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Distinguished academic tells MPs about the mental health risks of abortion

14 March 2018


SPUC CEO John Smeaton, Prof Coleman, Sir Edward Leigh MP.

"I want this information to reach those who can make a difference." 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children yesterday held an event in Parliament, asking the question "Is Abortion a Mental Health Risk?"

The talk was given by Prof Priscilla Coleman, an academic psychologist of Human Development at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and was hosted by pro-life MP Sir Edward Leigh.

Wealth of evidence

Prof Coleman, who has written articles for a number of peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Journal of Medical Ethics, and European Journal of Public Health, shared her extensive research on the psychological effects of abortion with MPs from all the major parties. Her work has been praised and defended by Professor David Fergusson an eminent psychologist who has written in the same area.

She told the assembled MPs, peers and guests that there are over 100 studies identifying a range of risk-factors for post-abortion psychological and relational problems. For example, 14 studies have found that there are mental health consequences for women who have been coerced or pressured into abortion, and 27 listed ambivalence about the abortion decision as a factor.

Despite the availability of strong research documenting risk factors and professional awareness of them, abortion providers rarely, if ever, routinely screen for them and counsel women at risk, she said. 

A mental health crisis

Perhaps the most shocking result of Prof Coleman's research is a meta-analysis which found that women who have had an abortion experience an 81% higher risk for mental health problems of various forms compared to women who have not. She has concluded that 10% of all mental health problems are directly attributable to abortion. 

Women deserve to know the truth

"After fifty years of legalised abortion, it’s vital that both sides of the debate examine the impact it has had on women," Sir Edward Leigh said in his introductory remarks. He referenced SPUC's Abortion and Women's Health report, saying "women deserve to know some of the shocking findings in this report, and I want this information to reach those who can make a difference. I urge all my colleagues, especially the Health Secretary, to look at the substantive evidence pointing to the physical and mental harm to women that can happen as a result of abortion." 

Antonia Tully, Campaign Director for the SPUC, said: "We must break this conspiracy of silence around the damaging impact of abortion on the mental and physical health of women.  We welcome Sir Edward Leigh's support in bringing the attention of MPs to the compelling evidence on the ravaging effect of abortion on women.  The Department of Health must be made to recognise that the abortion industry in this country is wreaking havoc with women's health".

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