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety, and more. The
research was conducted by David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden who
studied and gathered data from the Christchurch Health and Development study and analyzed the
pregnancies and mental health history of 532 women, but since not all women were assessed on
all occasions, the sample size is between 524 to 507. (Fergusson, Horwood, & Boden, 2008)
The researchers studied the women since birth and throughout different intervals for 30
years. The intervals included the CHDS studies done at birth, 4 months, 1 year, and annual intervals
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until they were 16, then at ages 18, 21, 25, and 30. The researchers assessed different areas of their
life at different time frames such as assessing pregnancies and abortions, as well as mental health
throughout 15 to 30 years. The women were questioned about pregnancies throughout the intervals
between 15 to 30 years and the outcomes of those pregnancies as well as their reactions and
feelings regarding those pregnancies. The participants were also questioned on their initial reaction
on the pregnancies, and if they were wanted or unwanted, their reactions would be coded on a 5point scale ranging from very happy to distressed. (Tolin et al, 2008)
When assessing the participants’ mental health, the researchers questioned them using
questionnaires based on the Diagnostic Interval Schedule for Children at 16 and the Composite
International Diagnostic Interview at ages 18 through 30. Through this they were able to retain the
number of women who met the criteria for mental disorders which included major depression,
severe anxiety, alcohol and drug dependence, and more. As for other factors that could affect a
woman’s mental health, the researchers also questioned the participants about their parents’
education, the environment they were brought up in, economic stability, and lifestyle. (Tolin et al,
Through the analyzing of the data gathered throughout the study, researchers found out that
there was a link between abortion and a small increase in the risk of mental disorders. Researchers
stated that “...women who had had abortions had rates of mental disorder that were about 30%
higher.” (Tolin et al. 2008) Through the study, it was also estimated that exposure to abortion had
accounted for up to 5.5% of the overall rate of mental health issues. (Tolin et al, 2008)
While there may be a lot of factors affecting a person’s mental health and can be quite
complicated to analyze those factors, I feel like this study accurately attempts to analyze the data
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gathered and yields credible results through the use of sophisticated diagnostics, as well as their in
depth research on the participants.
I feel that the results of this study are important because it demonstrates that, through the
use of scientific data and research, abortion does have a small positive correlation linking it with
higher rates of mental disorders. People are now able to know the truth of how abortion affects a
woman’s mental health along with the data to back up and support the claim that abortion does
show a consistent increase in the rate of mental disorders related to the exposure of abortion.
Hopefully this research allows for better help for women who have had an abortion and brings
more awareness to their mental well-being.
Before my research, I figured that abortion affected women in different ways, whether it
be physically and/or mentally. I now know to what extent abortion affects women’s mental health,
as well as the many different types of mental issues that can result due to the emotional stress of
having an abortion. This will help me be more understanding about the situations women face
during pregnancies, more specifically, when dealing with abortion.
Abortion and Mental Health 5
Abortion Risks and Complications. Elliot Institute. Retrieved March 18, 2019, from
Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Boden, J. M. (2008). Abortion and mental health disorders:
Evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 193(06), 444451. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.056499