Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Women who have abortions are significantly more likely to physically abuse their children than women who do not have abortions, said a study by a research group and professors at Bowling Green State University.

Compared with mothers with no history of induced abortion, those who had undergone the procedure were found to have a 144 percent greater risk of physically abusing their children, said the study, published by the medical journal Acta Paediatrica. Women with pregnancy loss in general — including abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage — were found to be 99 percent more likely to commit child abuse.

Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University, led a team of researchers who looked at data from a survey of 581 low-income Baltimore women with at least one child 12 or younger. Ms. Coleman, who has participated in related studies, said the results may reflect the psychological problems experienced by post-abortive mothers.

“There’s a good number of women who have abortions, experience it as a … loss with bereavement, some guilt — guilt is a pretty common experience with abortion. Those kinds of effects could cause anger, and we know parents who abuse their children often have anger-control issues,” Ms. Coleman said.

The research team also surveyed women who lost unborn children because of stillbirth or miscarriage. Ms. Coleman said those women may experience some of the same psychological effects as post-abortive mothers, but the effects usually are not so long-lasting.

“[Researchers] didn’t get the same effects for miscarriage, even though women have difficulties and adjustments afterwards,” she said, adding that the impact of miscarriage “tends to resolve over time, within two years, but with abortion, it kind of lingers on.”

She said this, in part, might explain the study’s findings.

David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, a group specializing in the effects of abortion, said the Bowling Green research the newest of about a half-dozen studies linking abortion and child abuse.

“It negates the claim … that abortion would result in reduced child abuse and child neglect,” Mr. Reardon said. “There’s at least indicative evidence that [abortion] may be associated with abuse and neglect.”

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