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Abortion & Mental Ill health

Right to Life New Zealand Inc

I20 March 2008

Media Release

Royal College of Psychiatrists - Abortion & Mental Ill health

The Royal College of Psychiatrists on 14 March issued a position statement on "Women's mental health in Relation to Induced Abortion." The statement said that

women who want to have an abortion should undergo counselling if doctors have concern for their mental health."Healthcare professionals who assess or refer women who are requesting an abortion should assess for mental disorder and for risk factors that may be associated with its subsequent development. This position statement replaces the College's position adopted in 1994 and is a complete reversal of their position on abortion; it then stated that abortions did not result in mental ill health for women.

The new position statement reflects the increasing concern among members of the Psychiatric profession at the damage that is being inflicted on women as a result of abortion. This evidence is being given to psychiatrists by wounded and hurt women who have experienced an abortion and are seeking help.

The College states that "the specific issue of whether or not abortion has harmful effects on women's mental health remains to be fully resolved." The College also states that there should be systematic reviews to consider whether there is evidence for psychiatric indications for abortion. This is a very critical question, in view of the fact that since the passing of the Contraception Sterilisation And Abortion Act 1977, more than 350,000 unborn children have been killed in New Zealand. It should be noted that 98 per cent of these abortions were authorised on the grounds of the alleged mental ill health of the mother. There are probably tens of thousands of women in our community who have been deeply hurt, traumatised and suffering mental ill health as the result of an abortion they were coerced into having. As abortion is sanctioned and funded by the state there is an urgent need for the government to accept responsibility and act decisively to protect New Zealand women from mental ill health

A recent study conducted by the Canterbury Health and Development Study at the Christchurch School of Medicine and led by Professor David Fergusson indicated that abortion destroys the psychological health of teenagers. The study found that women who had an abortion had increased rates of severe depression compared with women who gave birth. They were also twice as likely to drink alcohol to dangerous levels and three times as likely to be dependent on illicit drugs. Those who had an abortion also suffered elevated rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviours.

The College's new position statement raises important questions for women's health;

1. Will the Minister of Health now ensure that women considering an abortion are given written information on the potential psychiatric sequalae that might result from having an abortion?

2. Will the government now institute a review to consider whether there is evidence for psychiatric indications for abortion?

3. Will the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists now give consideration to adopting a similar position on abortion as the Royal College of Psychiatrists?

There is growing body of evidence that women do not want abortions, that abortion does not help them or serve their needs or desires, that abortion is a form of injustice to women and their unborn children, and that abortion harms everyone involved.

Right to Life earnestly hopes that women will cease to suffer in pain and silence and be encouraged to speak up about the physical and psychological damage that is being inflicted on them from abortions that they are being coerced into. We also hope that there will be an increasing awareness in the community that abortion part of a culture of death not only kills unborn babies but cruelly damages women's health.

Ken Orr


Right to Life New Zealand Inc.


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