Child Abuse, Abortion Link

It’s difficult to write something that will undoubtedly cast aspersions on people, but I believe in intellectual honesty and the pursuit of knowledge. If we’re willing to spend money on researching the high-rate of obesity among lesbians, as John B. posted yesterday, then we should be willing to at least discuss something of far greater significance to public health. And that is whether post-abortive women are more likely to abuse themselves and future children…

The link between child abuse and abortion is nothing new, but for some reason most psychologists refuse to look at the issue objectively. Studies indicating a link are tossed aside, rendered flawed, and the discussion never truly takes place. But I want people to look at the evidence and decide for themselves, outside the sphere of influence of politically motivated organizations like the American Psychological Association and Planned Parenthood.

The Evidence

According to researchers in Finland, post-abortive women were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who gave birth. 

M. Gissler et. al., “Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000,” European J. Public Health
15(5):459-63, 2005.

According to a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, abortion has been linked to a whole host of mental health problems, including panic attacks, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, mania, major depression and substance abuse, nearly all of which increases the likelihood of child abuse.

A 2008 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry  found that post-abortive women in New Zealand were 30 percent more likely to have problems with substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and major depression. The study found no link between pregnancy and subsequent mental health problems.

A 2000 study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that post-abortive women were five times more likely to report drug and alcohol abuse than women who gave birth. Drug & Alcohol abuse in the home increases the likelihood of child abuse.  

A 2003 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that post-abortive low-income women were 160% more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment than were low-income women who gave birth.

A 2009 study in Public Health found that both women and men who had personal experience with abortion were more likely  to report problems with domestic violence. Men also reported more problems with substance abuse.

In his book Deeply Damaged, psychiatrist Philip Ney, M.D., a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, wrote:

When I investigated the relationship between child abuse and abortion and reported a direct correlation, people were angry and astonished. It appeared that the rate of child abuse did not decrease with freely available abortions. In fact, the opposite was true.

In parts of Canada where there were low rates of abortion there were low rates of child abuse. As the rates of abortion increased, so did child abuse…Indeed, it is a vicious cycle. That is, parents who have been involved in abortion are more likely to abuse and neglect their children. Mothers and fathers who were abused as children are more likely to abort their child. (Pg. 91).

He goes on to write:

It is possible that the mother who has had an abortion is more anxious during the pregnancy and more depressed afterwards. She is less able to bond with her next child…

It is possible that the abortion alters the mother’s innate response to the infant’s cry. Abortion may make it difficult for the mother to touch the baby, lessening the chances of breast-feeding and a healthy child. A less nourished child will cry more often and more pathetically, making the mother more anxious and/or irritable in her response to her infant’s needs.

If the evidence and deductions are correct, then abortion directly or indirectly, contributes to child abuse and neglect by:

  • Interfering with the formation of a protective bond between the infant and both parents
  • Changing the parental response to the helpless infant’s cry, from nurture to aggression or neglect
  • Lessening the amount of touching the child and of breast-feeding
  • Diminishing the partner’s support of the mother
  • Devaluing the child and thus those who care for children
  • Creating a complicated grief for the mother, thus making her less aware of and less able to respond to the child’s needs
  • Promoting depression in the mother, for which children will tend to blame themselves.

By no means have I exhausted the issue. I have only shared  the studies I find  most revealing because the list of similar and relevant material is simply too vast to cover completely.

In closing, let me say that none of this is grounds to criminalize abortion. There are many things that are bad for people that are very legal, alcohol for example. But I do believe that this information should be presented to women who seek abortion services. It is not fair to them that, for political and financial reasons, organizations like the American Psychological Association and Planned Parenthood push lies and misinformation.

What do you think?


  1. While I am certainly against abortion, you have to be careful about causation vrs correlation. Your commentary seems to imply that abortion naturally leads to increased mental health problems or domestic violence issues.

    While I don’t know much about the epidemeology of abortions, I would guess that those who have abortions are disproportionately poor, uneducated, and young. Those factors alone would also correlate with increased likelyhood of mental illness and domestic violence. I love the old example of this: Increased ice cream sales are correlated with increased rates of drowning. Of course the common factor here is the increased temperature. Eliminating ice cream would have no impact on drowning. I tend to think that the correlation you state falls into this category.

  2. tumeyn,

    My commentary was objective, I thought. I merely provided the evidence – from more than a single source.

    Of course, a single study proves nothing, a second study proves nothing, and maybe even a third study proves nothing. But study after study showing correlation? You have to consider causation at that point. And if you read each study, particularly the Coleman review, I think you’ll find a proper methodology.


    If you’re willing to admit that there MIGHT be more than mere correlation, then surely you cannot object to informing women of the possibility that subsequent mental health problems might arise. Women deserve that much, I think. The possibility, and this is more than a meager one, that abortion may increase the likelihood of some future health problem is enough to warrant disclosure. Don’t you think?

    While I don’t know much about the epidemeology of abortions, I would guess that those who have abortions are disproportionately poor, uneducated, and young.

    The 2003 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked exclusively at poor women who had abortions and poor women who gave birth. The post-abortive women were 160% more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric problems. All other indicators were accounted for, so I don’t think your ice cream analogy quite fits in this case.

    From Guttmacher:

    Aside from poverty, little changed in the profile of women obtaining abortions between 2000 and 2008. A broad cross section of U.S. women have abortions: Fifty-eight percent of abortion patients in 2008 were in their 20s; 45% were never-married and not living with a partner; 61% were already mothers; 42% were living below the federal poverty line; 36% were white; 59% had at least some college education; and 73% were religiously affiliated. But certain groups of women—those who were in their 20s, cohabiting, black or poor—were overrepresented among abortion patients.

    So while many of them are in fact poor, a majority of them are not. But I think the better way to look at this issue would be to look at who participated in the studies, rather than the blanket stats. You must keep in mind that several of those studies included women living outside the United States. The New Zealand study, for example.

  3. Tumeyn

    Let’s look at it this way for a moment and see if “causation” isn’t the most reasonable conclusion: what is abortion?

    Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. In the case of women — mothers — having an abortion, they are taking the life of their own child. At some point in a post-abortive mother’s life, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this reality sinks in.

    Think about it, when a mother is pregnant and they want the baby, everyone in their life including themself treats the baby in her womb (coldly termed fetus) as a baby. “My baby kicked…my baby kept me up all night twisting and turning…” even calling the baby by name in many cases. “I don’t think Johnny likes spicy food…” etc.

    Now think of what kind impact this revelation would have on her when it does finally sink in that she intentionally killed her baby. Given the selfish nature of the reasons most women have abortions, I can imagine how regretful it must be.

    I think causation is the only justified conclusion if we don’t obfuscate and cloud the discussion by pretending we don’t know what the fetus really is (I’m not saying you did this at all, pro-choicers do).

  4. The argument Tumeyn made deserves consideration – and it has been considered. Dr. Coleman, who I have exchanged e-mails with several times over the past few years, has responded extensively to similar arguments. Dr. Shuping, who I’ve also communicated with, has responded. All the criticism and responses can be found in those links.

    But more than drowning yourself in a lot of jargon, you need only comprehend the sheer number of studies that show a link between abortion and subsequent mental health problems. I have barely scratched the surface with what I’ve listed in this brief article. So unless you’re willing to believe that there’s some vast pro-life conspiracy to totally misrepresent the evidence in well over 200 studies, then you need to consider the possibility of causation. And then your concern should be with shedding light on the possibility so that women are fully informed of the risks.

  5. But John’s point is well-taken, I think, and it is perhaps the best point raised.

    You cannot allow someone to rip apart the living human being growing inside you and not feel at least something like natural human emotion. You don’t need these studies to know that mental heath problems will arise in many post-abortive women because of the trauma that truly is abortion. You need only your common sense.

  6. Excellent article, and a good resource to keep as a link!

  7. I must admit, I actually am more alarmed by women who *don’t* feel any sort of regret or sadness for their abortions. I know one post-abortive woman, now a grandmother, who not only has no regrets about killing her own child, but acknowledges that the “fetus” is, indeed, a human baby – but that that baby isn’t a person, because you can’t have two persons living in one body, therefore it is acceptable to kill that baby at any point the mother sees fit.

    That sort of blasé dehumanization of the unborn is truly disturbing.

  8. That sort of blasé dehumanization of the unborn is truly disturbing.

    It sure is.

  9. Good article unfortunately women who want to terminate are unstoppable. In actual fact if a study was to be carried out about women who wanted but failed to terminate you may actually find similar results. That is how complex this matter is, otherwise thanks for informing the world.

  10. Sheri,

    Abortion being “unstoppable” through criminalization or other means is a matter to be explored, but regardless, if an act is wrong then it is wrong. Laws against robbery haven’t stopped robbery, but few would advocate repealing the prohibition.

    Your second conclusion is actually false and two of the studies prove it. They looked at post-abortive women and women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term and found that post-abortive women stil had higher rates of mental illness.

    And is the issue complex? In some respects, yes. But society’s obligation to protect unborn children and women from the predatory practices of abortionists is hardly a thorny issue.

    Thanks for the comment.

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