STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
People have been arguing for decades over how an abortion affects a woman's mental health. NPR's Nancy Shute has the results of a new study.
NANCY SHUTE: Robert Blum is an expert in the field of reproductive health, and a professor at Johns Hopkins. He did not work on this study.
D: This is an extremely, extremely well-done study. There is no evidence to support the notion that abortion predisposes a woman to psychiatric and mental health problems.
SHUTE: Blum, a former president of the Guttmacher Institute, would like to say goodbye to the political buzz words.
D: There is no post-abortion trauma, post-abortion syndrome, or anything of the like.
SHUTE: That's not surprising, says Nada Stotland. She's a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago. She says that women considering abortion are often struggling with problems with a partner or family members.
D: People have abortions, often, under troubled circumstances. You have an abortion because there's a problem.
SHUTE: What makes this study unique is that it looked at women who chose abortion, and also looked at women who chose to have the baby. Stotland says this gives us a much better picture of the stresses of abortion and childbirth.
D: Above all, it really fairly, fairly contrasts the outcomes of abortion with the outcomes of pregnancy.
SHUTE: The women who decided to have babies were doing great while they were pregnant. For some, that picture changed when they became mothers. Trine Munk- Olsen is the scientist who led the Danish study. She says they saw a sudden spike in new mothers who needed help with severe mental disorders.
M: Including psychosis and, for example, depression after delivery.
SHUTE: That's true not just in Denmark. As many as 25 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. It's a significant public health problem. Robert Blum, at Hopkins, says that new mothers need much more help.
D: We need to acknowledge and provide mental health support for a significant number of women who experience postpartum depression.
SHUTE: The message, then, is that pregnancy poses mental health challenges for women, whether they choose to give birth or choose to have an abortion. Stotland says that's why women need friends and family to stand by them.
D: They might not agree with your decision; that's not the same thing. But they have to support you. They have to know that no one else can make this decision but you.
SHUTE: Nancy Shute, NPR News, Washington.
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