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Researchers debunk study linking abortions to mental health issues


“Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and The Guttmacher Institute debunked a 2009 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research linking abortions to mental health issues.

In a press release Monday morning, the editor of the journal agreed with the new analysis that found fundamental analytical errors in the study. UCSF’s Julia Steinberg and Guttmacher’s Lawrence Finer sent the editor a letter in the March 2012 edition of the journal, chastising the original study’s top figure, Priscilla Coleman, and her colleagues’ work for fundamental analytical errors.

“This is not a scholarly difference of opinion, their facts were flatly wrong,” Steinberg said. “This was an abuse of the scientific process to reach conclusions that are not supported by the data. The shifting explanations and misleading statements that they offered over the past two years served to mask their serious methodological errors.

Anti-abortion activists have cited Coleman’s research as helping in their propaganda, with the faulty information also spread by federally and state-funded crisis pregnancy centers.”


(Source: reproductivelyjust, via womanistgamergirl)

Are You In The Know? [Abortion Edition]

[These statistics are entirely cis-centric, unfortunately.]

Abortion Incidence:

  • How many abortions occur each year worldwide? More than 40 million abortions are performed worldwide each year. More than 85% of all abortions occur in developing countries.[30]
  • Are women in developed countries more likely to have an abortion than women in developing countries? A woman’s likelihood of having an abortion is similar whether she lives in a developed or developing country. Each year, there are 24 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in developed countries, compared with 29 per 1,000 in developing countries.[30] At the regional level, the lowest abortion rate in the world is in Western Europe (12 per 1,000), and the highest is in Eastern Europe (43 per 1,000).
  • How many abortions occur each year in the United States? There were roughly 1.2 million abortions performed in 2008, and the abortion rate was 20 per 1,000 women aged 15–44.[31] Put differently, about 2% of American women aged 15–44 had an abortion that year.
  • How does the U.S. rate of abortion compare with the worldwide rate? Worldwide, there are about 28 abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44).[30] In the United States, there are about 20 abortions per 1,000 women.[31]
  • How likely is it that a U.S. woman will obtain an abortion in her lifetime? Barring any changes in the U.S. abortion rate (as of 2008), 30% of women will have an abortion by age 45; 25% of women will have an abortion by age 30; and 8% by age 20.[32]
  • Is abortion becoming more or less common in the United States? Less common. The overall U.S. abortion rate declined steadily between 1980 and 2005.[31] However, between 2005 and 2008 that overall decline stagnated, while rates increased among poor women.[32]
  • How many abortions occurred before the procedure became legal throughout the United States in 1973? Estimates of the annual number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s range from 200,000 to 1.2 million.[33] Because the procedure was illegal under most circumstances in most states, women had few options aside from a dangerous, clandestine procedure. As late as 1965, illegal abortions accounted for an estimated 201 deaths in the United States—17% of all officially reported pregnancy-related deaths that year.[34]

Safety of Abortion:

  • How safe is abortion? When performed under proper medical conditions by trained personnel in a hygienic setting, abortion is an extremely safe procedure. Fewer than 1% of all U.S. abortion patients experience a major complication and the risk of death associated with abortion is 10 times as low as that associated with childbirth. (34)  However, when the procedure is performed by an unskilled person, or in an environment not conducive to safe medical circumstances, it is considered unsafe. The risk of death associated with unsafe abortion worldwide is 30 deaths per 100,000 live births.[35]
  • Are most abortions safe or unsafe? Almost half of all abortions that occur worldwide—about 22 million in 2008—are unsafe.[35] Between 2003 and 2008, the global unsafe abortion rate remained unchanged at 14 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. The highest rate of unsafe procedures—36 per 1,000 women—was in Eastern and Middle Africa.
  • How does the rate of unsafe abortion in developing regions compare with the rate in developed regions? The rate of unsafe abortion in developing regions is 16 times that in developed regions.[35] Unsafe abortions are rare in developed regions because the procedure is widely legal and therefore likely to be performed under safe conditions; in developing regions, where abortion is largely illegal, more than half of all abortions are unsafe.[30]
  • How harmful is unsafe abortion? Complications from unsafe abortion account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, some 47,000 annually.[35] An estimated five million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications.[36]
  • How many abortion-related deaths are there in the United States each year? In 2007, six women in the United States were reported to have died as a result of abortion complications.[37]
  • Does abortion lead to mental health problems for women? For two decades, the highest quality scientific evidence available has led to the conclusion that having an abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.  A woman’s mental health before she faces an unwanted pregnancy is the best indicator of her likely mental health after an abortion. [38]

Medication Abortion In The United States:

  • What is medication abortion? Medication abortion, an alternative to surgical abortion, involves the administration of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, to terminate the pregnancy. Medication abortion is an option only in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
  • How common is medication abortion in the United States? Medication abortion has become an integral part of U.S. abortion care. In 2008, medication abortion accounted for slightly more than one-quarter of all abortions performed before nine weeks’ gestation.[31]
  • How many U.S. providers offer medication abortion? In 2008, almost six in 10 U.S. abortion providers (more than 1,060 facilities), provided medication abortions.[31] At least 9% of providers offered only medication abortion services.
  • Has medication abortion expanded access to abortion in the United States? Because it does not involve surgery, medication abortion has the potential to make abortion services more accessible, particularly in areas without a surgical abortion provider. But research suggests that although use of mifepristone has become widespread and has contributed to the shift toward earlier abortions, its use has not yet substantially improved U.S. women’s geographic access to abortion services.[39]

Characteristics of U.S. Women Having Abortions:

  • How old are most women who obtain abortions in the United States? More than half of American women obtaining abortions are in their 20s.[32] Women aged 20–24 have the highest abortion rate of any age-group (40 abortions per 1,000 women).
  • How many U.S. women obtaining abortions are already mothers? Six in 10 American women having an abortion already have a child, and more than three in 10 already have two or more children.[32]
  • What proportion of U.S. women obtaining abortions are religious? More than seven in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation (37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other), and 25% attend religious services at least once a month.[38] The abortion rate for protestant women is 15 per 1,000 women, while Catholic women have a slightly higher rate, 22 per 1,000.[32]
  • What is the racial or ethnic background of U.S. women who have abortions? No racial or ethnic group makes up a majority of women having abortions: 36% are non-Hispanic white, 30% are non-Hispanic black, 25% are Hispanic and 9% are women of other races.[32]
  • Which racial or ethnic groups are most likely to have abortions in the United States? Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women have higher rates of abortion (40 and 29 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, respectively) than non-Hispanic white women do (12 per 1,000).[32] The higher rates reflect the fact that black and Hispanic women have high unintended pregnancy rates (91 and 82 per 1,000 women, respectively), compared with non-Hispanic white women (36 per 1,000 women).[26]
  • What proportion of abortions in the United States are among poor women? Women with family incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,530 for a family of three) account for more than 40% of all abortions.[32] They also have one of the country’s highest abortion rates (52 per 1,000 women). In contrast, higher-income women (with family incomes at or above 200% of the poverty line) have a rate of nine abortions per 1,000, which is about half the national rate.
  • Why do women in the United States have abortions? Most women identify multiple reasons for having an abortion: Three-fourths cite concerns for or responsibility to other individuals, including children; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.[40] The reasons U.S. women give for having an abortion reflect their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life.
  • In which regions of the United States are women most likely to have an abortion? In 2008, the abortion rate was highest in the Northeast (27 abortions per 1,000 women), followed by the West, the South and the Midwest (22, 18 and 14 per 1,000, respectively).[31]
  • How many abortions in the United States occur in the second trimester? In the United States, only about one in 10 abortions occur in the second trimester. More than nine in 10 occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and more than six in 10 occur in the first eight weeks.[37] The availability of medication abortion and new techniques that allow surgical abortions to be performed earlier in pregnancy are likely to reinforce the trend toward earlier abortions.

Cost of Abortion Services In The United States:

  • What is the average cost of a first-trimester abortion in the United States? In 2009, the median charge for a surgical abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation was $470; but since most U.S. women obtain abortions at facilities with lower charges, the average amount paid was $451.[31] The median cost for a medication abortion was $490 and women paid an average of $483.
  • How do U.S. women pay for their abortion procedures? In 2008, just one-third of privately insured U.S. women having abortions used that coverage to pay for their procedures; it is not clear how many of their plans offered full or partial coverage for abortion, or how many women were deterred from using their coverage because of concerns about confidentiality.[41] Among women having abortions that year, methods of payment included paid out of pocket 9 almost 60%), private insurance (12%), and Medicaid (20%; almost all of whom lived in the few states that use their own funds to cover medically necessary abortions).

Abortion Providers In The United States:

  • Where are abortions performed? Abortions are performed at clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices. The vast majority of U.S. abortions (about 94%) are performed at clinics.[31]
  • Is the number of abortion providers in the United States increasing or decreasing? The number of U.S. abortion providers decreased 38% between its peak, in 1982, and 2005.[31] In 2008, however, there were 1,793 providers, about the same number as in 2005.
  • Is it difficult for women in the United States to reach a provider? Some 87% of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider and 35% of women aged 15–44 live in those counties.[32] The proportions are lower in the Northeast (53% and 18%) and the West (74% and 13%). In 2005, nonhospital providers estimated that while more than seven in 10 women traveled less than 50 miles to access abortion services, nearly two in 10 traveled 50–100 miles and almost one in 10 traveled more than 100 miles.[42]
  • Are U.S. abortion clinics primarily located in black communities? No. Despite claims by antiabortion activists that most U.S. abortion clinics are located in black neighborhoods in order to target black women, fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are actually located in predominantly black communities. [43
  • What proportion of U.S. abortion providers experience harassment, and what types of harassment do they experience? In 2008, nearly nine in 10 abortion clinics in the United States experienced at least one form of harassment.[31] Levels of harassment were particularly high in the Midwest (85%) and the South (75%). Overall, picketing was the most common harassment, reported by 87% of clinics
  • Why do the Guttmacher Institute’s U.S. abortion data differ from those compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? Guttmacher’s abortion provider data are gathered through a national census of all known facilities that provide abortions in the United States, an effort the Institute has undertaken since 1973.[41] The CDC compiles data on U.S. abortion procedures it receives from state departments of health; there are a few states that do not collect or report data on abortion procedures at all. Therefore, Guttmacher’s data on abortion are considered more complete.

Legal Restrictions On Abortion:

  • Does making abortion illegal make it less common? No. The criminalization of abortion does not eliminate the procedure; instead it forces women to turn to unskilled providers who work in clandestine, unsafe conditions, thus increasing their risk of injury and death. Many developing countries have highly restrictive laws, but also high abortion rates. While the legal restrictions in these countries do not lessen the incidence of abortion, they greatly increase the risk to women.[44] The risk of death resulting from abortion in developing regions is almost 60 times that in developed regions.[35]
  • What proportion of the world’s women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws? As of 2008, some 40% of women of childbearing age (15–44 years) live in countries with highly restrictive laws (i.e., prohibiting abortion altogether, or allowing it only to save a woman’s life or to protect her physical or mental health).[44]
  • What is Roe v. Wade? Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized that a woman’s right to privacy includes her right to decide, in consultation with her physician, whether to continue her pregnancy. Roe also established that after the fetus is viable (that is, able to live outside the woman’s body, with or without artificial aid), states may restrict or ban abortions entirely, except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health.
  • What is the Hyde Amendment? First implemented in 1977, the Hyde Amendment prevents federal Medicaid funds from being used to pay for abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother. However, states may use their own funds to cover the cost of abortion services for women on Medicaid; as of October 2011, 17 states currently do so in at least some circumstances.[45]
  • How does the Hyde Amendment affect low-income women’s access to abortion in the United States? Approximately one-third of women obtaining abortions have Medicaid health care coverage, but many cannot use it to pay for their abortion procedures.[46] Women who have to pay for an abortion out of pocket may be forced to delay the procedure to raise the necessary funds, increasing both the cost and health risks associated with a later procedure. Many women must divert money meant for rent, child care, utility bills and food to pay for abortion care. Moreover, some women who are unable to obtain funding for abortions are forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
  • How do states restrict abortion access? States adopt many types of laws to restrict abortion access. The most common restrictions on abortion are parental involvement requirements for minors, state-mandated counseling and waiting periods, and limitations on public funding and private insurance. All abortion laws enacted by states must include an exception to protect the woman’s life and health. The vast majority of states have such laws in place.[47]

As someone who has bi-polar disorder, I don't really blame your family for not taking it seriously. First, it wouldn't come off as bitchy, more scary. And second, it's more than going from one emotion to the next. I'm not saying your a liar, but all day I see bi-polar(ism?) being taken so lightly. It ruined a chunk of my life, and it hurts to see it used as a snowflake badge. All. day. (<can this be excepted as ableism? PLEASE?!) Anyways, sorry to rant and I'm sorry about your other hardships.

Excuse me? Is there a particular reason you feel the need to rant in my inbox (anon no less!) when you have no idea what you’re talking about in regards to my own life? I talked about myself in a very vague paragraph about ableism in general. It wasn’t intended to give my life story or a laundry list of my symptoms because newsflash this blog is about being prochoice not me and my experiences with mental illness. I wasn’t bragging or making myself into a “special snowflake.” And there are many fucking ways to experience bipolar disorder actually. Not everyone has severe debilitating episodes that leave them non-functional or scary, or experiences cycling in the same way. Surely you would know that and would recognize that your experience with being bipolar is just that, yours. Not mine. You have no idea what this has done to my life, and yeah, since you had to ask belittling other people’s experiences and acting like you know more than my former therapist is fucking ableism. Oh, and ending with a passive aggressive fake apology doesn’t make you sound like less of a douche.

And if this does happen to be LaurenMisfortune, please have the decency to tell me this to my face. Because frankly, I don’t think I said anything offensive talking about my own life for a grand total of three sentences, and I liked talking to you.

I wanted to thank you for talking about ableism especially the mental Illness part (I'm bipolar). So many educated people don't believe that mental illness exists. There aren't any scholarships that I've found for the mentally ill. Some of my mentally ill friends have been refused recommendations for grad school. Even when it's the only way they'd be able to get a job in their degree. All the stereotypes we face. All the false beliefs about us. I just wanted to say thanks.

[TW discussion of ableism, police brutality, and mention of suicide]

You’re welcome :) I very much understand where you are coming from. I have many signs of bipolar disorder and ocd, but I couldn’t afford therapy long enough to obtain an official diagnosis, which can make life very hard. Especially when dealing with my family that find the idea of bipolar disorder somewhat laughable. It’s never a good feeling when people act like you go from one emotion to the next because you’re a “bitch” or you want to be depressed as if the physical and mental effects of depression are some sort of prize. I see a lot of ableism with invisible chronic pain as well. I had chronic and debilitating migraines every day for 6-7 years that made me incredibly suicidal. And yet people still feel like a) I’m exaggerating and b) Tylenol will help :/

Anyway…I realize now how engrained ableist language is in society’s vocabulary and how little it is properly called out. I see it a lot in the abortion “debate” in particular. I’ve written about that a little if you’re interested.

I’m very sorry to hear about your friends, it really is a tragedy when others feel the need to judge people based on stereotypes they see in the media rather than people’s lived realities and experiences. It’s particularly disturbing to me to see how people who are mentally ill are treated by the police. I feel as though they should be given specific training in how to relate and calm down people who may be scared of them but aren’t actually a threat. It seems like the police’s go-to reaction when dealing with paranoid people is to shoot to kill rather than defusing the situation :/

Overmedicating in foster care.


Today is my mom’s birthday. Last night we had a semi-surprise party for her. My sister, myself, her friend, and our brothers girlfriends all sat in the living room at one point talking about many interesting things, including gender and sex, pregnancy, and foster care. 

I felt good about the conversation. But what I wanted to show everyone was the “20/20” episode I saw on Friday night. Sadly, the full episode is not on the website yet…but I found some of the good stuff… It’s in segments on Just stay on this page and it will play each part in it’s own time.

Mind-Altering Psych Drugs for a 7-year old

Just so all of you know, I bawled the whole time I watched this. I was so upset, so angry, and the stories broke my heart. It’s very informative but may trigger some for various reasons. I urge you to take caution if you wish to watch this.

I also would like to tout this out to some anti’s who claim our foster care system isn’t in need of a serious overhaul.

These children are on medication that some adults cannot handle. It’s upsetting the lack of psychiatric care they are getting…

Things like this worry me so much. I feel like so many children fall through the cracks in any number of ways, and often they get drugged to shut them up and make the “problem” go away. But honestly, WHO is it helping? The child or the foster parent? Why are we pushing drugs at troubled children who have a history of abuse and neglect, rather than taking the time to counsel them and solve the actual problem not the external manifestation of it? Some of these children certainly could have mental illness, no doubt. But over-diagnosing them (without looking at context) and then proceeding to over-medicate them is incredibly disturbing.

This reminds me of an article I just read: "Why Are So Many Foster Care Children Taking Antipsychotics?" The statistics are startling:

  • More than 8% of children in foster care have received antipsychotic medication.
  • Just over one quarter of those in foster care who also receive disability benefits take these drugs.
  • The numbers suggest that the influence of pharmaceutical company marketing cannot be overlooked. Ninety-nine percent of youth receiving antipsychotic medications in the study were given atypical antipsychotics — the newer generation of these drugs, which are expensive and mostly unavailable in generic form and have been heavily advertised.
  • Nearly 3% of all youth on Medicaid received at least one prescription for an antipsychotic medication that year.
  • 38% of youth in foster care and 34% of foster-care youth receiving disability benefits received simultaneous prescriptions for more than one atypical antipsychotic, for more than three months.
  • Black youth were 27% more likely to receive two or more antipsychotics than whites.
  • The risks of long-term prescribing of atypical antipsychotics to children, whose brains are still developing, are not known. What is known, however, is that the drugs cause severe weight gain in children, and that taking more than one antipsychotic drug may double, even quintuple, the risk of diabetes in youth.

The article ends with this depressing passage (emphasis mine):

Although children in foster care may be genetically and environmentally at higher risk for mental illness, the disproportionately widespread use of antipsychotics in this group is troubling. “This study confirms the need for developmentally and trauma-informed practices in the vulnerable foster-care population,” says Dr. Bruce Perry, founder of the ChildTrauma Academy. "Misunderstanding the pervasive effects of abuse and neglect leads to the mislabeling of behavioral and emotional symptoms in these children and then to overmedication." (Full disclosure: Dr. Perry is my co-author on two books.)

"The frustrating reality is that there are many evidence-based non-pharmacological interventions that have proven effectiveness and have no adverse effects," Perry says. Sadly, however, no one is spending billions to push them.

(Source: general-anxiety)


Propaganda for Life: durianseeds asked: I was talking to a fellow classmate about how I read a article speaking of how that it’s a myth women…



No, that’s completely false. The American Psychiatric Association says that supposed Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome doesn’t even exist. That article goes into other myths, too.

And yeah, you’ll always find some scientists saying these things. There will always be studies…

When people say that post abortion stress syndrome doesn’t exist it’s hard for me to take them seriously. You think no one ever reacts in that way? You are wrong. Everyone reacts to having their abortion differently.

[Image: Bill Nye with his hands up as if to calm a crowd. Text reads in Impact font and all caps, “EVERYONE CALM THE FUCK DOWN. I’M A SCIENTIST.” End description.]

Just because someone might regret their abortion doesn’t mean they got a disorder from it. Research has actually shown that the people who develop mental issues from abortions usually had some mental issues to begin with, and said mental issues don’t constitute an entirely separate disorder. And again, the APA says the syndrome does not exist. The highly accredited APA.

Let’s look at methodological flaws in these studies, eh? The study in question here was done by one Priscilla K. Coleman. It says right here in the abstract that they adjusted the ratios and did not actually do their own research. Hm. Odd. That doesn’t sound like the scientific method to me.

In fact, Priscilla Coleman has been repeatedly criticized for her bad methodology. In an interview linked here, she basically confessed to sometimes fucking with data. And she is not the only anti-choice pseudo-scientist with such methodological issues.

So yeah, if I had to choose between biased pseudo-scientists or the APA, I go with the APA.

Bill Nye, Bill Nye, why you gotta be so fly?

When people say that post abortion stress syndrome doesn’t exist it’s hard for me to take them seriously. You think no one ever reacts in that way? You are wrong. Everyone reacts to having their abortion differently.

Seriously, though, THIS is what is wrong with the world. This is like people who say “I was sad yesterday for no apparent reason…I must have full-blown clinical depression!!!1!!!!”

No. No you don’t. There is a huge difference between feelings and a mental illness. Misinformed and predatory antichoicers are saying that Post-Abortion (Stress) Syndrome is a form of PTSD. This is false and downright offensive to people with PTSD or other mental illnesses (like me!). Here is a post with tons of information and peer-reviewed studies disproving PASS. No one on our side is claiming abortion isn’t a complex and nuanced event. For most people its a relief. For others, they may experience sadness and happiness simultaneously. And, yes, some people actually come to regret their abortion, but that still isn’t a mental illness.

As was said above, people that do show signs of distress after their abortions had almost always had previous experiences with mental illness. Add in the shame and stigma associated with the procedure [created almost entirely by antichoicers] and that can become a recipe for a negative emotional response. By scaremongering vulnerable people into believing PASS is real and then showing them antichoice fetus gore pr0n that do not accurately represent what their abortion will look like and then calling them a murderer and a baby-killer on their way through the door—THAT will cause a negative emotional response to the procedure, that doesn’t mean the procedure itself is to blame.

There’s this:

This review identified several factors that are predictive of more negative psychological responses following first-trimester abortion among women in the United States. Those factors included perceptions of stigma, need for secrecy, and low or anticipated social support for the abortion decision; a prior history of mental health problems; personality factors such as low self-esteem and use of avoidance and denial coping strategies; and characteristics of the particular pregnancy, including the extent to which the woman wanted and felt committed to it. Across studies, prior mental health emerged as the strongest predictor of postabortion mental health. Many of these same factors also predict negative psychological reactions to other types of stressful life events, including childbirth, and, hence, are not uniquely predictive of psychological responses following abortion. {emphasis mine}

And this:

As we have known, there is no convincing evidence that abortion is a significant cause of psychiatric illness.  We must distinguish illnesses from feelings.  A woman may have many emotional reactions to an unwanted pregnancy and abortion - most commonly relief, but also sadness and a sense of loss.  These feelings can coexist and, like feelings about any important life decision, they can vary over time.  Negative feelings often stem from the circumstances that led the woman to terminate the pregnancy, such as an abusive relationship or a lack of social supports, or from the circumstances of the abortion itself such as demonstrators at an abortion facility.  Women have abortions because they understand the importance of good mothering; they want to have wanted babies and to be able to give those babies what they need to grow up loved, healthy, and happy. {emphasis mine}

If you’ve had an abortion and do want post-procedure counseling or just someone to talk to here are some prochoice, non-judgmental resources:



(via private-revolution)

To these patients, their disease had become part of their life, their identity, as assisted them in creating a sense of emotional balance. Rationally, they wanted to get rid of the disease; but emotionally, they missed it, as if they had lost a close friend.

A certain self  (via survivingtogether)

This is how I feel about my bipolar/ocd tendencies and my additional mental illness symptoms potentially caused by hypothyroidism and anemia. It’s hard to disentangle what’s quirky me and what’s “mental illness.” I’m kind of scared to find out because, for the most part, I’m functional and I like myself the way I am. I have problems but would I give it all up to be what society deems “healthy”? What is “healthy” and who decides that? Mental illness isn’t like a broken bone; obvious with straightforward treatment. There are positive and negative sides to what I go through and there’s no way to know where I end and the “illness” begins.

(Source: betterthanbones, via theowlintheolivetree-deactivate)

Antichoice Claim #2: Abortion Causes Mental Illness

Okay, for the second time. Repeat it with me: abortion doesn’t cause mental illness.

Anti-choice people continually assert that “Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS)” exists despite overwhelming evidence that it doesn’t (and not being recognized as an actual condition by any scientific or medical body), as well as thorough literature reviews coming to the conclusion that the causal relationship between abortion and mental illness suffers from severe methodological flaws.

The most recent study to conclude there is no link between mental illness and abortion was a Dutch study published in 2011 in The New England Journal of Medicine entitled: Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder:

In Denmark, where termination of pregnancy is legal and freely available until the 12th gestational week, we found no significant increase in the incidence rate of psychiatric contact in the 12 months after an induced first-trimester abortion as compared with the 9-month period before the abortion. The incidence rate of psychiatric contact was higher among girls and women who underwent an abortion than among those who underwent delivery, but this relationship was evident before the abortion or childbirth occurred. On the basis of these results, it seems likely that girls and women having induced abortions constitute a population with higher psychiatric morbidity. We interpret this as a selection phenomenon rather than a causal association, since the observed difference in psychiatric morbidity between girls and women having abortions and girls and women delivering antedated the abortion or delivery. {emphasis mine}


In conclusion, our study shows that the rates of a first-time psychiatric contact before and after a first-trimester induced abortion are similar. This finding does not support the hypothesis that there is an overall increased risk of mental disorders after first-trimester induced abortion.

Interestingly enough, while there wasn’t a causal relationship to be proven between mental illness and abortion, there were significant findings which showed mental health risks increased after childbirth:

The risk of a psychiatric contact did not differ significantly before and after abortion (P=0.19), but the risk after childbirth was significantly greater than the risk before childbirth (P<0.001).

And yet, I see no antichoice advocates trying to ban pregnancy due to risk of postpartum depression, or even advocating for greater awareness and support for new mothers to help curb it’s incidence. Summaries of the study written for the public can be found at The Huffington Post, Medscape and MSNBC

Read More

Approximately 20% of women have had an abortion. In general, they report more symptoms of depression and lower life satisfaction than other groups of women. Is abortion related to depression? In a study, Russo and Denious (2001) found that after controlling for a history of abuse and partner characteristics, abortion was not related to poorer mental health. It was physical or sexual abuse, partner, violence, and rape or sexual assault that were related to suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety.

Multicultural Social Work Practice, Derald Wing Sue (via alexalycios)

See? Abortion doesn’t make you depressed. Assholes do.

(via klondikebar123)

(via general-anxiety)

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

[TW for postpartum depression, mental illness, spousal control]

This is by far my favorite short story of all time and has inspired much of my artwork. Written in the late 1800s, it is a disturbing and metaphorical tale of postpartum depression (not yet “discovered” by doctors) and women’s lack of freedom and control, especially within marriage. Isolated from everyone as well as forbidden to write (which is her passion) the main character is undergoing a so-called “rest cure.” While much has changed since then, too often pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood are romanticized in such a way as to silence the lived realities of many people. This is not to condemn the act of parenting whatsoever, just merely to acknowledge another perspective which is often ignored by those who would deny pregnant people the right to choose.

Another fun tidbit: if I ever have enough money, I’m getting a tattoo of “most women do not creep by daylight”!

Also, here’s an interesting analysis of the story.