SIR – I am encouraged to see the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution sought clarity on the mental health effects of abortion from expert witnesses as part of their deliberations.
The best research in this area, as highlighted by Dr Anthony McCarthy when he spoke to the committee, has not found a relationship between having an abortion and developing mental health problems.
An unintended pregnancy in itself is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, and the rates of mental health problems are similar irrespective of whether that pregnancy ends in a termination or in giving birth.
However, I think it is telling that the research does show that women who were exposed to strongly negative attitudes toward abortion are more likely to have long-term mental health problems.
In this era of ‘fake news,’ I hope that the facts win out over myths and misinformation about the purported negative mental health effects of abortion, which are often used as part of the justification for why women should continue to be denied access to safe and legal abortion services in Ireland.
Perhaps, instead, those concerned about women’s mental health should consider the negative impact of a lack of autonomy, being forced to travel abroad for an abortion and the stigma attached to having an abortion.