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Women's Health

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Abortion Linked to Depression


"These people came up with the notion of post abortion syndrome, and the agenda here is to get it recognized as a medical condition," Russo says. "Then they will be able to say that a woman who is mentally ill, or depressed, or insecure, or vulnerable is that way because she is suffering from post abortion syndrome. There was even a recent attempt to get the National Institutes of Health to study it, when there is no evidence that there is an it."

Russo says the anti-abortion lobby's characterization of her research is misleading. She acknowledges that abortion is linked to depression, but contends that other lifestyle issues like income, education level, and risk of victimization also play a role. She recently published a study finding that women who had abortions were more likely to have a history of sexual abuse and victimization, compared to those who had not had abortions. Not surprisingly, they also had higher depression scores. Russo is a regent professor in psychology at Arizona State University.

"I have had students tell me they heard Rush Limbaugh talking about my work, saying that I said having abortions raises your self esteem," she says. "That is ridiculous. Women who have unwanted pregnancies terminated by abortions are, as a group, more depressed than women who don't. But if you take away the abortion from the equation, will you still see depression? The answer is no. And I say you often still have a woman who is in trouble."

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