June 1976

Outcome Following Therapeutic Abortion

Author Affiliations

From the departments of psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(6):725-733. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770060055008

• Psychological outcome of abortion was studied in 102 patients, measuring multiple variables over four time intervals. Five measured affects—anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and shame—were significantly lower six months after the preabortion period. The following variables describe subgroups of patients with significant variations in patterns of responses as indicated by changes in affects: marital status, personality diagnosis, character of object relations, past psychopathologic factors, relationship to husband or lover, relationship to mother, ambivalence about abortion, religion, and previous parity. A complex multivariate model, based on conflict and conflict resolution, is appropriate to conceptualize the unwanted pregnancy and abortion experience. Data suggest that women most vulnerable to conflict are those who are single and nulliparous, those with previous history of serious emotional problems, conflictual relationships to lovers, past negative relationships to mother, strong ambivalence toward abortion, or negative religious or cultural attitudes about abortion.