Risk assessment choice.

A study conducted in New Zealand and published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines has findings suggesting that abortion in young women may be associated with increased risks of mental health problems.

Does this mean that young women should not have access to abortions – no, these findings should inform choice and clinical practice not dictate it.

"No-one’s denying the fact that there will be psychological problems in some women after this procedure (abortion) in the same way as there are after a hysterectomy. But we also know that having an unwanted pregnancy to term or having to give a child up for adoption because you can’t manage also is related to mental health problems."

"There’s lots of complex reasons why people might feel distressed and disturbed after abortions.  Most of the research shows that transient and short-lived feelings of anxiety or depression are probably quite common." – Director NSW Institute of Psychiatry, Dr. Louise Newman.

Consider mental health incidence figures for continuing with a pregnancy.

"The incidence of depression in women postpartum is similar to depression in women generally. However, the incidence of depression in the first month after childbirth is three times the average monthly incidence in non-childbearing women. Studies across different cultures have shown consistent incidence of postnatal depression (10 to 15 percent), with higher rates in teenage mothers. A meta-analysis of studies, mainly based in developed countries, found the incidence of postnatal depression to be 12 to 13 percent.

Four systematic reviews have identified the following risk factors for postnatal depression:

  1. Past history of psychopathology, including postnatal depression;
  2. Low social support;
  3. Poor marital relationships;
  4. Recent life events.

Recent studies from India and China also suggest that spousal disappointment with the sex of the newborn child, particularly if the child is a girl, is associated with postnatal depression. The mother’s reaction to the sex of the baby also may be a risk factor within some cultural groups."

Just as a woman can choose pregnancy to birth (advised of known risks) so a woman can choose pregnancy to end (advised of known risks).

Update: A succinct piece by Julia Baird.

creating a balanced choice

Image from here

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13 Responses to “Risk assessment choice.”

  1. David Collett Says:

    There are never simple answers and never simple solutions. Only choices, effects, consequences, risks. And we try to balance on them and make our way through them like the woman on her unicycle.

    A good post and a good picture for it.

  2. Brownie Says:

    Posted on that at our group blog Jan 2nd.
    (I know a Dr of Psychology who works in NZ and she is nuts and her children are going to need psychiatric therapy, but that’s another topic.)

    A good post, a good illustration, and a good comment from Collett – I always wish I could be similarly succinct.

  3. David Collett Says:

    Thanks. 🙂

  4. j Says:

    Of course people are going to suffer from sadness during, and after, such a procedure – it shows that people take such a decision seriously. It will be a strange contradictory argument should anti-choicers start citing this research in favor of banning abortion, as the results really counter their constant insinuations that women seeking abortion are thoughtless, heartless sluts.

    Come to think of it I’m sure there are high rates of depression in the lives of people who have made other difficult choices – say the decision to end a relationship or turn off a family member’s life support. But that depression does not mean that the choice should be removed, nor that it was a wrong one.

  5. Le Driver Says:

    Though it would also be interesting to see the mental health risks which women who keep unwanted babies are prey to.

  6. Suki Says:

    Thanks for reminding me of womens forum australia. You do a sharp and passionate post as usual.

  7. Suki Says:

    […] counter their constant insinuations that women seeking abortion are thoughtless, heartless sluts.
    -or (as is often levelled at me) barren, old unfuckables.

    Le Driver,
    Women who keep unwanted babies would be hard to study as unwanted babies would most likely fail to thrive and would soon become the interest of a government entity. Moreover, I don’t believe our society can readily accept women who have babies and then not want them – and would sadly be even less interested in their mental health or well being.

    I wonder if the NZ research asked if contraception was available to the young women or their partners. Or as Dr. Newman poses – Was the pregancy the result of sexual assault?
    The paper costs $36.59 (plus tax) or I’d read it.

  8. jennifer Says:

    What is the risk of psychiatric depression for being forced to carry a foetus to term, which one never wanted and can’t support?

  9. Suki Says:

    Good point jennifer.
    Not just to the woman, but also her other children (if she had any) – how would a depressed mother impact on them? What then of the couple relationship (if there is one) – what would the stress on the adults be like to share the care and support of an unwanted child?

  10. jennifer Says:

    I think that my father was just such an “unwanted child”. He grew up with a surly foster father after his dad was killed in world war 2 (I imagine his mother had to hastily remarry in a country with no social security support and she was pregnant). I think there was resentment on his part, at having to bring up another man’s child.

    My father is a strange character, to say the least, subject to bouts of temper and unable to communicate with women whilst respecting them as fully grown adults. One senses that he has a lot of childhood issues, still unsettled, which prevent him from viewing women as anything other than terrifying manifestations of his perhaps neglectful or abandoning mother.

    Can anyone spell borderline personality disorder?

  11. Brownie Says:

    Borderline? Hell no, my mother was right over her border.
    I was not planned or wanted and have no siblings.
    From my adult brain looking back, I can see my mother’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder was undiagnosed.
    When only days old she attempted to drown me in the toilet and my grandmother took me away and did not give me back until I was school age.
    I believe passionately that only nurturing couples should be allowed to have a child. I also believe that the family should never have told me about the toilet incident!

  12. jennifer Says:

    Brownie: Although, on a slightly positive side, you’re probably glad you are here — yes? no?

    The problem is that this government, with its sick mindset, is also ripping into social security options, into various support systems for insane or desperate parents, and anything at all which would make difficult circumstances possible to manage.

    They are going to reap a generation of disturbed maladjusted folk as the Australian NORM.

  13. Suki Says:

    Brownie I have to agree.
    I subscribe to the gift of omission ethos.
    Unless someone has a direct benefit in knowing something (it’s positive or life affirming) or they insist on the truth then I don’t offer.
    Others can freely tell and that’s their choice, but it won’t be me.

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