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Understanding abortion and mental health using existing frameworks in psychology: Seeking new directions in research and clinical practice

Jessica Chavez, The New School for Social Research, 2013

Project abstract

Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, claims that abortion damages women’s mental health have been used to implement abortion regulations in the US. While studies demonstrating that abortion does not lead to negative mental health outcomes have important policy implications, they tend to control for the effects of income and exposure to violence, and in-depth study of abortion experiences among women impacted by these factors is lacking. Moreover, little is known about how available research findings are applied in clinical practice.

This project will investigate qualitative interviews with a multi-ethnic sample of low-income women who have had an abortion, as well as with practicing psychotherapists. This project’s aims are: a) to understand factors that women experience as contributing to pre- and post-abortion mental health and b) to assess approaches to mental health and abortion in psychotherapy practice.

Drawing from methods in feminist and applied policy research, existing frameworks for understanding mental health and abortion will be applied to investigate possible contributions of each, contradictions between them, and implications for reproductive justice.


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