Abortion Doesn't Make Teens Depressed

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 28 2010 10:32 AM

Abortion Doesn't Make Teens Depressed

The pro-life movement has put a lot of energy into arguing that abortion harms women. The first wave of this effort claimed a link between abortion and breast cancer. When scientists definitively shot that down, the pro-lifers shifted to arguing that abortion-and regret about it afterward-connects to higher rates of depression and suicide. This is the fabled "post abortion syndrome." I wrote about women who believe in it in 2007. The next year, the American Psychological Association issued a report, based on an exhaustive review of all the medical literature published on the topic since 1989, which found no credible evidence that abortion leads to higher rates of mental health problems for women. But the APA couldn’t speak with certainty about teenagers, because there wasn’t enough research.

A new study in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health helps fill in that gap. It used data from an ongoing, nationally representative survey of teenagers. The authors compared 220 girls who said they’d been pregnant and hadn't had an abortion to 69 who had. The key finding is this: "The young women in this study who had an abortion were not more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the year of the pregnancy or five yars later than were their peers whose pregnancies did not end in abortion." Abortion is a fraught event for many teens, no doubt. But this study is good evidence that it’s one they bounce back from.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.