NRL News

More Evidence of Increased Psychological Risks Associated with Abortion from Chinese Study

by | Mar 14, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D.

A new study out of China has added to the rapidly accumulating world literature on abortion and mental health, demonstrating that even in a culture where abortion is widespread, women who’ve aborted are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety in the 1st trimester of a subsequent pregnancy than women who have not aborted.

According to Dr. Priscilla Coleman, an expert on abortion and its impact on mental health, “The 1st trimester of a later pregnancy may be the most difficult time for women, who have experienced an induced abortion, since the majority of abortions occur early in pregnancy. This is disconcerting because all the major body structures are formed during the 1st trimester and stress hormones may potentially harm the developing fetus.”

The data for “The Impact of Prior Abortion on Anxiety and Depression Symptoms during a Subsequent Pregnancy: Data From a Population-Based Cohort Study” came from a sample consisted of 6,887 women, 3,264 (47.6%) of whom had experienced at least one abortion.

According to Huang and colleagues, women who had undergone an induced abortion a year or more prior were 49% more likely to experience depression and 114% more likely to experience anxiety in the 1st trimester of a subsequent pregnancy, when compared to women who had not experienced an induced abortion.

If the prior abortion had occurred within the past year, women experienced a 97% increased risk for experiencing anxiety during the 1st trimester. When assessed during the 2nd trimester, women with a prior induced abortion that had occurred less than a year earlier were at a 64% greater risk of depression.

This takes on enormous significance in light of the estimated 7,215,400 annual abortions in China—six times the number in the United States.

The Chinese team  also compared and contrasted the impact of spontaneous abortions (miscarriage) on women.

“The study revealed that women with a history of spontaneous abortion were not at a greater risk for anxiety or depression in the 1st or 2nd trimester of a subsequent pregnancy, when compared to women without a history of spontaneous abortion,” Dr. Coleman explained. “These results were obtained when the prior loss occurred within one year and when it occurred over a year before the current pregnancy.”

The Chinese team, which is affiliated with the Anhui Medical College in China, wrote

“The process of deciding to have an abortion can be difficult, and the reasons for electing to have an abortion  can affect the psychological responses after the event. Thus, the social, moral, and psychological context of an induced abortion may be more complicated than that of that of a spontaneous abortion, and may result in different psychological experiences.”

Dr. Coleman added that the psychological experience of abortion is more likely to be associated with long-term psychological distress than spontaneous abortion. “Similar results were derived from studies conducted by Dr. Anne Broen in Norway.”

The study can be read at

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Categories: Abortion