Mental Health Diagnoses 3 Years After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the United States

Am J Public Health. 2015 Dec;105(12):2557-63. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302803. Epub 2015 Oct 15.


Objectives: We set out to assess the occurrence of new depression and anxiety diagnoses in women 3 years after they sought an abortion.

Methods: We conducted semiannual telephone interviews of 956 women who sought abortions from 30 US facilities. Adjusted multivariable discrete-time logistic survival models examined whether the study group (women who obtained abortions just under a facility's gestational age limit, who were denied abortions and carried to term, who were denied abortions and did not carry to term, and who received first-trimester abortions) predicted depression or anxiety onset during seven 6-month time intervals.

Results: The 3-year cumulative probability of professionally diagnosed depression was 9% to 14%; for anxiety it was 10% to 15%, with no study group differences. Women in the first-trimester group and women denied abortions who did not give birth had greater odds of new self-diagnosed anxiety than did women who obtained abortions just under facility gestational limits.

Conclusions: Among women seeking abortions near facility gestational limits, those who obtained abortions were at no greater mental health risk than were women who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Abortion, Legal / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Legal / psychology
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult