My abortion didn't make me crazy, Part II

Carla Axtman

About a year ago, I opined on this blog about my personal realization that the abortion that I had when I was 19 years old had no deleterious affect on my mental health. Despite being told for years through various outlets to the contrary, evidence presented in the New England Journal of Medicine made the case that in fact, a woman carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term was actually more in danger of mental health issues, often due to post partum depression.

This month, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has also weighed in on the matter:

On the basis of the best evidence available, the Steering Group concluded that:

  • Having an unwanted pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. However, the rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy are the same, whether they have an abortion or give birth.

  • The most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental health problems is having a history of mental health problems. In other words, women who have had mental health problems before the abortion are at greater risk of mental health problems after the abortion.

  • Some other factors may be associated with increased rates of post-abortion mental health problems, such as a woman having a negative attitude towards abortions in general, being under pressure from her partner to have an abortion, or experiencing other stressful life events.

This would seem to suggest that extra nasty and guilty shaming techniques perpetuated by anti-choicers may in fact contribute to the sorts of mental health problems that they've tried to foist on the abortion procedure itself.

One more time, with feeling: please keep your government and your religion out of my uterus.

(H/T: The Mental Elf)

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    Way to go. You aren't crazy. You just killed a baby.

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    Carla~I appreciate your honesty and I never thought we had anything in common until now and I understand completely. My abortion was forced by the Military and I sincerely appreciate people like you that just put in on the table for discussion and it isn't the silent word (((((Abortion))))))) but i feel that if more people were like you that we wouldn't have to really have a discussion anymore. So Thank you!!!

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      Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry that you were forced into an abortion--it should have been your decision, not theirs. That was utterly wrong.

      I think it's vital that these discussions are brought out into the open. It's time to break the stigma.

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    You might want to read PZ Myers' post on this topic:

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      Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      I'm not terribly surprised that the anti-choice research claiming that abortion causes mental health problems can't hold up to the most basic scientific scrutiny.

      This snippet sums it up nicely:

      "... The author of the paper, Priscilla Coleman, is an anti-abortion advocate, and 11 of the 22 studies sampled for the meta-analysis are by…Priscilla Coleman. Methinks there might be a hint of publication bias there, something that has been confirmed statistically by Ben Goldacre."

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    Carla, thank you for speaking out about your experience.

    A friend of mine co-founded an amazing organization called Exhale (, which is a great resource for people dealing with the range of emotions that come up around abortion. Exhale provides post-abortion services and education for women who have had an abortion and their loved ones, with a talkline and lots of online resources. Each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported, respected, and free from stigma.

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      This is amazing, Mara. Thank you for posting about this.

      It would have been really great if I would have known about an organization like Exhale when I had my abortion. For years, I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't feel guilt or shame. Just relief. It would have been wonderful to have a place like Exhale to meet others who shared my feelings. It's very lonely to believe that you're the only one who feels that way.

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        I'm still amazed that individual choice is even debated anymore. I donate yearly to an organization that provides $$$'s to economically challenged women who are seeking to make their personal choice. It is a woman's right to choose.

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