Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 27 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Vincent de Paul
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

What Really Happens to Women Who Have Abortions?

CC The Eternal Gold Braid

Priscilla K. Coleman - published on 06/19/13

Manifold problems in a recent New York Times article

On June 12 the New York Times published an article by graduate student Joshua Lang, “What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?” Mr Lang is currently enrolled in UC Berkley’s Joint Medical Program, a five-year Master of Science/Medical Doctorate Program. Sadly, Lang’s desire to push a political agenda was apparently the most salient force behind his shoddy piece. Like many before him, Lang tries to dismiss more than 100 peer-reviewed studies revealing an increased risk of mental health problems by focusing on one counter study that has yet to generate any peer-reviewed publications. Lang interviewed me last fall for over an hour and he clearly understood the science.

According to Mr Lang, There is no credible research to support a ‘post-abortion syndrome’, as a report published by the American Psychological Association in 2008 made clear. Yet the notion has influenced restrictive laws in many states.” This statement actually indirectly affirms the strength of the published evidence regarding abortion as a risk factor for mental health problems, because the evidence presented in courts continues to trump the APA conclusions. The vast majority of research studies on the psychological implications of abortion do not address a “Post-Abortion Syndrome”. Instead, researchers examine abortion as a risk factor in mental illnesses that are identified by mainstream professional organizations.

The results of hundreds of studies published in leading peer-reviewed medicine and psychology journals over the past three decades indicate that abortion is a substantial contributing factor to women’s mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This evidence has quite reasonably influenced informed consent legislation in many states. In upholding the South Dakota law in 2012, the US Court of Appeals relied upon this body of data.
A critique of the 2008 APA report is posted at the website of the World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education (WECARE), a group of 10 credentialed scientists working to bring accurate information to a public in dire need of evidence-based facts concerning abortion.

Among dozens of other peer-reviewed studies, Lang ignores the results of a meta-analysis entitled “Abortion and Mental Health: A Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published from 1995-2009” that I published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP) in 2011. Meta-analyses have much more credibility than the results of individual empirical studies or narrative reviews, such as the APA’s 2008 report. In a meta-analysis, the contribution or weighting of any particular study to the final result is based on objective scientific criteria (sample size and strength of effect), as opposed to an individual’s opinion of what constitutes a strong study. The BJP sample consisted of 22 studies and 877,297 participants (163,880 experienced an abortion). Results revealed that women who aborted experienced an 81 percent increased risk for mental health problems. When compared specifically to unintended pregnancy delivered, women were found to have a 55 percent increased risk of experiencing mental health problems. This review offers the largest quantitative estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world.  

Many women who make the decision to abort do so without a thorough understanding of the procedure. A number of peer-reviewed studies have revealed that feeling misinformed or being denied relevant information often precipitates post-abortion difficulties. Moreover, there is considerable evidence that a high percentage of women walking into abortion clinics are conflicted about the choice. In another study I published with colleagues in the Journal of Medical Ethics, we found that 95 percent of a socio-demographically diverse group of women wished to be informed of all possible complications associated with drugs, surgery, and/or other forms of elective treatments, including abortion.

  • 1
  • 2
Tags:
AbortionPro-life
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
2
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
5
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
peace
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.