American Psychological Association Criticized for Pro-Abortion Position

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

American Psychological Association Criticized for Pro-Abortion Position Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 17, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The American Psychological Association is coming under fire for continuing its long-standing position in favor of abortion despite new studies showing abortion causes a host of psychological and emotional problems for women.

The APA adopted a pro-abortion position in 1969, but it was not based on any research showing abortion to be psychologically beneficial for women.

Dr. David Reardon of the Illinois-based Elliot Institute, which examines the effects abortion has on women, says the organization should re-evaluate its position in light of a new study linking abortion to mental illness.

New Zealand researchers tracked 25 years of worth of data on women drawn from one of the largest and most comprehensive longitudinal studies in the world. Led by Prof. David M. Fergusson, who backs legal abortion, the team expected their study to refute others linking abortion to higher rates of mental health problems.

Instead, the team found abortion was clearly linked to elevated rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal behavior.

Reardon says the findings so surprised Fergusson’s team that they began reviewing studies cited by the APA in its claims that abortion is beneficial, or at least non-harmful, to women’s mental health.

They found that the APA’s claims were based on a small number of studies that had severe shortcomings and that the organization is ignoring a number of newer studies showing abortion adversely affects women.

The criticism of the APA has led psychologist and newspaper columnist Warren Throckmorton, in a Washington Times column, to call on the APA to address Fergusson’s criticisms. According to Reardon, he was referred to Nancy Felipe Russo, a researcher who speaks for the APA on women’s issues.

However, Russo, professor in psychology at Arizona State University, is an abortion advocate who tries to use her position in APA to refute pro-life assertions that abortions hurt women.

Russo participated with an APA group in February 2003 in putting together a web site designed to "correct inaccurate information about" abortion put out by pro-life groups.

Russo and two psychology professors co-chaired the panel charged with creating the web site.

In an interview with the APA’s news publication, Russo discounted assertions by pro-life researchers that women who have abortions can suffer from post-abortion syndrome.

"Anti-abortion advocates allege that post-abortion syndrome is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], though no scientific basis exists for applying a PTSD framework to understanding women’s emotional responses to a voluntarily obtained legal abortion," Russo claimed.

When Throckmorton asked Russo to comment on the New Zealand study and the APA criticisms, she indicated the group developed its position on abortion based on ideological and not scientific reasons.

She told Throckmorton the study would not alter APA’s pro-abortion position because "to pro-choice advocates, mental health effects are not relevant to the legal context of arguments to restrict access to abortion."

Throckmorton sent a rough draft of his article to Dr. Reardon for comment and Russo was quoted more bluntly saying "it doesn’t matter what the evidence says." Reardon says that comment was stricken before the Times article was published.

According to Reardon, an author of several of the studies on abortion that have been ignored by the APA, Russo’s statements "confirm the complaint of critics that the APA’s briefs to the Supreme Court and state legislatures are really about promoting a view about civil rights, not science."

"Toward this end, the APA has set up task forces and divisions that include only psychologists who share the same bias in favor of abortion," he explained.

Reardon believes the APA’s task forces on abortion have actually served to stifle rather than encourage research.

"When researchers like Fergusson or myself publish data showing abortion is linked to mental health problems, members of the APA’s abortion policy police rush forward to tell the public to ignore our findings because they are completely out of line with their own ‘consensus’ statements which are positioned as the APA’s official interpretation of the meaningful research on abortion," he said.

TAKE ACTION: APA members or other mental health professionals are encouraged to voice their concerns to: American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
Telephone: (800) 374-2721 or (202) 336-5500. You can email their governance office at [email protected].

Related web sites:
Elliot Institute –