Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s risk for depression, according to a new study of nearly 400,000 women published today in JAMA Psychiatry. While previous research has found abortion does not harm women’s mental health, studies claiming that it does continue to be published and state policies that restrict access to abortion in the United States have been justified by claims that abortion causes women psychological harm.
To better understand the relationship between having an abortion and women’s mental health, Dr. Julia R. Steinberg, from the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data on Danish women born between 1980-1994. The information included abortions, childbirths and antidepressant prescriptions as recorded by the Danish National Registries. It is the first study to explore the risk of antidepressant use around an abortion as a proxy for depression.