(ORDO NEWS) — Although the government that bans abortions positions it as a health concern and a fight to increase the birth rate, such laws have a negative impact on the psychological state of a woman and may push her to suicide.
When the US Supreme Court overturned women’s constitutional rights to abortion in June this year, it sparked a backlash among American women of reproductive age, who for 49 years have enjoyed the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies at any time.
From now on, federal laws do not guarantee rights regarding abortion, and individual states can independently prohibit this procedure, which will potentially affect about 36 million women.
A group of American researchers from various scientific centers came to the conclusion that the restriction or complete ban on abortion entails an increased risk of suicide among women of reproductive age, but not among the elderly, who are purely physically unable to have a child.
It is assumed that the stress associated with unwanted pregnancy plays a major role: it forces women to take their own lives.
In a previous study, researchers have shown that limited access to abortion increases the likelihood that a woman will completely abandon the creation of a family and decide to devote herself to a career.
Now the researchers decided to test how respect for reproductive rights affects mental health, in particular the risk of suicide, one of the leading causes of death for Americans aged 25 to 44.
The scientists analyzed state data collected from 1974 to 2016 among the female population of reproductive age and assessed the degree of access to reproductive assistance on a three-point scale for each time period (they were limited to the dates of the adoption of laws related to reproductive rights).
They then analyzed suicide rates among women of reproductive age before and after the laws went into effect, comparing them with general suicide trends and rates in places without such restrictions.
According to the results, during periods of the most severe restrictions on access to abortion, the number of suicides among women of reproductive age increased by an average of 5.81 percent.
To make sure that the dynamics were related to the adoption of laws and related to women of a certain age, the researchers compared the data with data for women aged 45 to 64 years over the same period, as well as for deaths of women in motor vehicle accidents.
But no connection was found. Accounting for potential confounding factors, such as the economy and the political climate, also did not affect the results.
Of course, these findings have limitations: for example, the researchers did not have access to data on past motherhood experiences or the mental health of individual women.
But in general, according to the authors of the work, their results are of great importance and may influence the policy of suicide prevention and ethical debate about the acceptability of abortion.
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