an After abortion

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Shredding The Myths about Abortion’s “Benefits” to Women

Myth #3 (of 15)
, another Q&A from Planned Parenthood’s webpage, “Choosing Abortion - Questions And Answers:”

“Emotional Problems After Abortion?
Serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion are extremely rare and less common than they are after childbirth. Such problems are more likely if…a woman is depressed or already has emotional problems.”
Let me give you 5 research studies and 3 personal stories that shred this myth:

1) Medical Science Monitor, 2003: This study examined National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) data, specifically the records of 1,884 women with a first pregnancy. It also considered if there were any previous psychological problems.

The study found that, at an average of 8 years after the first pregnancies, women who chose abortions were 8% more likely to score in the "high-risk" range for clinical depression than women who gave birth. This was after controlling for age, race, marital status, divorce history, education, income, and previous psychological state. [NLSY is an ongoing nationwide interview-based study conducted by the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State University and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. [9(4): CR105-112].] full text] [This and the later-discussed NLSY results have been adjusted to reflect questions already raised and addressed about this research, as discussed here and here.]

2) Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), May 13, 2003: Another study found that
Psychiatric admissions were more common among women at anytime between 90 days to 4 years after an…abortion, than among those who carried a pregnancy to term.
The risk was “significantly higher.” They reviewed the California Medicaid records of 56,741 women aged 13–49 years at the time of either abortion or childbirth, and only included women with no previous psychiatric admissions or pregnancy events during the year before.

3) From the article, “The Destructive Self-image,” by Daniel Ross, of the New University Newspaper, UC Irvine:
“Maggie Baumann was a young mother in her 30s when she was rushed to the emergency room…After years of hazardously excessive exercise, Maggie’s organs had begun to deteriorate, and her heart was gravely close to cardiac arrest. Five days [later], Maggie visited an eating disorder support group she credits for saving her life.

“…it wasn’t simply Maggie’s dissatisfaction with her appearance that led to her condition. Instead, [she] believes her disorder developed in order to cope with an abortion she had… [She felt that] her rigorous exercise routines were an attempt to escape the guilt she experienced because of her abortion.”
4) & 5) Here are two stories of two women on a drug/alcohol recovery message board, on and around Feb. 07, 2002:
…From my own experience, I’m guessing that you’re feeling more suicidal as a result of the abortion rather than just your husband's absence. About 2 1/2 years ago, I had a [late-term] abortion…which made me all the more torn up inside and anxious. I tried to kill myself a month later and several months after that, I was living in my disease, full-blown.

My behavior…in those times, I feel was a direct result of [my] choice…I’ve [realized] that I had a lot of guilt over [it] and that, even after my suicide attempt failed, I found other ways to attempt the same end: slamming dope, spending time with people I had no stomach for, etc.

I know the pain you’re going through, and I’m dealing with the fallout from it for the first time in my life. Counseling has helped, as has working a [12-step] program…you probably feel as though the turmoil will never end…You don't have to do this alone anymore. The lie is dead...
The other woman wrote back:
I so wanted to have a child, but at the time i felt that I couldn’t face the music…to this day, I’m still sad about it...i‘m actually afraid of going out sometimes. Sometimes i spend time with a girlfriend who’s been through a lot of what I’ve been through and now she’s completely cured by the grace of God. for some reason i feel a sense of comfort with i feel so much anger, resentment, pain, hurt, pour salt in my wound kind of thing, it has been 2.5 months ...i am still suicidal and still popping i've been doing alot of praying on my own…i really need some help or some sort of spiritual touch…I’m literally losing my mind...i’m crying as i type this…
6) American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2002: This study found that women with a prior history of abortion are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use illicit drugs, and ten times more likely to use marijuana during the first pregnancy they actually carry to term, compared to other women delivering their first pregnancies. ["History of induced abortion in relation to substance use during pregnancies carried to term." December 2002; 187(5).]

7) British Medical Journal, Dec. 2001: An earlier look at that NLSY data found that, an average of eight years after abortion, married women were 37% more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression, compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term. However, women having abortions instead of carrying to term in their first marriages were 50% more likely to be in that “high risk range” than those in second or later marriages. [324: 151-152] [This and the above-mentioned NLSY results have been adjusted to reflect the questions already raised about this data, as discussed here and here.]

8) American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2002: A comparison of outpatient mental health claims over 5 years, including records of 173,000 California women, found that women were 63% more likely to receive mental care within 90 days of an abortion, than after giving birth. Also, significantly higher rates of later mental health treatment persisted over the entire four years of data examined. Abortion was most strongly associated with later treatments for neurotic depression, bipolar disorder, adjustment reactions, and schizophrenic disorders." [culled from data about state-funded abortions vs. deliveries; Vol. 72, No. 1, 141-152]

It’s clear that “serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion" are not "extremely rare," are not "less common than they are after childbirth," and don’t happen just when someone is ”already mentally unstable.”

Myth #4 to be shredded tomorrow. I’m posting one a day every day from Oct. 19 through Election Day. Prior myths shredded can be found here and here.

(If anyone wishes to receive an emailed MSWORD document of the talk in its entirety, please just email me (see above right corner of blog).)

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