New Study Claiming Abortion Not Linked With Teen Depression Full of Problems

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 27, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Study Claiming Abortion Not Linked With Teen Depression Full of Problems

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 27
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — A new study bandied about by the mainstream media over the weekend claiming abortion is not linked with teen depression is full of problems, according to one of the world’s leading researchers on abortion and the adverse mental health issues women face afterwards.

Oregon State University and University of California researchers published their study in the Guttmacher Institute journal, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

"Previous research has shown that adolescent girls who get pregnant report more depression and lower self-esteem compared to those who don’t. What we didn’t know was whether psychological outcomes are worse for girls who choose abortion. This study says, ‘No,’" claims lead researcher Jocelyn Warren of OSU.

But Priscilla Coleman, a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green University, tells the study contains several problems.

Coleman says its publication in a journal run by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former arm of the Planned Parenthood abortion business, means the study is "hardly unbiased."

Coleman closely examined the new study and said no conclusions should be drawn from it about teens having abortions and depression because "the sample of women who aborted was very small (69) resulting in limited statistical power."

She says the authors acknowledge the limitations associated with the small sample size on page 234 of their study, saying, “The lack of association between abortion and our outcomes could reflect other factors including insufficient sample size to detect an effect.”

The Bowling Green professor also says the researchers did not appear to properly classify women’s pregnancies or determine if they truly had mental health problems.

"The comparison group could have been unintended pregnancy carried to term since the data is available in ADD Health, but the researchers chose the less appropriate and broader ‘no abortion’ group," she said. "Seeking professional counseling services is a much more valid measure of psychological distress than abbreviated self-report measures, one of which is merely ‘predictive of depression.’"

Coleman says other studies, including those she has published in peer-reviewed medical journals on the issue, show women do face post-abortion problems.

"In a study I published in 2006 using the same data and incorporating unintended pregnancy delivered as the control group, I found significant associations between abortion history and marijuana usage, having received counseling for psychological or emotional problems, and sleep difficulties," Coleman told

The professor also believes the results of the study were thrown off because the researchers did not properly use all of the control variables.

"Very few control variables were employed — despite the fact that ADD Health contains dozens of personal history, personality, relationship, situational, familial, and demographic variables that could have been controlled to isolate the effect of abortion," she said.

Coleman says the "outcome measures were superficial assessments" in that researchers did not use broader means of identifying whether teenagers who had abortions suffered from mental health problems following.

"Specifically, the measure of depression was an abbreviated 9 item scale and self-esteem was measured with only 4 items," she noted.

Coleman published a study confirming the adverse mental health problems women face following an abortion as recently as August.

A new study published in the Journal of Pregnancy found the later a woman has an abortion the more likely it is that she faces mental health risks and is under pressure from a partner or others to have an abortion she may not otherwise want. Women getting later abortions also are more likely to be ambivalent about having an abortion.

The results came from an online survey of 374 women who answered a detailed questionnaire about the circumstances leading to their abortions, their previous mental health history, history of physical or sexual abuse and emotional state following abortion.

The new study also found high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for women having both early and late abortions, with 52 percent of the early abortion group and 67 percent of the late term abortion group meeting the American Psychological Association’s criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD).


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