A new study has brought back a lot of controversy about an old debate: abortion. The study links abortion to substance abuse, and it has people on both sides talking.
Researchers from the University of Manitoba report that women that have abortions are more likely to also suffer from substance abuse. They suggest that women that have abortions are 3.8 times more likely to be involved with substance abuse than other women.
Two Sides of the Debate
Pro-life groups have widely published this study as yet another negative consequence of abortion. Many are calling for the public to challenge the American Psychological Association (APA) to review its stance on abortion. The APA’s report released in 2008 states that abortion presents no mental health problems for women; however, the University of Manitoba is not the first group to show these kinds of results.
Pro-choice supporters, on the other hand, question the methods used in the study and the statistics that are used. For example, it is unclear from the study if the substance abuse took place before or after the abortion, which leads to more questions about the results of the study.
Helping Women on Drugs
Regardless of certain details that should be studied further, it is important to recognize that a relationship does exist between substance abuse and abortion. Abortion clinics and doctors should screen their clients for things like substance abuse. If a patient is under the influence of drugs or desperate to continue using drugs, they may not be in the right frame of mind to be making such a big decision. These people need to know they have other options, and to be encouraged to get help for their drug problem.
Helping Women after Trauma
The link between women that have had abortions and future substance abuse is also important to explore. Many people that go through a traumatic event will turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their mind. Sometimes people that have witnessed some kind of violence or devastation use substances to take the pain away and forget what they experienced. Abortion is not a simple medical procedure. It is traumatic. These women often feel guilt, shame, fear, and desperation from the time they find out they are pregnant to the time they decide to end it. Often this procedure haunts women their whole life, leading to self medication with drugs or alcohol, just as someone that has experienced trauma or violence may do.
Even with the results of studies like the Canadian one under scrutiny, there is some validity to the results, and the topic should be studied further. We should look with an open mind at the real connection between substance abuse and abortion so that we know how best to help these women.