Researcher on Abortion-Depression Link Says APA Report Ignores Best Studies

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Researcher on Abortion-Depression Link Says APA Report Ignores Best Studies

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 14
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A New Zealand researcher who is one of the world’s leading experts on the kind of mental health problems women face after an abortion says the new report from the American Psychological Association denying any link flies in the face of the best studies.

Dr. David Fergusson conducted a seminal study in January 2006 that found women who have abortions are more likely to become severely depressed.

The New Zealand study found that having an abortion as a young woman raises the risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Some 42 percent of the women who had abortions had experienced major depression within the last four years after their abortion. That’s almost double the rate of women who never became pregnant. The risk of anxiety disorders also doubled.

According to the study, women who have abortions were twice as likely to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and three times as likely to be addicted to illegal drugs.

Fergusson responded to the new APA report saying the member of the panel that produced it glossed over research like his.

"The APA report, in fact, does draw a very strong and dogmatic conclusion that cannot be defended on the basis of evidence since this evidence is lacking by the admission of the report," he says.

Fergusson says the committee, if it doubted the wealth of research showing women are more likely to suffer from a variety of mental health issue after an abortion, should have concluded that more research is needed.

Instead, the panel claimed no link exists and suggested women could have abortions without the worry of subsequent problems.

"What the Committee has, in effect, said is that until there is compelling evidence to the contrary, people should act as though abortion has no harmful effects," he said. "This is not a defensible position in a situation in which there is evidence pointing in the direction of harmful effects."

Fergusson compared the results of the APA study to officials in the tobacco industry defending their products as healthy.

"Since there is suggestive evidence of harmful effects it behooves us to err on the side of caution and commission more and better research before drawing strong conclusions," he said.


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