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Pro-lifers decry APA’s denial of link between abortion, depression

WASHINGTON (BP)–Representatives of post-abortion and pregnancy center organizations have denounced a report that asserts there is no trustworthy evidence that a lone abortion causes mental health problems in a woman.

A task force of the American Psychological Association offers that conclusion in a draft report released after what the APA described as a review of studies conducted since 1989.

Women who have experienced and observed the negative impact of abortion found the report difficult to accept, especially after other studies have reported conflicting results.

“It’s a classic case of the abortion lobby’s political and financial interests trumping the truth,” said Janet Morana, a co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, in a written release. The group describes itself as the world’s largest network of women and men hurt by abortion.

“Over 600 post-abortive women asked to meet with the APA about their experiences with abortion and depression,” she said. “The APA brushed them off, just like it dismissed any scientific study that didn’t agree with its agenda.”

The president of Care Net, which serves about 1,100 pregnancy centers in North America, said the task force “completely disregarded credible research that shows abortion increasing the risk of clinical depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The report “flies in the face of what pregnancy centers see every day” — the grief of post-abortive women and men, including 13,000 just in 2006, who go to Care Net centers asking for help, Care Net’s Melinda Delahoyde said in a written statement. “The APA may continue to politicize abortion, but Care Net and its network of affiliated pregnancy centers are committed to providing medically referenced and accurate information about abortion risks to empower women to make informed health decisions.”

The task force decided many of the studies from the last two decades were flawed methodologically, according to the APA.

“The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion or deliver that pregnancy,” said Brenda Major, chair of the task force, in an Aug. 12 written release. “The evidence regarding the relative mental health risks associated with multiple abortions is more uncertain.”

A woman who feels either pressure to abort or a need to hide an abortion from family and friends is more likely to have psychological problems, according to the task force.

A New Zealand researcher whose 2006 study showed abortion increases the risk of severe depression in young women criticized the task force report.

“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,” David Fergusson said, according to LifeNews.com. “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. This is not a defensible position in a situation in which there is evidence pointing in the direction of harmful effects.”

Fergusson’s 2006 study found about 42 percent of women who underwent abortions had suffered major depression within the last four years, a rate almost twice the number of women who had not been pregnant, LifeNews reported.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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