Abortion and mental health during the transition to adulthood
Abortion
Awarded 2013
Small Research Grants
Anu Gomez, PhD, MSc
San Francisco State University
$15,000

Objectives: To test the association between having an abortion and subsequent depression, in a nationally representative and longitudinal dataset, controlling for pre-pregnancy depression. Methods: Data from four waves of the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health were utilized. Multivariate logistic regression models were employed to test the relationship between having an abortion and subsequent depression. Analyses included women who had experienced unwanted pregnancies that ended in abortion or birth. All models adjusted for pre-pregnancy depression, race/ethnicity, childhood family structure, relationship status, educational attainment, income, age, and experience of child abuse. Results: Among women who had only experienced an unwanted pregnancy between Waves II and III, those who had abortions did not have a statistically significant increase in the odds of subsequent depression at Wave III compared those who gave birth. Among women who had only experienced an unwanted pregnancy between Waves III and IV, those who had abortions did not have a statistically significant increase in the odds of subsequent depression at Wave IV compared those who gave birth. In both models, pre-pregnancy depression was the strongest correlate of subsequent depression. Conclusions: In a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset, there was no evidence that women whose unwanted pregnancies result in abortion were at increased risk of subsequent depression compared to women who give birth after unwanted pregnancy.

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