Women who have undergone an abortion have an 81 percent higher risk for mental health problems and are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse alcohol and suffer depression, according to a study in a mainstream British journal that is getting considerable attention from both sides of the abortion debate.

The meta-analysis in the latest edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry examined 22 studies from 1995-2009 involving 877,000 women, including 163,000 who had experienced an abortion.

The paper’s author, Priscilla K. Coleman of Bowling Green State University, said there actually are “hundreds of studies” showing a link between abortion and serious mental health risks, and that three recent studies that reached a very different conclusion had major flaws. One of those studies by an American Psychological Association task force received significant media attention and concluded there were no risks.

But Coleman said her analysis shows that abortion “is associated with moderate to highly increased risks of psychological problems.”

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