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Abortion "poses mental health risk"

Women may be at risk of developing mental health problems as a result of having an abortion, a leading group of doctors has warned.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has changed its position on how terminating a pregnancy affects women in the face of new evidence.

Until now the college said the risk of psychological problems that come from following through with the pregnancy outweighed those of having an abortion.

But a major review of its position has resulted in a shift that acknowledges for the first time there may be mental health consequences of terminations.

Its position, last reviewed in 1994, stated that the risks of developing mental health for women who have abortions were much less than those who proceed with a pregnancy.

But it now states: "The specific issue of whether or not induced abortion has harmful effects on women's mental health remains to be fully resolved.

"The current research evidence base is inconclusive - some studies indicate no evidence of harm, whilst other studies identify a range of mental disorders following abortion."

The college suggests information leaflets for women considering having abortions may need to include this new advice.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists

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