How overturning Roe v Wade impacted women‘s mental health


In a recent study, restricted access to abortion and increased travel time to the nearest abortion clinic were associated with increased mental distress in women aged 18 to 44 years.

The overturning of Roe v Wade increased mental distress in women of reproductive age, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open.

On June 24, 2022, Roe v Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), letting states set their own abortion laws. This led the American Psychological Association to express concerns over how this decision would impact the mental health of women in the United States.

To determine how the overturning of Roe v Wade affected women’s mental health, investigators conducted a case-controlled study evaluating secondary, deidentified data. Data was taken from a survey on mental health known as the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey.

Sociodemographic and residential state data was used to match information on the status of state abortion bans, with changes before and after the decision from SCOTUS compared through a difference-in-differences model. 

Along with examining the association between loss of abortion access and mental health, investigators determined if this association was affected by barriers to legal abortion through state-level changes in laws and travel distances.

There were 83,313 female individuals aged 18 to 44 years living in states with restricted abortion access following the overturning of Roe V Wade included in the analysis. Among this population, a significant increase in mental distress was observed in the period after the SCOTUS decision.

A 10% increase in mental distress was observed compared to the period before the SCOTUS decision. Associations were also found with changes in barriers to legal abortion, with a greater increase in mental distress prevalence found in these instances. These associations were not seen in women aged above the reproductive age.

Event-time analyses supported this data, with increased coefficients in the associations of abortion restrictions and increased travel time to the nearest abortion clinic with mental distress in women of reproductive age observed over time.


Dave D, Fu W, Yang M. Mental distress among female individuals of reproductive age and reported barriers to legal abortion following the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(3):e234509. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.4509

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