Healthcare: On the Agenda - DH funds major abortion study

On the agenda

Abortion does not increase the risk of a woman suffering mental health problems, according to the world's largest survey on the issue. The review, funded by the Department of Health, followed suggestions that abortion may adversely affect a woman's mental health.

The review

The review was commissioned by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and carried out by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It is said to be the world's largest, most comprehensive and systematic review into the mental health outcomes of induced abortion.

The outcome

Having an unwanted pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. However, the review concluded that the rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same, whether they had an abortion or gave birth.

PR strategy

The PR was handled by the press office at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. A press briefing attended by health correspondents from the national and medical press was held on 8 December. A press release and copy of the report were issued under embargo for 9 December.

Media coverage

The report was covered extensively, including by the BBC Today programme and across the BBC network, as well as The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph.

44 - The number of studies included in the review

189,574 - The total number of abortions carried out in 2010 in England and Wales*.

*Source: DH.

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