Medical Journals Rejected Abortion-Despression Study Researcher Says

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Medical Journals Rejected Abortion-Despression Study Researcher Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 4, 2006

Christchurch, New Zealand ( — Professor David Fergusson backs abortion, but when he conducted a research study showing women who have abortions are significantly more likely to suffer from severe depression, he says a handful of medical journals refused to publish his report.

Fergusson’s study of 1,265 children born in the 1970s traced women and their pregnancy decisions. Of those having abortions, twice as many women were likely to suffer from severe depression compared to those who had never been pregnant and they were 35 percent more likely to be depressed than those who carried a pregnancy to term.

"Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders," said the researchers, whose study has been published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

However, Fergusson told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that other medical journals, which he did not name, refused to publish the results. That’s unusual for Fergusson, who has had other studies appear in a variety of leading publications.

"We went to four journals, which is very unusual for us — we normally get accepted the first time," he said.

Fergusson told the Herald he knew of the "circus" that could result from the study but he said it would be "scientifically irresponsible" to not publish the results even though they are controversial.

Other studies have confirmed that women who have abortions suffer numerous physical and mental health problems, but Fergusson said he’s disappointed that more hasn’t been done to chronicle how abortion affects women.

"The fact is that abortions are the most common medical procedure that young women face — by the age of 25, one in seven have had an abortion — and the research into the costs and benefits have been very weak," he told the New Zealand newspaper.

"It verges on scandalous that a surgical procedure that is performed on over one in 10 women has been so poorly researched and evaluated, given the debates about the psychological consequences of abortion," he added.

Fergusson said he’s already received criticism from groups that support abortion, but he said no one can say he was biased in favor of the pro-life viewpoint because of his pro-abortion views.

"I’m pro-choice but I’ve produced results which, if anything, favor a pro-life viewpoint," he explained. "It’s obvious I’m not acting out of any agenda except to do reasonable science about a difficult problem."

Fergusson defends his study saying it suggests more should be done to determine how abortion causes women emotional anguish.

"Our study is strongly suggestive of a link between abortion and developing mental illness," he concluded. "What people should be saying is, ‘This is interesting … we need to invest more to answer this important question’."

Professor Fergusson plans a followup study next year asking more detailed questions about the women who had abortions.