Psychological Risk Indicators

Researchers who examine the data are accepting that abortion may deeply affect at least some of those who choose it.
  • Many women were found to have psychiatric disorders that were less severe than acute PAS.
  • Those women who do experience psychological problems tend to be women with a prior history of depression.
  • This is seen as evidence of the need for abortion providers to provide better screening and counseling.
  • Dr Julia Faed of NZ testified that abortion is not recommended when a woman has reactive depression.
  • Abortion providers who do not screen their patients risk greater liability in malpractice suits.
While there is disagreement over the degree to which Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) exists, even pro-abortion researchers admit that at least some women are negatively affected by abortion.

The arguments for and against an official post-abortion syndrome diagnosis will no doubt continue but those who examine the data are accepting that abortion deeply affects at least some of those who choose it.

A research team, led by Dr. Brenda Major, diagnosed PAS among 1.4 percent of a sample of women who had abortions two years previously.

Many women in the study reported psychiatric disorders that are less severe than acute PAS. Twenty percent of the women in Major's study experienced clinical depression. Also, when asked if they would do it all over again, 31 percent reported that they would not have chosen abortion or were uncertain.

Major's research team focused on the absence of problems among the majority of post-abortive women. They concluded that: "most women do not experience psychological problems or regret about their abortion two years post-abortion, but some do. Those who do, tend to be women with a prior history of depression."

Prior psychological problems are more likely to be made worse by abortion, not better.
Dr David Reardon of the Elliot Institute says: "... this study shows that abortionists should be screening for a history of depression. It also confirms a large body of earlier research that shows that prior psychological problems are more likely to be made worse by abortion, not better."

Founded in 1988, the Elliot Institute is a non-profit organisation dedicated to research, education and outreach regarding the effects of abortion on women, men, families and society. David C. Reardon, who founded and directs the Elliot Institute and is a leading opponent to abortion, has been on the forefront of post-abortion research since 1982.

Depression: A Contra-indication for Abortion
Dr Julia Faed, a clinical psychologist of Dunedin New Zealand, gave expert evidence in the Christchurch High Court in 1992 that reactive depression was a contra-indication for abortion (abortion is not recommended when there is depression).

She stated that the correct treatment for reactive depression was counselling or, if necessary, medication, and for severe reactive depression, hospitalisation.

Dr Faed, formerly a lecturer at the Otago Medical School, gave documented evidence from the international literature of her profession to corroborate her evidence.

A Psychological Price is Paid
Dr. Julius Fogel, a pro-abortion psychiatrist and obstetrician who has performed 20,000 abortions, expressed deep concern over the effects of abortion on the mother. He stated:

"Abortion is an impassioned subject. . . . Every woman--whatever her age, background, or sexuality--has a trauma at destroying a pregnancy. A level of humanness is touched.

"This is a part of her own life. She destroys a pregnancy, she is destroying herself. There is no way it can be innocuous. One is dealing with the life force.

"It is totally beside the point whether or not you think a life is there. You cannot deny that something is being created and that this creation is physically happening. . . .

"Often the trauma may sink into the unconscious and never surface in the woman's lifetime. But it is not as harmless and casual an event as many in the pro-abortion crowd insist.

"Something happens on the deeper levels of a woman's consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy."
"A psychological price is paid. It may be alienation; it may be a pushing away from human warmth, perhaps a hardening of the maternal instinct. Something happens on the deeper levels of a woman's consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy."

Grieving in Japan
In Japan grieving for the aborted child is socially acceptable and even encouraged. The parents usually make their arrangements in advance. After the abortion they go to the temple where they are welcomed.

The monk chants his sutra, burns incense, rings bells, soothes the deceased with ritual prayer, and assures the parents that the child is now at peace.

The ritual grieving brings to the surface the bitter sorrow of lost motherhood and helps the parents to deal with this trauma. Read more HERE

The Elliot Institute has identified a number of risk factors that predict a traumatic negative reaction to an abortion.


    • A. Difficulty making the decision, ambivalence, unresolved doubts:

      • Moral beliefs against abortion

        • Religious or conservative values

        • Negative attitudes toward abortion

        • Feelings of shame or social stigma attached to abortion

        • Strong concerns about secrecy

      • Conflicting maternal desires

        • Originally wanted or planned pregnancy

        • Abortion of wanted child due to foetal abnormalities

        • Therapeutic abortion of wanted pregnancy due to maternal health risk

        • Strong maternal orientation

        • Being married

        • Prior children

        • Failure to take contraceptive precautions, which may indicate an ambivalent desire to become pregnant

      • Preoccupation with fantasies of fetus, including sex and awareness of due date

      • Second or third trimester abortion, which generally indicates strong ambivalence or a coerced abortion of a "hidden" pregnancy.

    • B. Feels pressured or coerced

      • Feels pressured to have abortion

        • By husband or boyfriend

        • By parents

        • By doctor, counselor, employer, or others
      • Feels decision is not her own, or is "her only choice"

      • Feels pressured to choose too quickly

    • C. Decision is made with biased, inaccurate, or inadequate information

    • A. Adolescence, minors having an increased risk

    • B. Prior emotional or psychiatric problems

      • Poor use of psychological coping mechanisms

      • Prior low self-image

      • Poor work pattern 

      • Prior unresolved trauma

      • A history of sexual abuse or sexual assault

      • Blames pregnancy on her own character flaws, rather than on chance, others, or on correctable mistakes in behavior

      • Avoidance and denial prior to abortion

    • C. Lack of social support

      • Few friends

      • Made decision alone, without assistance from partner

      • A poor or unstable relationship with male partner

      • Lack of support from parents and family, either to have baby or to have abortion

      • Lack of support from male partner, either to have baby or to have abortion

      • Accompanied to abortion by male partner

    • D. Prior abortion(s)
Liability for Abortion Providers
Reardon, of the Elliot Institute, says:

"Based on these findings, most of which have been published by researchers who favor legalized abortion, it would appear reasonable to expect, and demand, that abortion providers:
  1. Provide pre-consent information about the types of psychological reactions which have been linked to a negative abortion experience and the risk factors associated with these adverse reactions

  2. Provide adequate pre-abortion screening using the criteria outlined above to identify women who are at higher risk of negative post-abortion reactions

  3. Provide individualized counseling to high risk patients which would more fully explain why the patient is at higher risk along with more detailed information concerning possible post-abortion reactions

  4. Assist women who have pre-identifying high risk factors in evaluating and choosing lower risk solutions to their social, economic, and health needs.
"Since these high risk factors have been well established for a considerable period of time," he says, "abortion providers who fail to utilize this information in their screening and counseling procedures may incur greater liability for subsequent injuries when malpractice suits are brought on these grounds."

See also Doctors and NZ Law where it is explained how NZ medical professionals could face complaint proceedings for breaches to the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.