Abortion proponents often use a 2008 Task Force Report from the American Psychological Association as evidence that abortion has no negative consequences on a woman’s mental health. Through selective reporting and other design flaws, the APA concluded in their report that “[t]here is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women.” Interestingly, the report received criticism from both pro-life and pro-choice researchers, but it’s still treated as evidence that abortion has no effect on mental health. A further examination of the APA report reveals a departure from scientific protocol in order to arrive at the desired results.
One of the major flaws in the study is the bias behind the APA’s reporting. The researchers for this study all held strong pro-choice views. This should call into question whether the report was meant to be an honest assessment of scientific information, or if its purpose was merely to confirm the political views of those conducting the study. Unfortunately, the former appears to be the case.
The conclusion reached by the Task Force that there is no greater risk of mental health problems for women who undergo first-trimester abortions than there is for women who carry their unplanned pregnancies to term is based on false reporting. The APA was highly selective in their review of previously published studies, so much so, that the researchers’ definitive conclusion was drawn from one study from England published in 1995.
In an attempt to discredit other abortion studies, the APA Task Force falsely claimed that, “Rarely did research designs include a comparison group that was otherwise equivalent to women who had an elective abortion.”
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, Priscilla Coleman, begs to differ. Coleman has co-authored multiple studies where delivered unintended pregnancies were used as a comparison group. Each of these studies found mental health problems shared a stronger link with abortion than unexpected pregnancies that had been carried to term.
Seven researchers, who authored 50 peer-reviewed articles demonstrating the negative effects of abortion, petitioned Dr. Alan Kazdin weeks after the APA released their report. In their letter to the president of the APA, the researchers raised concerns surrounding the Task Force Report’s dismissal towards evidence gathered by other abortion studies. These seven researchers also pointed out that one out of date studies has never been used to resolve a highly contested issue within public health research before. Concerns were also raised about the views of the authors behind the APA report, as their conclusions about abortion and mental health risks were not the result of an impartial assessment.
However, the APA did not take any public action despite the issues raised within the letter.
The conclusion of the study was also carefully worded, so as to exclude a majority of women who have had abortions. Something that has been glossed over in the media’s reporting of the study is that the APA specified in a summary of their findings that adult women experienced no mental health problems. But the wording of the conclusion suggests the APA is conceding they were unable to disprove the idea that women under 21 experience negative outcomes after an abortion.
Excluded from the study were women who had repeat abortions, even though they account for about half of all abortions. This may be because women who have had more than one abortion tend to experience more ramifications.
Another problem with the wording of the study is that the APA only applied their conclusion to women who terminated an unwanted pregnancy. But the APA did acknowledge that women who felt pressured to undergo an abortion or women who ended a wanted pregnancy experienced negative effects. It should be noted that most women feel “rushed or uncertain” before an abortion, with 67% receiving no counseling beforehand, and 79% reporting they were not informed about alternatives. Up to 64 percent of women have also been reported to have obtained an abortion due to feelings of pressure.
The findings of the APA Task Force relied far too heavily on unreliable reporting methods, and its many design flaws mean its conclusions should not be considered accurate. Women deserve factual information when it comes to abortion, and studies that deviate from accepted scientific practices to obtain their results should not be taken at face value by anyone.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.