Abortion and Mental Health Controversy Reignited by New Study

To: Michelle
Subject: Abortion and Mental Health Controversy Reignited by New Study

Abortion and Mental Health Controversy Reignited by New Study

Charge of Bias in Previous Reviews Supported By
New Study Published by Royal College of Psychiatrists

Springfield, IL (September 2, 2011) – Up to 10 percent of mental
health problems among women may be affected by a history of abortion,
according to a new review published by the Royal College of
Psychiatrists in their British Journal of Psychiatry.

Publication of this new review, which included 877,181 women from six
countries, has reawakened accusations that the American Psychological
Associations Task Forced on Mental Health and Abortion deliberately
understated abortion’s mental health risks for ideological reasons.

On the surface, the findings of the new review appear to contradict
the conclusions published by the task force in 2008, which stated that
a “single abortion” of an “unwanted” pregnancy for an “adult” woman
did not “in and of itself” pose significant mental health risks.

According to an expert in the field, Elliot Institute director Dr.
David Reardon, that carefully nuanced conclusion was designed to
obscure rather than clarify the risks of abortion.

“When you study the details of the APA report, you will notice that
they provide only scant information on the statistics reported in each
study,” Reardon said. “And they certainly never lay the findings side
by side as was done in this new meta-analysis.  Still, if you pay
close attention you will find reluctant admissions that certain
subgroups of women are at higher risk.”

For example, the APA review admits that multiple abortions may be
problematic. But it then fails to mention that fully half of all
abortions are second, third or fourth abortions.

Similarly, Reardon notes that the APA recognizes that abortions of
wanted pregnancies, and cases where women feel pressured to abort by
other people, are also clearly problematic. But these cases may
account for 30 to 65 percent of all abortions. Abortions for minors
are also known to be associated with elevated suicide rates.

He said that the APA’s conclusion is misleading precisely because it
is nuanced to describe the minority of abortion cases: those for adult
women, having a single abortion, for whom there is no pressure to

“Reading between the lines, it is actually an admission that the
majority of abortions may be problematic, but it was never reported
that way,” he said.

He added that “regarding the APA’s additional nuance that there is
insufficient evidence to prove that abortion ‘in and of itself’ is the
sole cause of mental illness, proving that any experience is the sole
cause of mental illness is nearly impossible. So framing the issue as
requiring proof that abortion is the sole cause of mental illness sets
an impossibly high standard.

“However, no informed person can deny that abortion can be a
contributing factor which can trigger, aggravate, complicate, and/or
delay recovery from mental illness. To deny this fact would require
you to deny the that women are intelligent, self-aware persons who
know why they are grieving.”

Reardon believes this new review is much more objective and useful for
informing physicians, nurses, mental health care workers, and the
public about what the research really reveals.

“The APA could have and should have used an objective approach like
this one,” he said. “Instead, they deliberately obscured the clear
trend in research findings by employing highly subjective reasons to
dismiss, ignore, or obscure findings which did not mesh with their
preconceived conclusions.

“This new review proves that when you use a standardized method of
laying out the results of all the studies side by side, the trend is

Reardon noted that the reliability of the APA Task Force report is
further called into question by the fact that the task force chair,
Dr. Brenda Major, has refused to allow her own data on abortion and
mental health to be reanalyzed by other researchers.

“This behavior is especially egregious since it violates the APA’s own
ethics rules requiring data sharing,” he said.

He has posted a video that (1) discusses the main findings of the
study, (2) provides a brief tutorial on interpreting the graphs
confidence intervals shown in the study, and (3) describes how the APA
Task Force on Abortion and Mental Health fashioned a very nuanced
statement to summarize its findings in a way that obscured the truth
and ensured misreporting of the evidence by the major media (begins at
the 10 minute mark.)

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