Article 22 & suicide

Finnish study shows women who had abortions were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who had full-term births

By Maureen Curley 

Abortion is a panacea that alleviates women’s distress in the face of unexpected pregnancies – or so proponents of Article 22 will have them believe. But abortion is no cure-all. In Vermont, women’s psychological health will worsen should voters approve Article 22, a ballot initiative that would permit abortion up to the moment of birth, this November.  

By making ‘personal reproductive liberty’ absolute, Article 22 pushes the limits of existing abortion policy in Vermont well beyond the boundaries of established healthcare standards. Abortion on demand without regard for risk is not healthcare, period. In contrast, authentic healthcare gives primacy to the health, welfare and safety of patients.  

It has been proven that compared to women who carry their children to term, those who obtain abortions experience consistently higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders and PTSD. They also engage in more self-destructive behavior, like suicide, than women who do not have abortions.  

In fact, the suicide rate in women who had abortions is six times higher than in women who don’t. More than 20 percent of college women experience a first-time episode of suicidal thoughts after abortion, lasting for years after the procedure, according to my study of international college students.   

Meanwhile, The Textbook on Women’s Reproductive Psychiatry (2022) identifies abortion as a type of psychological trauma and recommends evaluation and treatment for women who may be at risk.  In fact, abortion providers themselves identify women with a history of abuse, or those with previous mental health problems as among those who are known to experience serious deterioration of their mental health after abortion. Additionally, the American Psychological Association identified over ten sub- groups of women who are prone to develop serious mental health problems after abortion including younger women, women who have abortions in the second and third trimester and those who have repeat abortions. This is critical as in Vermont and worldwide younger women have the highest rates of abortion and the highest rates of repetitive abortions.  

Article 22 provides no protection to safeguard the mental health of these women. It eliminates any consideration for healthcare professionals to fully disclose known adverse psychological reactions to abortion, screen for women who are at risk, monitor their status post abortion, or provide follow up services as needed. It also removes any consideration to present equal access alternatives such as adoption.   

As a nurse practitioner and mental health professional who practiced in Vermont for 15 years, I strongly believe that Article 22 would further negatively impact women who choose abortion for years to come. Vermont women and adolescent girls deserve better than this.  

Vermonters should stand against Article 22 this November. There is no need to usher in greater mental health risks to the lives of women already struggling to cope with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies.  

Maureen Curley holds a doctorate in research. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she treats women who experience mental health problems surrounding all types of reproductive events. 

Categories: Commentary

6 replies »

  1. This is so correct. My sister committed suicide August 13, 2020 in Vermont. She suffered terribly from having an abortion in her 20’s. She was always the fun one of our family of 10 kids. It impacted her greatly. I pray anyone who considers an abortion is informed of the long term emotional pain…that may outweigh the pain of putting a child up for adoption.

  2. One of the cited studies concluded the following.

    Conclusions and Future Research
    Based on our comprehensive review and evaluation of the empirical literature published in peer-reviewed journals since 1989, this Task Force on Mental Health
    and Abortion concludes that the most methodologically sound research indicates that among women who have a single, legal, first-trimester abortion of an unplanned pregnancy for nontherapeutic reasons, the relative risks of mental health problems are no greater than the risks among women who deliver an unplanned pregnancy. This conclusion is generally consistent with that reached by the first APA task force (Adler et al., 1990).

    Another study is by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) – remember them and their Covid analysis.

    I’m not advocating for a specific policy, only pointing out that the conversation needs to engaged – not swept under the rug by Article 22.

  3. I love that the men feel so strongly about pregnancies that are not of their own making. Do you also feel strongly about women who kill their own children? Driving them into a lake seems to be a popular method. Maybe this is an American phenomenon. Do you also feel strongly about women who are mothers who kill themselves? Children of suicides suffer terribly, and are you worried about them? When one is only worried about a fetus within a person that they don’t even know, it says far more about that person than it does about the person carrying the fetus.

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