an After abortion

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NOW: "This fact sheet is currently being updated."
THEN: "Well-designed studies of psychological responses following abortion have consistently shown that risk of psychological harm is low."

The above archived webpage of the American Psychological Association was last seen live on (ironically) Christmas Day, 2005. Its title was "APA Briefing Paper on The Impact of Abortion on Women - The Impact of Abortion on Women: What Does the Psychological Research Say?"

Since at least Jan 11, 2006, that report was gone, and instead the page childishly and breathlessly informed us:

Looks like we've moved some pages around and the one you're looking for no longer exists!

Please select an area from the Popular Areas list below, or visit our homepage, site map, or contact page to find what you are looking for.
Starting April 26, 2006, it suddenly switched from "we've just moved some pages around" to "we're currently updating this page."

They've been "currently updating" it all right--for eight months and counting.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall when, 2 1/2 years ago, I exposed the APA's initial inclusion of abortion as one of several causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, for seven years in its DSM-III-R manual, and then its mysterious, unexplained, unresearched removal of abortion from the DSM's next edition.

I don't like to quote pro-life sources (and I don't--even here--exclusively, note the actual study's journal cite), but this NRLC article is really quite good in reporting the "he said, she said" while I look for non-secular sources to add:
However, the arrival of the large, well-designed New Zealand study by David M. Fergusson in January 2006 [Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J., & Ridden, E.M. (2006. Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(1), 16-24], definitively linking abortion and depression, has thrown pro-abortion groups and their political allies for a loop. Fergusson, who has publicly stated that he is "pro-choice," found that among the young women he studied, "those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance abuse disorders." Fergusson noted that "this association persisted after adjustment for confounding factors." (For a more detailed analysis of Fergusson's study, see the August 2006 edition of NRL News.)

Notable in the "Discussion" section of Fergusson's study is his singling out the APA for criticism. Quoting directly from the APA's Briefing Paper the claim that "well-designed studies ... have consistently shown that the risk of psychological harm is low," Fergusson said, "This relatively strong conclusion about the absence of harm from abortion was based on a relatively small number of studies which had one or more of the following limitations: a) absence of comprehensive assessment of mental disorders; b) lack of comparison groups; and c) limited statistical controls."

To make matters worse for Russo and her APA colleagues, Fergusson chided the group for a statement that "appears to disregard the findings of a number of studies that claimed to show negative effects for abortion." He specifically cited Jesse Cougle, David Reardon, and Priscilla Coleman, who have previously done research on abortion and depression, as well as work by Finnish researcher Mika Gissler, who found higher suicide rates among aborting women.

Russo defended the APA position by arguing, "To pro-choice advocates, mental health effects are not relevant to the legal context of arguments to restrict access to abortion" (Washington Times, 1/21/06). Russo tried to argue that Fergusson's study failed to distinguish between planned and unplanned pregnancies. "There has yet to be a well-designed study,” Russo told the Washington Times, "that finds that abortion itself contributes to increased risk of mental health problems."

Fergusson fired back. "We took into account social background, education, ethnicity, previous mental health, exposure to sexual abuse, and a series of other factors," he said. "It's true we did not take into account specifically whether a pregnancy was wanted or not. However, this limitation is not sufficient grounds for dismissing the results."

The New Zealand study had a ripple effect. It was enough to prompt 15 of Britain's top obstetricians and psychiatrists to send an open letter to the London Times.
On October 27, 2006, these 15 OBs and PSYs wrote:
This research has prompted the American Psychological Association to withdraw an official statement denying a link between abortion and psychological harm.
Withdraw it, they most certainly did.

Where will the National Abortion Federation go for its "facts," now that they can't leave gems like this on their website? "[M]ainstream medical opinions, like that of the American Psychological Association, agree there is no such thing as "post-abortion syndrome."

By the APA's medical definition of a syndrome, they're right--on paper. But the APA was wrong to remove abortion from the DSM in 1994 as a stressor causing PTSD, so even pro-choice folks would have to acknowledge the possibility exists that they're wrong about PAS as a literal syndrome.

The NAF statements also rely on the same 1989 "panel of experts" which in turn spawned the above now-defunct APA Briefing Paper, both of which researcher Fergusson took to the woodshed this year.


What will pseudo-news sites like this do? The NewStandard actually used the defunct APA Briefing Paper as one of its "proofs" and tries to link to the archived webpage in its right sidebar alongside a story about how CPCs were accused by a congressional report of allegedly lying about abortion's harm to women! On July 18, 2006, seven months after the Briefing Paper had been removed from the Internet and the Fergusson study published, this article flatly stated:
The American Psychological Association says that abortions do not cause an increase the likelihood of PTSD or depression. In fact, the PTSD rate is lower for women who have had abortions than women who have not, according to a position paper published on the group's website.

And people still don't believe me when I say we shouldn't believe everything the so-called "news media" gives us?

We didn't see the withdrawal of the APA's faulty briefing paper and the brouhaha around it in the major newspapers. I didn't see this on the major news networks. Not even the little news networks. Did you?

I can't count how many people have called me a liar and worse for years over all this. Now a pro-choice, published, peer-reviewed, qualified, scientific researcher (not the first one such, Dr. Janet Daling was first) stands up to the pro-abortion/pro-choice medical establishment and says, "Hey, all you who dissed David Reardon? You who dissed Dr. Priscilla Coleman? You were dead wrong to do so, chaps and chapettes."

I honest to God wish we were the ones who were wrong. But we're not.

HT goes to reader Susan who tipped me off, the "on hiatus blogger," to the recent, growing storm around this that I'd missed. She asked me if this was the tack the APA would take. As it has apparently since 1969, when it discussed and issued its resolution to see abortion as a woman's "civil right" to feel free to introduce mental trauma to herself:
As an APA Council member, I [Dr. Henry P. David, Transnational Family Research Institute, Bethesda, MD] had joined with the Association for Women Psychologists to introduce a resolution declaring that termination of an unwanted pregnancy was a mental health and child welfare issue, and thus a legitimate concern of APA . The resolution resolved that termination of pregnancy be considered a civil right of the pregnant woman, to be handled as any other medical and surgical procedure in consultation with the woman's physician...
Doesn't that make you as angry as it makes me? That the nation's psychiatric experts knew--in 1969, pre-Roe--it would cause us mental health trauma, distress, call it what you will, and they said, let them do it anyway??

If a "mental health issue" was caused by any. other. reason, and the APA decided to drop it and not advise against subjecting oneself to this cause, they'd be roasted alive. ANY. OTHER.

The amount of scientific data and research it takes to get anything admitted to the DSM as a cause of PTSD or any mental disorder is always quite daunting, as it should be. That's how abortion got in the DSM in the first place: psychiatrists had to have seen the evidence firsthand. This 1999 document describing the work of the 1969 Task Force, however, explains completely how the APA then removed abortion from the DSM within one edition. Someone--somewhere--must have reminded them in no uncertain terms of their 1969 "resolution" to protect abortion.

The image of Pontius Pilat washing his hands comes to my mind.

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