Friday, December 5, 2008

Post-Abortion Syndrome: Yea or Nay?

As you may or may not have heard, there was a recent meta-analytical study that has occurred pertaining to the post-abortion syndrome and literature involved in the subject. It wasn't favorable.
Despite unclear evidence on such a phenomenon, adverse mental health outcomes of abortion have been used as a rationale for policy-making. [ain't that the truth] We systematically searched for articles focused on the potential association between abortion and long-term mental health outcomes published between January 1, 1989 and August 1, 2008 and reviewed 21 studies that met the inclusion criteria. We rated the study quality based on methodological factors necessary to appropriately explore the research question. Studies were rated as Excellent (no studies), Very Good (4 studies), Fair (8 studies), Poor (8 studies), or Very Poor (1 study). A clear trend emerges from this systematic review: the highest quality studies had findings that were mostly neutral, suggesting few, if any, differences between women who had abortions and their respective comparison groups in terms of mental health sequelae. Conversely, studies with the most flawed methodology found negative mental health sequelae of abortion.
Rather telling. Of course, since it was just a study of the quality of previous studies, rather than actual research to give evidence to the contrary, it isn't that worldshaking. But, didn't stop pro-lifers from sloppily pouncing all over it.
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."

Because those studies weren't relevant, and substance abuse, in the absence of any other indications of mental health problems, is a tangential issue.

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."


Interesting objections. But, by this logic, there is no way of disproving the existence of these women, because they are (conveniently) completely unwilling to affirm their existence to anyone for a period of extended scrutiny. They are like phantoms, apparently; that is the extent of their psychological damage. I'll admit, though, that your objections are fair, and similar problems would conceivably exist among populations of any person with some form of post traumatic stress, or who had been a victim of a crime (rape victims specifically). It would be interesting to see whether these factors were relevant.

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.

Another good point, actually. A lot in the realm of psychology is subjective, even if you toss in numbers to make it seem otherwise, but I would like to see what criteria they had for each to attain a given rating.

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.

Do you have any objective evidence of your subjective claim that objective evaluators would side with your assess
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.
Oooo. Do I get a study to dissect now?
Fergusson's study of 1,265 children born in the 1970s traced women and their pregnancy decisions. Of those having abortions, twice as many women were likely to suffer from severe depression compared to those who had never been pregnant and they were 35 percent more likely to be depressed than those who carried a pregnancy to term.

1. No details about how sampling occurred (i.e. whether socioeconomic backgrounds and religious backgrounds were varied). [Apparently, according to this link, all subjects were born in Christchurch, New Zealand...hell of a random sample...]
2. You already mentioned dropout rates, so that would be interesting information here. [Turns out, only 500 stayed on board, link above].
>3. How were they "traced", and could it not just be that those with such a depression or proclivity for depression is somehow the cause of the abortion, rather the caused by it? Or some other such circumstance which happens to be the reason why we say that "correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation". [He says elsewhere that this was accounted for, but I have yet to find anywhere that mentions how. Let alone anywhere presenting the abstract and such].
4. He is dealing with women who got pregnant and had abortions from an age interval of 15 to 25 (and measures them for depression and suicidal the last time before ending the study at age 21) . There are going to be other factors going on for women who got pregnant that young, including the stress of getting pregnant to begin with.

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.
And, as it turns, one is the previous paper, and one of the others is one of Coleman's own papers.

The purpose of this study was to examine associations between abortion history and a wide range of anxiety (panic disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, Agoraphobia), mood (bipolar disorder, mania, major depression), and substance abuse disorders (alcohol and drug abuse and dependence) using a nationally representative US sample, the national comorbidity survey. Abortion was found to be related to an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems (panic attacks, panic disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression with and without hierarchy), and substance abuse disorders after statistical controls were instituted for a wide range of personal, situational, and demographic variables. Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders. Future research is needed to identify mediating mechanisms linking abortion to various disorders and to understand individual difference factors associated with vulnerability to developing a particular mental health problem after abortion.
Association being the operative word in all that. I cannot believe that there major complaint is simply that the overlooked some New Zealand papers and Coleman's pet projects. Oh well. It isn't important anyway...

18 comments:

pboyfloyd said...

"Some are happy, some are sad!"

steve ertelt said...

The review failed to include three new studies all showing abortion leads to significant mental health problems for women.

Last week, Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, and her colleagues published a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showing the link exists. http://www.lifenews.com/nat4617.html


The research team found induced abortions result in increased risks for a myriad of mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders.

The number of cases of mental health issues rose by as much as 17 percent in women having abortions compared to those who didn't have one and the risks of each particular mental health problem rose as much as 145% for post-abortive women.

For 12 out of 15 of the mental health outcomes examined, a decision to have an abortion resulted in an elevated risk for women.

"What is most notable in this study is that abortion contributed significant independent effects to numerous mental health problems above and beyond a variety of other traumatizing and stressful life experiences," they concluded.

Earlier this week, researchers at Otago University in New Zealand reported their findings in the British Journal of Psychiatry and found that women who have abortions have an increased risk of developing mental health problems. http://www.lifenews.com/int1008.html


The study found that women who had abortions had rates of mental health problems about 30% higher than other women. The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Abortions increased the risk of severe depression and anxiety by one-third and as many as 5.5 percent of all mental health disorders seen in New Zealand result from women having abortions.

A third study, from a team at the University of Queensland and published in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, found women who have an abortion are three times more likely to experience a drug or alcohol problem during their lifetime. http://www.lifenews.com/int1012.html

The study showed that women who had experienced an abortion were at increased risk of illicit drug and alcohol use compared with women who had never been pregnant or who gave birth.

GearHedEd said...

"Calculation of population attributable risks indicated that abortion was implicated in between 4.3% and 16.6% of the incidence of these disorders."

Draw the Venn Diagram of those stats and it looks pretty much like random coincidence. What were the conclusions of the studies? I didn't have the time to read through them.

GearHedEd said...

"The study found that women who had abortions had rates of mental health problems about 30% higher than other women. The conditions most associated with abortion included anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders."

Did the study say whether the mental health issues were "caused by" or "pre-existing" in these women? Seems to me that women of questionable or fragile mental health might have a greater incidence of abortions BECAUSE OF their mental state before getting pregnant, not the other way around.

Religious commentators are as aware of the susceptibility of statistical manipulation to support their a priori conclusions as any other 'wordsmiths'.

pboyfloyd said...

"increased risks ..and the risks of each particular mental health problem rose... an elevated risk... at increased risk.."

You must be kidding.

What is the 'risk' of the average woman having problems?

Isn't there a risk that a woman having an abortion against the would-be father's will would change their relationship forever!
(little b brian from D'Souza blog leaps to mind).

Isn't there a risk that the girl/woman who had an abortion against her MOTHER and/or FATHER and/or PASTOR and/or anyone she considered 'authority', isn't there a RISK that relationships changed FOREVER might cause some women to be 'at risk'?

Then there's the drug and alcohol abuse. What alcoholic/drug addict wouldn't LOVE to be able to point to an 'absolving' reason, "Hey, you can't blame me, I didn't know the 'risk' of having an abortion!(so there!)

Gee, now alky and druggie GUYS are being handed this crutch too. "I can't help it, every time I think of my poor kid being flushed before it had a chance to be BORN even!"

Be honest, aren't all pro-life Christians pre-traumatized by the thought of girls having abortions?

I'm guessing a lot of those same broads are pre-traumatized by the thought of abusive men too!

And rapists!(just the thought)

Life not working out 'right', the HORROR!

Mr. Right turned her down!("I'm worthless!)

((THEN she gets herself preggo by HIM and either has the abortion to spite HIM or finds out that he's not going along with the 'program'!))

How does a study cut through all this crap!?

Did they water-board(not torture, we hear) these women to make them confess all their secret manipulations, or were they happy to take the results at face value?

pboyfloyd said...

"As the founder and Editor of LifeNews.com, Steven Ertelt has provided timely pro-life news to the pro-life community across the country and around the world for more than thirteen years."

Hey, Steve-baby, don't you think that you might be a 'tad' BIASED!

Asylum Seeker said...

Wait...what? I'm pretty sure I mentioned most of ertelt copied from his blog...at least in an abbreviated form (it was 2 a.m., and I had already gone through 4 articles for what, is for all intents and purposes, relatively insignificant issues, so I might have cut corners). I must say, the sheer number of studies getting the same correlation is impressive. But it's just that: a correlation. And none of those studies tell us how they have ruled out other extraneous variables (though some claim that they did, they didn't say how).

Anyway:
Did the study say whether the mental health issues were "caused by" or "pre-existing" in these women? Seems to me that women of questionable or fragile mental health might have a greater incidence of abortions BECAUSE OF their mental state before getting pregnant, not the other way around.

Some studies did claim to have dealt with that (the one that was a longitudinal study of 1200 Christchurch, New Zealand women which only had 500 stay on board). Not sure about all of them.

Be honest, aren't all pro-life Christians pre-traumatized by the thought of girls having abortions?

LOL. More or less. That's one of the things that would be interesting to look into: what these people who suffer distress of any form after an abortion have as their position on abortion. Cognitive dissonance may be a major factor, if the trend actually exists, of course.

Asylum Seeker said...

He may be biased, but, really, who isn't?

pboyfloyd said...

Like I say though ED, if we can imagine that soldiers who DIDN'T WANT to be in battle or, conversely, in high-stress police action or EITHER/BOTH becoming traumatized to the point of drug/alcohol abuse etc., surely we can imagine women getting stuck between a rock(not wanting a child) and a hard place(the abortion being 'not what they expected'),(their guilt that they KNEW they'd be having for 'natural' AND/OR 'supernatural' reasons) PLUS the 'sense' that it was BOTH the 'right thing for them' and 'a wrong thing'(and I could go on and on sometimes in circles) makes it IMPOSSIBLE to take all factors into account!

Perhaps some traumatized soldiers, post-abortion women, just WANT to be pitied, just WANT to be the focus of attention!

Seems that these people are looking for an outside source of justification(for their personal feelings about 'it') and blame!

Both blame the system(warmongers), the availability of abortion, whatever it takes.

But 'I' can imagine the traumatized being scape-goated, shot as cowards, condemned as 'murderers', a mirror being held up to them shining their own guilt/remorse/bad choice(for themselves and their choices), for joining the army in the first place or for HAVING that abortion.(if it were to be made illegal, the objective of the 'studies', yes?).

Christian pro-lifers can't lose here. No guilt, they are MONSTERS, plenty guilt, WIMPS, reason to criminalize BOTH and prosecute them to the full extent of GOD'SLAW!

Death by GOD'SLAW!(Oh, I thought you said, "Death by coleslaw!" I was thinking, 'the faster I'm outta this 'looney-bin' the better!)

pboyfloyd said...

Finally, I stand by my original post, "Let the music play!"

The pro-lifers are just trying to use science(which they normally don't trust or want to understand) as a 'club' against pro-choicers.

Let the music play, indeed! I've heard this 'tune' BEFORE!

Are we going to be swayed by a percentage of the approx. 300,000 Catholic women-who-HAD-an-abortion in SPITE of their religious belief, and, 'who-woulda-thunk-it', NOW suffer from the trauma of this dilemma they've put themselves through.

This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for them and the one's pushing these studies(perhaps 'sufferers' themselves!).

How disingenuous! Nevertheless, NOW they get to BLAME secular law, as if that is some kind of 'unexpected surprise' to us all.

GearHedEd said...

I have a small amount of experience with abortion (and, as fate would have it, some time in the army, too!) What I don't have is first-hand experience of either.

Listen: My (most recent) ex-wife had two abortions as a teenager before we met. Seems she was under some delusion that she was ready to be married when she was 14. At the time (so she said when she still lived with me), she was smoking pot and drinking, along with some other self-destructive behaviors (if you'd called her "chicken", she'd do her damnedest to prove you wrong-I've seen the scars). In any case, she let any guy who came along in those days have a go at her if he said he loved her, or if he said he wanted to marry her (guys can tell what a girl wants to hear, and teenage boys will say anything to get the prize). So she got pregnant and engaged twice in high school (not necessarily in that order), and when little Johnny Dumbass found out she was knocked up, he poggled off to find another girlfriend.

Enter her dad. He paid for the abortions. Then after my ex's older brother drowned (as in "dead"), said entire family started attending the local Pentecostal Church of GAWD, and mumbling in the aisles.

When I met her, I was busy getting divorced from ex #2, and I didn't find out about the abortions until after the wedding (when she was 6 1/2 months pregnant with our daughter ("...I shall call her Mini-Me")).

In short, she created her own problems, tried to blame it all on everyone else, and ultimately was a shitty excuse for a wife and mother. Ask her kids that didn't get aborted, they'll tell you so.

GearHedEd said...

Clarification:

When I said I don't have first-hand experience re: the army, I meant that I didn't ever see combat, so I don't suffer from PTSD.

Continue.

GearHedEd said...

steve ertelt said,

"The research team found induced abortions result in increased risks for a myriad of mental health problems ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders."

...and ALL of those women were happy, healthy, and well-adjusted Christians before the abominable event?

Yeah, right.

Asylum Seeker said...

"When I said I don't have first-hand experience re: the army, I meant that I didn't ever see combat"

Wondered what you meant by that (but this is what I assumed).

As for you ex...the risk taking (including sexual risks) seems to indicate slight tendencies towards a borderline personality disorder. As for blaming everyone else for their own problems: that's just how a lot of people function. Going into the Pentecostal [i.e. crazy] church, though...that's whole 'nother level of problems.

"Seems that these people are looking for an outside source of justification(for their personal feelings about 'it') and blame!"

That's probably a factor. This raises the important question of how much weight we should give to those "personal feelings", and whether the cause of those feelings are to blame, or the person themselves bring the feelings upon themselves with comparatively little provocation.

"This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for them and the one's pushing these studies(perhaps 'sufferers' themselves!).

How disingenuous! Nevertheless, NOW they get to BLAME secular law, as if that is some kind of 'unexpected surprise' to us all."

Heh. Good assessment.

GearHedEd said...

Song of the Day:

Disposable Teens

Richelle said...

the study said that women who had abortions were 35% more likely to suffer from depression than women who carried their children to term, but what percentage of those women who carried to term had planned pregnancies?

i would imagine the likelihood for women to become depressed from an unplanned pregnancy is going to be higher than that of a woman who has a planned pregnancy regardless of whether she had an abortion or carried a child to term.

so simply looking at women who carried to term as a whole and comparing then to women who had abortions (a great majority of whom had unplanned pregnancies, i would imagine) doesn't really tell us much.

the same thing would need to be asked about the women who had the abortions. were they the result of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies or were they aborted because of medical risks?

and even if the results did find any particular correlation, correlation does not equal causation and it could be possible that there are way to many variables to make a determination either way.

bottom line, even if abortion does increase the risk for a woman to become depressed that should have nothing to do with women having the right to choose. these women have a choice to make and in making such a decision they are prepared to live with the consequences of that choice. if they become depressed they can see a therapist to try to overcome that.

if the results of a study done on college students found that freshman attending colleges more than 300 miles away from their hometown were 40% more likely to suffer from depression should we no longer allow kids to attend colleges more than 300 miles away from home? no, of course not. it is their decision and they should be allowed to deal with the implications of whatever choice they make like adults.

Asylum Seeker said...

"i would imagine the likelihood for women to become depressed from an unplanned pregnancy is going to be higher than that of a woman who has a planned pregnancy regardless of whether she had an abortion or carried a child to term.

so simply looking at women who carried to term as a whole and comparing then to women who had abortions (a great majority of whom had unplanned pregnancies, i would imagine) doesn't really tell us much."

Well put.

Also, is it odd that I've never heard that song, Ed? Favorited.

pboyfloyd said...

I like this thought process Richelle.

Eating lots makes fat people fatter.

Therefore we really ought to legislate eating habits!

In the end everyone will be free, "We can FORCE you to be free!"

And.. and.. as with religion, which takes both sides of any argument if possible, "How dare you(if you're overweight) allow your chubby self to continue eating badly! Shouldn't I be free to NOT look at overweight people!?"

Trouble with Christians(our 'friendly neighborhood theists'), as soon as they 'smell' sarcasm, just THAT, somehow negates any 'point' however valid!