Jeremy Laurance: The truth is that abortion isn’t as traumatic as people make out
Tuesday 13 December 2011
There are not many cheery stories about abortion. One of the best can be found in Chapter 15 of Caitlin Moran's new bestseller, How to be a Woman. It is a fearless account of how she terminated a pregnancy (she already had two children), unpicking in forensic detail the emotions she went through – and none of them was as she, or we, might have expected. In place of angst, trauma, and regret, she experienced certainty, relief and confidence she had done the right thing.
Her story highlights an important truth: abortion ain't as bad as people make out, especially anti-abortion organisations.
Now there is research to back her up. The most comprehensive and systematic review of the impact of abortion on mental health conducted anywhere in the world, published last week, found it had no effect. The mental health of women with unwanted pregnancies was no different whether they had an abortion or proceeded to the birth.
Reassuring as that finding may be for the 200,000 women who have abortions in the UK each year, it does raise a tricky question. To obtain an abortion women must to find two doctors who will authorise it. By far the commonest ground, cited in nine out of 10 abortions, is that to proceed with the pregnancy would put the mental health of the woman at risk. This study appears to put that ground in jeopardy.
Abortion organisations were split in response to the finding, with half still insisting a termination did permanent damage to women's souls, with the other, cannier, half hoping the finding was true so that they could challenge the legality of the procedure. The authors of the study reject this challenge, insisting the findings could indicate doctors are successfully identifying women at risk from the pregnancy, and referring them for abortion to obviate it.
It is clear already that this world-beating review, despite its size, will not settle the debate. But it is surely time now, in the wake of its findings, to abandon the pretence of "grounds" for abortion and acknowledge, once and for all, that it is a woman's right to choose.
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...