During the period from nine months before to 12 months after the abortion, 321 women were readmitted to a psychiatric hospital. By contrast, 5,293 women with records of mental disorders gave birth to their first child during the same study period. Among these women, 273 were readmitted from nine months prior to 12 months after childbirth, the study showed.
Although rates of readmission were higher overall among women having abortions, readmission rates were higher a month afterwards in the group of women who decided to go through childbirth, the study authors said.
Risk factors for readmission included a parental history of mental disorders. Risk was also highest among women in both groups who had been hospitalized closer to the time of their pregnancy, abortion or birth. The risk of readmission was reduced in women with one or more children at the time of abortion, according to the study.
Priscilla Coleman, a professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, took issue with the new findings.
She noted that the study was funded by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which, Coleman said, supports research on abortion rights. And the women in the study were only followed for one year after their abortion or the birth of their child, but women may experience emotional upheaval from the experience years later, she said.
"The design is so problematic that the results really don't mean a lot," Coleman said. "There is a wealth of data in the literature building a strong case that abortion could be detrimental to a certain proportion of women. We need to be helping women and not telling them, 'It is no big deal.'"
Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, an anti-abortion group based in Washingt
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