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'Abortion doesn't make girls depressed'

Having an abortion doesn't make teenage girls more depressed, say US researchers. Their findings clash with the standard thinking that abortion leaves some girls feeling eaten up by regret about not having the baby.

People who are against legal abortion often argue that it harms women's mental health, say the public health researchers. What's more, the law in some parts of the United States says women have to be warned about this risk before they can have an abortion.

Worthless and miserable

It's true some girls do end up feeling worthless and miserable after an abortion, the experts from Oregon and California universities found. But that was because the girls felt like that anyway, even before they got pregnant. There was no special link between abortion and depression.

The research team trawled through years of data from a nationwide survey on teens in US schools, called 'Add Health'. It was the first time anyone had checked the data specially to see if abortion caused depression and low-self esteem in teenage girls.


The researchers admit there might be holes in their study. For one thing, some teenagers who've had an abortion don't own up to it. It could be that they are just the people who are more likely to feel depressed about it afterwards.

But it's time to stop scaring women who want an abortion about risks to their mental health, the researchers argue. It could be that the worry this causes actually makes them more likely to get depressed.

*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.

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