In most states in America, the choice to abort a pregnancy is up to the woman carrying the fetus. Abortion has been vehemently defended and fought against since it was legalized in 1973. The right to choose to carry a pregnancy to term or abort is considered by women throughout the country on a daily basis. Factors such as health conditions and financial limitations often influence the decision a woman makes. However, in China, the decision to abort a pregnancy is often based only on the gender of the unborn child. Abortion is legal in China, and since the one-child law was enacted in 1979 in an effort to limit China’s population growth, many families choose to abort pregnancies that will result in a female child in order to try again for a son.
Spontaneous abortions occur in many pregnancies and result in the termination of the pregnancy. These usually happen in the first trimester and are completely unplanned and unexpected. However, the result of either spontaneous or induced abortion is the same, the termination of the pregnancy. Numerous studies have been conducted on how abortion negatively impacts the mental health of the mother. However, until now, few studies have compared the psychological ramifications of induced versus spontaneous abortions in women during their subsequent pregnancies. “Abortion represents a complex biological and psychological event, which is regarded as a difficult and distressing life event for a woman,” said Zhaohui Huang of the Department of Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health at the School of Public Health at Anhui Medical University in China, and author of a recent study.
Huang examined the levels of depression and anxiety in pregnant women with a history of either spontaneous or induced abortions. Of the 3,264 women studied, those with induced abortions reported higher levels of depression and anxiety in their first trimester than the women who had never had abortions. Huang also found that the women with no abortion history had similar levels of both anxiety and depression as those women who had experienced spontaneous abortions. Huang believes that Chinese women who have a history of induced abortions should be closely monitored during subsequent pregnancies for any psychological issues that could affect the well-being of their unborn child and their ability to care for that child.
Huang, Z., Hoa, J., Su, P., Huang, K., Xing, X., Cheng, D., et al. (2012). The impact of prior abortion on anxiety and depression symptoms during a subsequent pregnancy: Data from a population-based cohort study in China. Bulletin of Clinical Pschopharmacology22.1, 51-58.
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