Calling for a Psychiatric Analysis on the Mental Health Implications of Roe v Wade


This new draft of a Supreme Court opinion will have a drastic impact on the country’s mental health.

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My planned topic for today on neurodiversity had to be shelved once I heard of the unprecedented release of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the abortion law of Roe v Wade. Given that it is a draft, that provides some more time to digest and respond to its implications. I call on organized psychiatry to make a detailed study about it, and to report their findings ASAP.

Actually, I had previewed this development months ago, back on December 6, 2021, when I wrote the 47th column in this series on “Psychiatric and Personal Reflections on Abortion.” In that prior column, I went back to my time as a psychiatric resident in the early 1970s before Roe v Wade was passed to get a little perspective on what it was like without that law. I did evaluate pregnant women for whether abortion was necessary for their mental health, including suicide risk. I recommended abortion for all.

My mental health analysis at the time was not only about the mental health of the would-be mothers, but their upcoming children if abortion was not done. Whatever data was available at the time for my supervisor and myself suggested that unwanted babies would already have developing obstacles to their mental well-being while in the womb.

Sometimes, there were specific cases of pregnancy due to rape or incest. Those situations seemed even clearer to me. Trauma to the women was often added on, though that was before our understanding of posttraumatic disorders.

Before that, in medical school, I had also begun to investigate the psychological implications of the developing fetus when the mother was under undue stress. Again, the implications seemed worrisome for future well-being, but more formal research needed.

In the prior article, I reviewed the most recent statements on abortion by the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. Those came from 2018. Those need to be updated, even if it turns out that they are still sufficient. Silence would be implicit acceptance of the mental health draft implications of the Supreme Court draft.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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