Legal Abortion for Mental Health Indications

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 95, pp. 185-190, 2006

6 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2006

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Adriana Ortega-Ortiz

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Sarah Romans

University of Toronto - Faculty of Medicine; Wellesley College - Center for Research on Women

Lori Ross

University of Toronto - Faculty of Medicine

Abstract

Where legal systems allow therapeutic abortion to preserve women's mental health, practitioners often lack access to mental health professionals for making critical diagnoses or prognoses that pregnancy or childcare endangers patients' mental health. Practitioners themselves must then make clinical assessments of the impact on their patients of continued pregnancy or childcare. The law requires only that practitioners make assessments in good faith, and by credible criteria. Mental disorder includes psychological distress or mental suffering due to unwanted pregnancy and responsibility for childcare, or, for instance, anticipated serious fetal impairment. Account should be taken of factors that make patients vulnerable to distress, such as personal or family mental health history, factors that may precipitate mental distress, such as loss of personal relationships, and factors that may maintain distress, such as poor education and marginal social status. Some characteristics of patients may operate as both precipitating and maintaining factors, such as poverty and lack of social support.

Keywords: Therapeutic abortion, Abortion on mental health grounds, Mental health grounds for abortion, Psychiatric grounds for abortion, Abortion assessments, Legal grounds for abortion, Fetal deformity

JEL Classification: I18, K19

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Ortega-Ortiz, Adriana and Romans, Sarah and Ross, Lori, Legal Abortion for Mental Health Indications. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 95, pp. 185-190, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=944863

Rebecca J. Cook (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Adriana Ortega-Ortiz

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

Sarah Romans

University of Toronto - Faculty of Medicine ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

Wellesley College - Center for Research on Women

United States

Lori Ross

University of Toronto - Faculty of Medicine ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

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