July 6, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new review of studies examining various types of prenatal loss and the effects on subsequent parenting has concluded that abortion may be "particularly damaging to the parenting process."
The article, published in Current Women's Health Reviews, looks at already published studies on miscarriage, induced abortion and adoption. The author, Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, focuses on psychological reactions to these various types of loss and discusses how they might affect a mother's relationship with children born after the pregnancy loss.
It is now known that women usually begin feeling maternal attachment in the early stages of pregnancy. The paper notes that despite the increased responsibilities and stress involved in raising children, "numerous studies have documented positive psychological characteristics associated with motherhood including increases in life satisfaction, self-esteem, empathy, restraint, flexibility and resourcefulness in coping, and assertiveness." Losing a child before or at birth, for any reason, however, "can be a profound source of suffering."
While all forms of pregnancy loss can cause emotional distress that can impact future parenting, the available research indicates that emotional responses after induced abortion are more likely to go unresolved and to persist for a longer time period.
Coleman writes that "society understands that women who miscarry or relinquish a child through adoption may experience sadness and grief." However, she continues, grief after abortion is "socially sanctioned because abortion is not acknowledged by our culture as a human death experience." Consequently help to deal with the experience is usually not offered.
"In many cases, women may suppress thoughts and emotions related to an abortion, because they have not been able to process and or/openly express negative emotions," Coleman writes, adding that the lack of acknowledgement and support after abortion gives the "covert message that others would rather not hear what we have to say, and this makes it difficult to even identify our reactions to our losses."
Finding help and support after abortion is further hampered by the belief that, unlike other forms of pregnancy loss, abortion is optional and therefore women experience less distress afterwards. However, having an abortion is "sometimes quite inconsistent with the woman's true desires," says Coleman, (one survey found that 64 percent of American women who had abortions reported feeling pressured to abort), and many women, especially those who feel conflicted or didn't want the abortion, do feel emotional distress afterwards.
"The best evidence regarding negative effects of abortion indicates that 20-30 percent will experience serious psychological problems," Coleman says. "With 1.3 million U.S. abortions performed annually, a minimum of 130,000 new cases of abortion-related mental health problems appear each year."
While abortion advocates frequently argue that abortion is better than carrying an unplanned pregnancy to term, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Studies of women with unplanned pregnancies found that women who aborted had higher risks of depression, substance abuse and anxiety, and teens who aborted an unintended pregnancy were more likely to experience negative mental health outcomes than their peers who carried to term. Further, a recent New Zealand study led by a pro-choice researcher found no evidence that abortion provided any mental health benefits to women even in cases of unplanned pregnancy.
The paper describes a number of ways that a previous abortion can affect a woman's relationship with her living children:
- Increased depression and anxiety. Abortion has been linked to higher rates of maternal depression and anxiety before and after birth, which may affect the woman's relationship with her children. In addition, depression is a common predictor for child abuse.
- Sleep disorders and disturbances. Women who have had an abortion are more likely to experience sleep disorders compared to women who carry to term, and one survey found that many women attributed the sleep disorders to a past abortion. These sleep disturbances "could render the high energy demands of parenting more complicated," says Coleman.
- Substance abuse. Studies have found that women who had an abortion were more likely to engage in substance abuse, and also more likely to smoke or use drugs or alcohol while pregnant. Mothers who abuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to "engage in authoritarian and punitive parenting practices," and parental substance abuse increases the risk that the children will suffer abuse or neglect.
- Child abuse. Abortion has been associated with lower emotional support for one's children and with a higher risk of child abuse and neglect.
Abortion has also been linked to higher rates of suicide and to a wide range of mental health disorders. Coleman was also the lead author of a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, which found that the children of women who had abortions have less supportive home environments and more behavioral problems than children of women without a history of abortion.
While the review by Coleman notes that not every woman may experience psychological problems after abortion that will carry over into her personal relationships, "some women will have carryover effects into the parenting realm." The paper points to a need for better screening and awareness of possible psychological problems after miscarriage, adoption and abortion, and for more research to examine the effects of abortion.
I bet you're thinking this woman has not done her homework. She's not read Rickarby or other studies on the lifelong effects of adoption loss....or is intentionally ignoring those facts to prove her own pro-life position. Simple common sense tells you that whatever attachment is formed during the first trimester is multiplied by three if one carrie a child to term, and then is greatly increased by going through labor and delivery...not to mention knowing that a real, live human being is "out there" somewhere - or you can see, but not parent. Mothers who have experienced both an abortion - or miscarriage - and a loss to adoption report that the adoption is the more painful of the two.
Well, you're not alone:
Priscilla K. Coleman is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Coleman has published numerous studies in peer-reviewed journals regarding abortion and mental health.
The conclusions of Coleman and her co-authors have been criticized by the American Psychological Association (APA) A panel convened by the APA has written that the studies by Coleman, and her co-authors have "inadequate or inappropriate" controls and don't adequately control "for women's mental health prior to the pregnancy and abortion." 
Research associates of Coleman's have also been criticized. In an unpublished letter to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, on file with PublicEye.org, Jillian Henderson and Katharine Miller state:
"We believe that Cougle, et al., operate with strong political views regarding abortion, and unfortunately their biases appear to have resulted in serious methodological flaws in the analysis published in your journal.... All are involved in building a literature to be used in efforts to restrict access to abortion." 
1. ^ BGSU.edu
2. ^ "Is there a Post Abortion Syndrome"? The New York Times
3. ^ a b c NOW with David Brancaccio PBS
This article may contain inappropriate or misinterpreted citations that do not verify the text. Please help improve this article by checking for inaccuracies. (help, talk, get involved!) (May 2009)
HINOJOSA: In emails, two prominent independent scientists, on a panel that is reviewing the scientific literature for the American Psychological Association told us the studies have "inadequate or inappropriate" controls and don't adequately control "for women's mental health prior to the pregnancy and abortion."
4. ^ Correspondence between Jillian Henderson and Katharine Miller and journal editors Michel Hersen and Cynthia Last, January 13, 2004 on file at PRA.
And...for another bad comparison of abortion and adoption..."Is Adoption Reform Common Ground on Abortion?"
Missing the Most Loving Option
Pitting adoption and abortion against one another or even in the same sentence is wrong for several reasons.
Adoption cannot - or at least should not - be considered until there is a fully independent human being living to consider placing for adoption. Adoption/abortion dichotomies such as this rely on a totally false and unsubstantiated assumption that women who lose children to adoption -- voluntarily or involuntarily - are more apt to consider abortion than those who don't.
This is offensive to mothers who have made what many pro-lifers like to call a "loving sacrifice." It is also thoughtlessly offensive and hurtful to adoptees of all ages, who are made to feel "grateful" that they weren't adopted and need not be any more than any other person. As the trailer for the movie "My Sister's Keeper" states: MOST babies are accidents. Your argument omits the two most important aspects of this debate: First, increased sex education and access to birth control to reduce teen pregnancies which is done quite successfully in western Europe.
Secondly, the most loving, most caring, most difficult option of all: mothering. A moral society supports this decsion over all others and provide resources to encourage family preservation as the option of choice. Expectant mothers in temporary crisis or struggling financially need support. What they do NOT need is to be pulled between political, religious camps or exploited and coerced by a multi-billion dollar adoption industry that depends financially on family separations and the redistribution of children. This mega industry employs marketing agents and lobbyists to exploit and coerce mothers and commodify their babies to meet a demand...often successfully gaining well-meaning pro-life supporters ... while more than a hundred thousand children in foster care COULD be adopted! Shame, shame on all of you!