Abortion does not cause depression or low self-esteem in teens

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Washington, Sep 25 (ANI): A new study has suggested that teenage girls who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion.

Oregon State University and University of California researchers are the first to use both depression and low self-esteem as outcomes with a nationally representative sample of adolescents.

The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy - or five years later - than their peers whose pregnancies did not end in abortion.

The researchers used data from 289 respondents to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Data were taken from three survey waves, starting in 1994-1995, surveyed again one year later, and then five years after that. The study is available online and will appear in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Lead author Jocelyn Warren of OSU said the study was intended to fill a major gap in abortion research.

"We know most teen pregnancies are not wanted pregnancies and an unwanted pregnancy can be very stressful," said Warren.

She said previous research has shown that adolescent girls who get pregnant report more depression and lower self-esteem compared to those who don't.

"What we didn't know was whether psychological outcomes are worse for girls who choose abortion. This study says, 'No.'"

Warren noted that a 2008 report by the American Psychological Association found no evidence that an induced abortion causes mental health problems in adult women.

Because of a scarcity of evidence, no conclusions were drawn at that time about adolescents.

Warren said the results of their study with teen girls were consistent with the results of studies with adult women reviewed in the APA report.

Marie Harvey of OSU said: "In the interest of women's health, it's critical that we conduct the most rigorous studies possible and use evidence-based information to inform public policy.

"This is our goal in public health research but it may be even more important in areas such as abortion that are highly politicized."

Warren said it's important to note that individual women may have very different emotional responses to abortion. "But, on average, abortion does not appear to have major psychological consequences - for adult women or for teens."

Harvey said: "We have policies being made that are not evidence-based, and that have adverse consequences for women's health." (ANI)

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