16th May, 2012
This weekend Real Choices Australia is holding its second annual conference in Melbourne. This year’s theme of ‘Setting the Standard’ is fulfilled by the calibre of national and international speakers, addressing vital topics. Dr Priscilla Coleman, is the world’s most published researcher on the impact of abortion on women, particularly the negative impact on mental health.
PICTURE: © Sharon Dominick/istockphoto.com
"Of particular interest is the finding that almost 10 per cent of the incidence of all mental health problems in the community has been shown to be directly attributable to abortion. Given the millions of dollars expended on mental health initiatives in this country, this figure is very significant and of economic concern."
According to a study by Dr Coleman published in the highly regarded British Journal of Psychiatry, women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems. This study was a meta-analysis of 22 studies published between 1995 and 2009 involving almost 900,000 women across six countries.
The results of these combined studies reveal higher rates of anxiety related disorders (34 per cent), depression (37 per cent), alcohol use/abuse (110 per cent), marijuana use (230 per cent), and higher rates of suicidal behaviour (155 per cent).
When comparing women who had abortions with women who delivered after an unintended pregnancy, those having abortions had an overall increased risk of 55 per cent for experiencing any mental health problem.
Of particular interest is the finding that almost 10 per cent of the incidence of all mental health problems in the community has been shown to be directly attributable to abortion. Given the millions of dollars expended on mental health initiatives in this country, this figure is very significant and of economic concern.
If the medical community apply the same evidence based approach to the provision of abortion services as any other medical or surgical service, this information should be incorporated into the practise of informed consent processes in order for women to make fully informed health care decisions.
Real Choices Australia believes that abortion is inherently harmful to women. More than 94 per cent of women considering abortion do so in the absence of real choice. They also do so in the absence of full disclosure of all the potential negative outcomes. Abortion is coercive when it is presented as the only option to a woman’s circumstances. Without real and adequate support to continue a pregnancy, there is no choice.
This year Dr Coleman also presents valuable research which debunks the myth, still promoted on many abortion clinic websites, that abortion is safer than childbirth.
Other speakers at the conference include Mr Greg Hasek, also from the US, who brings his professional expertise from years of working with men suffering after abortion, and his establishment of the first Men and Abortion Network. The facts about the negative experiences of women following abortion, are often denied. Men are even more silenced in their grief, told they have no right to a voice about their unborn children, and certainly no right to suffering.
It is vital that we hear this information in Australia, as our own laws surrounding abortion become less restrictive, with current Victorian law allowing abortion up until birth, and many other states seeking to legislate the same. This is occurring in an environment of both misinformation, and voter ignorance about what abortion means, why women have abortions, and abortion providers failing to inform women about the potential of harm to them and their families of abortion.
Debbie Garratt is the executive director of Real Choices Australia. Real Choices Australia was established in 2007 to meet the professional needs of people who come into contact with women experiencing unintended pregnancy, and women who are suffering after abortion and provides professional training, conduct research, and educate the public, politicians and health professionals about the growing evidence of harm of abortion. For more information, see www.realchoices.org.au.
The conference is being held at The Centre, Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe on Friday 18th – Saturday 19th May. Registration is $297 and includes 2 full days with lunch, a cocktail function on Friday evening and access to the world’s most qualified, professional researchers on abortion and its effects. To register: www.realchoices.org.au/register-now.