an After abortion

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Monday, February 10, 2003

The American Psychological Association (APA) doesn't acknowledge that abortion can cause emotional distress. For instance, APA official Dr. Brian Wilcox mistakenly told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in January that there is no research suggesting a link between abortion and later emotional distress. However, he was tracked down for that quote by an AJC reporter.

The APA is now experimenting with a more proactive forum for denying that abortion can be a stressful or traumatic event.

In the February 2003 issue of the APA mag "Monitor", we learn that "A task force of APA's Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) recently launched a Web site section that seeks to correct inaccurate information about reproductive health-- abortion, in particular--by featuring research-based literature and scholarly opinions."

Far be it from the APA to allow its opinions to be tainted by politics but the website launched by APA Division 35 is....oops!....part of the highly politicized pro-choice website The Pro-Choice Forum.

Check it out, and you'll find an article by Linda Beckman, a professor of psychology at Alliant International University in California. Beckman chairs the Task Force on Reproductive Issues for the Society for the Psychology of Women (aka Division 35 of the APA). She is quite worried about Silent No More, the new movement where post-abortive women speak out about their negative experiences with abortion.

Beckman writes:

"Georgette Forney, a co-founder of the campaign believes that "very little attention is given to the women who have actually had abortions." Because she regrets having had an abortion she has come to the conclusion that there are millions of women who feel the same way and are suffering in silence about the aftermath of their abortions. It is regrettable that Ms. Forney may have suffered as a result of her abortion. Still she needs to read the reputable research literature on the psychological effects of abortion before she makes incorrect statements about such effects for most women."

Note that "may have suffered".

Ironic that a feminist would diminish another woman by adopting the rhetorical posture of "Honey, we can't trust you to speak accurately even about your own experience, you poor misguided little thing, but even if you were right about that, y'all are in way over your head about the research which only us experts can be trusted to read, understand and correctly interpret."

Unfortunate tone aside, the most important problem with Beckman's article is that it contains a short, highly selective review of the literature on post-abortion trauma that ends in the late 1990s. She thus misrepresents the earlier literature and ignores recent articles in the British Medical Journal, the Southern Medical Journal, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, and the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that indicate a strong statistical correlation between abortion and heightened rates of suicide, psychiatric hospitalizations, mental health treatment, parenting difficulties and substance abuse.

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