Johns Hopkins Researcher Responds to Criticism on Abortion-Mental Health Study

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Johns Hopkins Researcher Responds to Criticism on Abortion-Mental Health Study

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 9
, 2008

Balitmore, MD ( — The lead author of a study last week denying that abortion increases the risk of subsequent mental health problems for women is responding to criticism of his research. Johns Hopkins University professor Robert Blum specifically responded to articles taking the study to task.

Blum’s team at JHU examined numerous studies and drew the conclusion that abortion doesn’t increase the risk for mental health problems. interviewed Bowling Green State University professor Priscilla Coleman, whose own research shows women having abortions are more likely to suffer from depression or abuse drug or alcohol.

Another critique of the JHU study came from Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, who noted that Blum is a former president and board member of the Alan Guttmacher Institute and that his team has previously received funds from Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

Blum called news articles "inaccurate" and labeled them "personal attacks."

He cited "Colman’s criticism of lack of inclusion that we did not include three articles that were published this week (pretty tough to do in a paper that was published before those articles came out)."

However, Coleman did not criticize Blum for failing to include the recent studies that all showed abortion presented women with future mental health problems.

She based her criticisms on the poor methodology employed by the JHU team. Coleman also mentioned 10 studies that Blum’s team would have had access to at the time of his review that all show the abortion-mental health problem link.

"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.

In his email to, Blum admitted that his team cherry-picked the 21 studies they used and left out several hundred others — in an analysis that clearly put the conclusion ahead of the research and evaluation.

"We reviewed nearly 700 to come up with the 21 we reviewed in depth," Blum admitted.

"Why do you persist with using personal attacks rather than addressing the science," he asked, though it clearly appears Blum failed to do the science justice by omitting studies showing abortion causing problems.

Blum’s email to offers no response to Coleman’s criticisms concerning the ranking system the JHU researchers employed that ignored the percent consenting to participate at baseline and retention of subjects over time.

He also did not respond to criticism of the five arbitrary quality indicators used to rank each study and the lack of an explanation for the indicators or how they were used or why he ranked highly studies that dismissed the abortion-mental health link that were of poor research quality.

Blum also challenged Perkins’ contentions of Blum and his teams involvement in and support from pro-abortion groups.

"The study was not funded at all by Planned Parenthood" and "I have never received even one penny of funding from Planned Parenthood," he claimed.

Blum mentioned that "Guttmacher is completely independent of Planned Parenthood" but that was not always the case.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute was found in 1968 as the research arm of Planned Parenthood and named for a former president of the abortion business. AGI broke away from Planned Parenthood in 1977.

The group’s own web site admits that Guttmacher "was originally constituted as a semiautonomous division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America" and that its founder and president "was PPFA’s president for more than a decade until his death in 1974."

The organization, of which Blum is a former president and current board member, supports legal abortions both in the United States and worldwide.

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