Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Good discussion of the currents of change in the Catholic church that brought us Pope Francis

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James Carroll’s New Yorker article on Pope Francis and his role within the on-going development of the Catholic church is well worth reading. One error in the article: it notes:

And as Francis demonstrated earlier this month in his surprisingly compassionate statement about abortion—an acknowledgment of “the agonizing and painful” decisions involved in a woman’s choice—his starting point is affirmation, not condemnation.

I appreciate the sentiment, but in fact research shows that abortion decisions for most are neither agonizing nor painful. See this PDF from Planned Parenthood, which begins:

For more than 30 years, substantive research studies have shown that legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women. This finding has been reiterated in rigorous reviews of the scientific literature during the last five years.

In 2011, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) in London reviewed all studies about the emotional effects of abortion that had been published in English between 1990 and 2011. Most of the studies in the AMRC’s rigorous, systematic review were conducted in the United States. From the evidence and limitations within this broad range of studies, researchers concluded that

• Unwanted pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of problems with her mental health.

• A woman with an unwanted pregnancy is as likely to have mental health problems from abortion as she is from giving birth.

• A woman with a history of mental health problems before abortion is more likely to have mental health problems after abortion.

• Circumstances, conditions, behaviors, and other factors associated with mental health problems are similar for women following abortion and women following childbirth.

• Pressure from a partner to terminate a pregnancy, negative attitudes about abortion, and negative attitudes about a woman’s experience of abortion may increase a woman’s risk of mental health problems after abortion.

Among its recommendations for further study, the AMRC suggested that researchers focus on the mental health repercussions of unwanted pregnancy rather than on the repercussions of how a woman resolves it (AMRC, 2011). . .

The PDF includes a bibliography of relevant research.

The Guttmacher Institute has an excellent article by Susan Cohen summarizing the research findings around the mental and emotional issues of having an abortion. The article begins:

Most antiabortion activists oppose abortion for moral and religious reasons. In their effort to win broader public support and legitimacy, however, antiabortion leaders frequently assert that abortion is not only wrong, but that it harms women physically and psychologically. Such charges have been made repeatedly for years, but repetition and even acceptance by members of Congress and other high-ranking political officials do not make them true.

Likely because the science attesting to the physical safety of the abortion procedure is so clear, abortion foes have long focused on what they allege are its negative mental health consequences. For decades, they have charged that having an abortion causes mental instability and even may lead to suicide, and despite consistent repudiations from the major professional mental health associations, they remain undeterred. For example, the “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome” that they say is widespread is not recognized by either the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association.

To a considerable degree, antiabortion activists are able to take advantage of the fact that the general public and most policymakers do not know what constitutes “good science” (related article, November 2005, page 1). To defend their positions, these activists often cite studies that have serious methodological flaws or draw inappropriate conclusions from more rigorous studies. Admittedly, the body of sound research in this area is relatively sparse because establishing or conclusively disproving a causal relationship between abortion and subsequent behavior is an extremely difficult proposition. Still, it is fair to say that neither the weight of the scientific evidence to date nor the observable reality of 33 years of legal abortion in the United States comports with the idea that having an abortion is any more dangerous to a woman’s long-term mental health than delivering and parenting a child that she did not intend to have or placing a baby for adoption. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 September 2015 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Medical, Religion, Science

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