Restricted access to abortion and reproductive healthcare services may have increased the risk of suicide among reproductive-aged women for more than four decades, according to a new study.
The study, which was published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, analyzed the 21 U.S. states that enforced at least one Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law between 1974 and 2016. More than 1300 abortion restrictions, including efforts to prohibit the procedure after 6 weeks of gestational age, have been enacted since 1970.
Researchers found that between 1974 and 2016, the average annual suicide rate among women of reproductive age was nearly 6% higher than years before enforcement of TRAP laws. Denial of abortion services was linked to increased stress and anxiety among women.
Tyler VanderWeele, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, estimated that in 2016, about 127 suicides among reproductive aged women may have been associated with TRAP laws, according to a report accompanying the JAMA study.
VanderWeele noted that the overall rise of suicide rates in states with these restrictions “is cause for clinical concern” and the data “indicate the need for support and for mental health care” beyond what is currently offered in the U.S, per NBC News.
According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among women ages 20-24 and the third leading cause among women ages 25-34.
Despite the study ending in 2016, experts believe the overturn of Roe v. Wade could cause similar impacts on mental health and suicide rates.
“I would expect, from a purely speculative point of view, that the recent Supreme Court decision would have a real individual-level impact on a lot of women in a way that these TRAP laws would not,” Nichole Austin, an assistant epidemiology professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, told NBC.
Back in November, another study found that one in three women of reproductive age in the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii, now live over an hour and a half away from an abortion clinic. Prior to the end of Roe, the average travel time to the nearest abortion clinic was reportedly less than 30 minutes.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.