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As Ireland Considers Repeal of Abortion Ban: Consider Women’s Health

One of the main talking points conservatives and liberals have been fighting over for years, if not decades, is how abortion affects women’s health. For all its controversy, both sides essentially agree abortion ends the life of a baby--or a “fetus” as the left likes to say--but what about mom?

A 2011 study shows something that conservatives have argued for decades: Abortion is “tied to a sharp decline in women’s mental health.” This completely undermines one of the left’s main talking points, which is that abortion hardly affects the mother's health at all and thus it’s the lesser of two evils. Both women in the U.S. and Irish citizens, specifically as they vote on the referendum to repeal their 35-year-old abortion ban, would do well to remember this when advocating abortion solely for “women's rights” as a woman’s choice.

Study links abortion and psychological problems

For decades, conservatives have argued abortion doesn’t just hurt babies but women too--but to be honest, that was hard to prove. While some studies indicated it would cause depression or increase anxiety, until recently it was difficult to link abortion with mental damage. About a decade ago, the American Psychiatric Association tried to look at the link between abortion and mental health and although it was obvious women experience grief, depression, and anxiety following an abortion, they couldn’t find a direct link. Dr. Brenda Major, the chair of that task force, said in a written statement in 2008, "The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion or deliver that pregnancy."

However, this study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, and a few others published in the last twelve months debunk that myth. This particular body of research is quite provocative because the authors analyzed such a large amount of data--877,000 women, including 164,000 who had an abortion--and found women who had an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk for mental problems. The authors observed the "results indicate quite consistently that abortion is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems subsequent to the procedure.”

CBS reported, “Women who had an abortion were 34 percent more likely to develop an anxiety disorder, 37 percent more likely to experience depression, 110 percent more likely to abuse alcohol, 155 percent more likely to commit suicide, and 220 percent more likely to use marijuana.”

Study contradicts status quo abortion messaging

This data, which confirms what conservatives have long-argued and what liberals have repeatedly denied, also directly contradicts the message of standard abortion propaganda, both here (#ShoutYourAbortion, anyone?) and abroad (“Repeal the 8th,” the tagline for Ireland’s referendum to repeal their abortion ban). Signs plastered all over the Republic of Ireland right now are enveloped in a pink heart and look happy, if not romantic and sweet. The message is the polar opposite of suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety and drug abuse, indicating either blatant dishonesty or ignorance.