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Illinois Federation

For Right to Life

Daily News

Monday, December 08, 2008

Researchers Question Johns Hopkins Study Claiming No Evidence for Post-Abortion Syndrome


A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University has asserted after surveying various reports that "the best research" on the aftermath of abortion does not support the existence of negative psychological effects. Numerous researchers and pro-life leaders, however, have immediately responded by challenging the Johns Hopkins team’s conclusion as suspect and based on subjective methods.


"The best research does not support the existence of a 'post-abortion syndrome' similar to post-traumatic stress disorder," Dr. Robert Blum, who led the study, said in a statement.


After examining 21 reports involving over 150,000 women, the team concluded that only "studies with the most flawed methodology" produced consistent evidence that a mother experienced psychological distress after aborting her child.  "Scientists are still conducting research to answer politically motivated questions," the report added.


"Based on the best available evidence, emotional harm should not be a factor in abortion policy. If the goal is to help women, program and policy decisions should not distort science to advance political agendas," said Vignetta Charles, a researcher and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins who worked on the study.


The team also criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for banning late-term abortions based on the notion of harm done to the mother's psyche.


The report follows on the heels of three very recent reports confirming the opposite hypothesis - that post-abortive women are at far higher risk for prolonged depression, substance abuse, and alcohol abuse. 


One, led by Dr. Priscilla Coleman, professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University, was released last week, confirming that abortion increases women's risk of various mental health issues.  Researchers at the prestigious Otago University of New Zealand this week also found that a 30-year study involving post-abortive women concluded they were 30% more likely to suffer depression.  A third study released by the University of Queensland the same week concluded that women were more than three times as likely to abuse drugs or alcohol after choosing to abort their child.


Dr. Coleman has said she is convinced the Johns Hopkins research is seriously flawed.  She told that the study failed to account for any of the studies addressing post-abortive substance abuse. Although substance abuse is "one of the major mental health concerns of women who have aborted and for women in general," Coleman said that "no explanation is provided for this blatant omission."


Coleman also said that she and her colleagues disagreed with the Johns Hopkins team's rating system that categorized each study from "excellent" to "very poor," and said the ratings were essentially arbitrary.


"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," Coleman said.  Coleman noted that a seminal and prestigious 2006 study by pro-abortion New Zealand researcher David Fergusson was only listed as "fair" by the team. 


Also, Coleman pointed out several studies published in respected journals that pointed to the detrimental effects of abortion but went ignored by the Hopkins team.  "The review 'missed' numerous high quality studies that meet their inclusion criteria. The result is an extremely biased selection," she said.


"This is an insult to Johns Hopkins as a credible academic research institution," exclaimed Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.  Perkins noted: "The ties of senior author Robert Blum to the Alan Guttmacher Institute as a board member and previous board chair as well as the funding of the university's department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, where three of the four study authors work, by Planned Parenthood of Maryland, serve as evidence of the political motivation behind the publishing of the study.


"Johns Hopkins should be admonished for stamping such sham science," said Perkins.


Leaders of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC), the world’s largest network serving women and men harmed by abortion, today also issued stinging criticism of the report.


“The Johns Hopkins University report’s allegation that studies proving the reality of post-abortion depression are politically motivated has to be the new definition of chutzpah,” said Janet Morana, co-founder of the SNMAC.  Morana also noted Blum's affiliation with Planned Parenthood, saying, "I wouldn’t exactly call this a report done by a disinterested, objective observer.”


“Three recent studies, from America, Australia, and New Zealand, documenting abortion’s increased risk of subsequent mental and emotional disorders were conveniently ignored by the Johns Hopkins study,” added Georgette Forney, another SNMAC co-founder.  “As I and thousands of Silent No More women can testify, the ones playing politics with women’s lives are those who ignore the clear evidence of abortion’s impact on women in order to advance their own pro-abortion agenda.”


Contact: Kathleen Gilbert


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Publish Date: December 5, 2008

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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly.   Click here to learn more about the IFRL.

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