Let's Not Pretend that Abortion Doesn't Hurt

September 24, 2015 09:00 AM

By Nicole M. King

The News Story - Lady Parts Justice D.C. wants to talk about abortion often and unapologetically

Even as the Congressional hearings over Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts [began recently], a group of women in Washington, D.C., is seeking to change the conversation around abortion.

The new D.C. chapter of New York based non-profit Lady Parts Justice titled their first event, held August 28, “Postcards from the Vag: A Frank and Funny Storytelling Show About Abortion.” Hundreds of women came to see “Eunice, a uterus-shaped puppet with Fallopian tubes for ears” and to hear nine women discuss their own experiences of abortion in a non-judgmental manner. Said one of the organizers, “The stigma of abortion is that it's something that you don’t talk about, and that you spend time mourning and crying. That's not the reality of it for everyone.” She then admitted that she wasn’t exactly “running through a field of flowers laughing” after her own abortion.

But with its “emphasis on inclusivity, humor, and social media,” LPJ seems bound and determined to forget that the experience of not “running through a field of flowers laughing” seems to be far more typical of women post-abortion than is joking with a uterus-shaped puppet.

The New Research - The dark shadow of abortion

For more than 40 years, feminist activists have been congratulating themselves on having won for American women a nearly unfettered right to abortion. That these activists ignore the unborn lives snuffed out has deeply troubled many Americans. But new research is raising troubling questions even for Americans willing to focus exclusively on the well-being of the women who seek abortions.

Recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, a study conducted by researchers at Christchurch Health and Development Study indicates that when young women abort their unborn children, they often subsequently suffer from a range of serious psychological problems. Examining data collected from 520 New Zealand young women for the first 25 years of their lives, the Christchurch scholars adduce evidence that “young women reporting abortions had elevated rates of mental health problems when compared with those becoming pregnant without abortion.” The litany of psychological problems associated with abortion includes “depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours, and substance use disorders.”

The association between abortion and psychological vulnerability persists in statistical models that take into account differences in psychological history and disparities in economic and social circumstances. The researchers interpret the persistence of this linkage as strong evidence of “a possible causal linkage.” Further statistical analysis clarifies the direction of causation, with the data indicating that “abortion leads to increased risk of mental health problems.” The data do not support the view that “mental health problems lead to increased risk of abortion.”

The Christchurch scholars acknowledge that their findings are “inconsistent” with a statement published by the American Psychological Association (APA) assuring Americans that “risk of psychological harm is low” for women who undergo abortions. However, the Christchurch scholars complain that the APA’s “relatively strong conclusion about the absence of harm from abortion was based on a relatively small number of studies which had one or more . . . [methodological] limitations.” Underscoring their skepticism with regard to the APA’s assurances, the Christchurch scholars find it “difficult to disregard the real possibility that abortion amongst young women is associated with increased risk of mental health problems.” 
 
Source: Bryce J. Christensen, “New Research,” The Family in America, February 2007, Vol. 21 Number 2. Study: David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, and Elizabeth M. Ridder, “Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47 [2006]: 16-24.

Nicole M. King is the managing editor of The Howard Center’s quarterly journal, The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy, the United States’ leading journal of family-policy research.

This article was originally republished with permission from The Family in America, a publication of The Howard Center. The Howard Center is a MercatorNet partner site, which has given permission to republish this article. It can be found at mercatornet.com/family_edge/view/lets-not-pretend-that-abortion-doesnt-h​urt/16834.

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