Researcher: Johns Hopkins Paper Biased on Abortion-Mental Health Issues
by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — One of the foremost experts on the mental health aftereffects of abortion on women says a new paper from researchers at Johns Hopkins University is both deceptive and biased. Dr. Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University says the authors engage in the same tactics as the APA.
Coleman tells LifeNews.com that the JNU paper appears to be, at first blush, a "more sophisticated attempt" to evaluate all of the studies done on abortion and mental issues compared to the biased presentation from the American Psychological Association.
"However, a careful reading indicates that these Johns Hopkins researchers are guilty of only slightly more crafty deception," she adds.
Coleman bases her analysis on four main points.
First, the JHU researchers don’t include any of the major studies showing abortion’s link to subsequent substance abuse problems. While studies show women who have abortions are more at risk than those who don’t of abusing drugs or alcohol, the JHU authors fail to include a single study on the topic in their review.
Coleman calls that "one of the major mental health concerns of women who have aborted and for women in general" but "no explanation is provided for this blatant omission."
Secondly, Coleman says the ranking system the JHU researchers employed ignores two of the most central methodological considerations when conducting reviews of prospective research designs: the percent consenting to participate at baseline and retention of subjects over time.
As Coleman explains, "Obviously when women are more harmed by an abortion they are less inclined to want to continue to participate. Further, women who are suffering from an abortion are likely to have less stable lives and are therefore more likely to be unavailable to be assessed."
The factors are important because if the studies fail to include an appropriate number of women who have abortions then the studies don’t offer a realistic comparison between the effect of an abortion on women and the general population of women.
Meanwhile, the JHU researchers developed five quality indicators to rank each study analyzed from Excellent to Very Poor in terms of its quality.
Coleman says these rankings are arbitrary and subjective and points out that the JHU team never explained how a study was given a certain ranking.
She also tells LifeNews.com that she and her colleagues would disagree with the high rankings JHU authors gave to studies showing no abortion-depression link that she believes were of poorer quality.
"There is no way that several of the studies listed as ‘Very Good’ would have met 4 out of 5 of the quality indicators necessary for the rating if rated by an objective evaluator who was not invested in deriving a conclusion that is consonant with pro-choice ideology," she said.
Coleman also noted that a seminal study that is highly regarded, conducted by pro-abortion New Zealand researcher David Fergusson in 2006, was only listed as "fair" by the JHU team.
Finally, as LifeNews.com previously noted with regard to three new studies that were released this week and show abortion’s link to adverse mental health outcomes, Coleman says the JHU team didn’t include all of the studies it should have to give a proper overall analysis.
"The review ‘missed’ numerous high quality studies that meet their inclusion criteria. The result is an extremely biased selection," she said.
Dr. Coleman pointed to studies from 1994 to 2006 that had been published in prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Acta, and the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that the JHU team failed to include.
Coleman supplied the references to 10 studies that JHU did not include that all found abortion increases the risk of mental health problems for women. Eight of the ten were studies where Coleman did not participate in the research.
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