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Posted by on in Abortion and Women's Health
Emotional Effects After Abortion

I feel concerned about women after abortion, particularly after hearing very emotional and negative experiences from women.   I looked at a review on mental health and abortion by the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion.  Overall, their conclusions seem to reflect how women are usually coping and getting on with their lives.  But surprisingly, this important review failed to conclude on the risks of emotional effects after abortion and effects on the general mental health of women.

The 2008 American Psychological Association's - APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (TFMHA) reviewed 223 USA and International studies published in peer-reviewed journals from 1990-2007 and gave its findings in a 100 page report.1 Firstly, the TFMHA defines "mental health" using the World Health Organisation's (WHO) definition of mental health as: "a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."  All the women I know appear to satisfy this definition of "mental health" after abortion.

Then the TFMHA explains that the question of whether abortion causes harm to women's health cannot be scientifically tested.  This would require randomised trials where pregnant women are assigned to an abortion verses delivery verses adoption group and this is obviously not desirable nor ethical.  So the (testable) questions addressed by the TFMHA were how prevalent are mental health problems among women in the U.S. who have had an abortion and what is the relative risk of mental health problems after abortion compared to alternatives (adoption or motherhood).

The TFMHA specifies mental health problems for an important reason - it emphasises that "mental health problems" are defined as "clinically significant disorders assessed with valid and reliable measure of physician diagnosis."  Examples include, major depression, anxiety disorders or postraumatic stress disorders.  Excluded from the definition of mental health problems are 'normal' negative emotions or feelings a woman might experience after an abortion and as the TFMHA states, these include regret, sadness or dysphoria.2  "Dysphoria" (psychiatry) means: a "state of unease or generalised dissatisfaction with life", or "an emotional state characterised by anxiety, depression or unease."3

So the TFMHA review on mental health and abortion was largely limited to drawing conclusions on mental health problems after abortion where mental health problems are clinically diagnosed mental disorders in women.  Although the TFMHA did review papers that analysed relative mental risks (i.e. including emotional effects) associated with abortion, it rejected all the studies as being unable to provide unequivocal evidence on these, due to "methodological flaws".

The conclusion of the TFMHA was, "the most methodologically sound research indicates that among women who have a single, legal, first-trimester abortion of an unplanned pregnancy for nontherapeutic reasons, the relative risks of mental health problems is no greater than the risks among women who deliver an unplanned pregnancy".

Not surprisingly, this conclusion seems to reflect the women after abortion I know - they had a single, legal, early abortion and seem to be doing fine as capable and successful women without any psychological disorders.  However these women have experienced a very deep and personal, ongoing sadness and regret after abortion.  These significant adverse effects on the psychological well-being of women after abortion were not well-addressed by the TFMHA because it would not use studies that included evidence on emotional effects to make a conclusion.

The TFMHA gave a conclusion of the relative risk of "mental health problems", i.e. mental health disorders only: their conclusion does not address concerns about the relative risk of abortion on the general mental health of women, including adverse emotional effects.  As I discuss in "Planned Parenthood's Misleading Claims on Mental Health and Abortion", unfortunately abortion providers and services, such as Planned Parenthood and government websites in Australia and the U.S. ignore this narrow conclusion of the TFMHA and instead use it to make claims that abortion does not cause emotional effects.  This is very misleading to women considering abortion and fails to acknowledge the women who do suffer adverse affects and are in need of care and support from their health care providers and communities. 

 

Are you suffering emotional effects after abortion?  You can find help in your area using our online directory or guide or call now:

24 Hr Helpline: 1800 090 777 (Aus)

or

24 Hr International Helpline:

866 482 5433 (USA)

(exit code) 1 866 483 5433 (Intl)

 

1 TFMHA - Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (2008). Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Washington, DC. American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf

2 TFMHA. 2008. Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Washington, DC. American Psychological

Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion.   http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf

  p.7.  "..it is crucial to distinguish between clinically significant mental disorders, such as major depression,

generalised anxiety disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder, and a normal range of negative emotions or feelings

one might experience following a difficult decision, such as feelings of regret, sadness or dysphoria.  While the latter

feelings may be significant, by themselves they do not constitute psychopathology."

 

3 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dysphoria

 

 

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On Planned Parenthood: How I was Almost a Victim of Big Business

This article originally appeared on the author's site, 1Shiksayisrael on July 24, 2015.  Republished with permission.

 

I feel like I have aged a thousand years since June 15, 2015.  That is the day videos were released that showed a sting on illegal practices at Planned Parenthood.  I have been agitated, upset and at unease since they aired.  I have hardly slept and my mind has become troubled. 

I am troubled because me and my baby almost became victims of Planned Parenthood.  I say victims correctly because I feel like a victim of rape or molestation due to Planned Parenthood's unethical practices.  I have come to see that Planned Parenthood is an abuser like any other.  They use shame, manipulation and deceit like an abuser.  An abuser of women, babies and souls.  I should tell you of my experience with them.

Ten years ago I was a Federal Officer with a new house and a new relationship.  Things were going pretty good.  Then one day I found out I was pregnant.  My boyfriend's initial joy soon changed to worry for finances.  He just didn't think we could handle a baby.  Over the next week, Rob wore me down to having an abortion.  I just couldn't handle the pressure of losing everything for a baby.  I called Planned Parenthood and I must tell you, I was never counselled about adoption.  I wasn't emotionally counselled.  I was told to come in and have an abortion.  I was told it was a painless, easy procedure and best for the baby too.  They said my baby wasn't a baby but a blob of tissue without feelings.  They said it was a mercy to abort my baby.

I asked about having an ultrasound but I was told my baby was too small and it was a waste of time. I made the appointment for the next day.  I couldn't get my baby out of my mind so I called my regular doctor and he said he could fit me in for an emergency ultrasound if I hurried. I got to the hospital and I laid down on a cold, sterile table.  The technician didn't know I was going to have an abortion the next day.  She showed me my baby.  His heart was beating like a hummingbird's.  He was moving.  I looked at his heart beat and I couldn't kill him.  I just couldn't kill my baby.

I started to cry and the technician seemed to understand my thoughts.  She left and I cried on that cold table because I was all alone.  Then I remembered, I wasn't alone.  I had a little person with me and God.  I went outside and in tears told Rob that I wasn't going to kill our baby.  He said he would leave me and he did.  I gave birth without him and I cut my baby's cord alone.  I named him LeModre which is Spanish for "The Mother", because I brought him through Hell and back.

My baby is beautiful and not life unworthy of life.  He is my beautiful treasure and a gift from God.  When I see these Planned Parenthood videos I almost vomit, I almost throw myself to the ground.  What had I almost done?  What had Planned Parenthood made easy and pressured me to do?  I feel traumatized since I saw the truth of Planned Parenthood.. They are the worst human beings on Earth.  They make money off of people's problems and turn innocent life into meat for a corporation's sell as if they were a cattle farm..

If you're a mother unsure of what to do, please know that it won't always be like this.  God gives us trials to make us strong.  Please choose Life because Death never answered anyone's problems.  I want to encourage pro-lifers to keep encouraging and counselling women.  Corporations like Planned Parenthood are here to snuff the Light of God from this earth and we will answer in Paradise for our actions.  God bless you! 

I

 

 

 

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Open Letter To Cecile Richards: Care for Women Hurting After Planned Parenthood Videos

Warning: This post contains links to videos on abortion that are graphic and disturbing. Viewer discretion advised.

 

Dear Planned Parenthood CEO, Cecile Richards,

In your statement on a recent controversial video of Planned Parenthood staff, you said:

"Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide.. As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and take swift action to address it." 

I write in response, to request Planned Parenthood address an urgent need for care of post abortive women (and others) who have been deeply affected by their experience at Planned Parenthood and by staff comments in this video and further releases. 

Women who have had an abortion at one of your facilities but were not well informed, have spoken.  They have expressed great pain and heartache after learning of the reality of their baby's development early in pregnancy and of abortion procedures, which were not explained to them beforehand. 

After the release of the first Planned Parenthood video, Misha, who had an abortion at Planned Parenthood seventeen years ago, revealed she couldn't sleep for three days:

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Misha-Screen-Shot-2_20150724-144018_1.png 

Misha's story is that at about 10 weeks pregnant, Planned Parenthood staff told her that her pregnancy was just a 'blob'.  She was pro-choice and believed them.  Unlike now, there wasn't information on foetal development she could search on the internet.  After the abortion, she went to a library to look up pictures of foetuses and was distressed by what she saw.  She regretted her decision and felt like that she had been denied her right to make a choice because she had been lied to and was not provided the information she deserved. 

The Planned Parenthood viral videos have caused Misha to relive those painful memories, made even more hurtful by staff comments about harvesting body parts of foetuses at 10 weeks, when she was told her pregnancy was just a 'blob'.  She cried for days and days and couldn't sleep.  However, although Misha expressed her pain to Planned Parenthood, not a single representative of your company offered her support links or help. 

Ms Richards, despite the graphic nature of these videos and inevitable mental health issue for some post abortion women, you have offered no counselling for them.  Misha's experience at Planned Parenthood is similar to many other testimonies of women shared on Silent No More: 

"I was 15 years old when my mother and I returned to Planned Parenthood after the contraception they provided months before failed.  I was told I was 11 weeks pregnant and that my pregnancy was a 'clump of cells'.. I was not given any counselling of any kind whatsoever.  Today, I deeply regret my abortion." - Shadia 

"My name is Barbara and I am 43 years old.  When I was 21, I had an abortion with the help of Planned Parenthood of West Bend, Wisconsin.  Planned Parenthood told me at that time that my baby was nothing but tissue at that point in my pregnancy.  I was about 10 weeks along.  It was nothing but lies..  There was no counselling afterwards, and no one to talk to.. Please stop this happening to other women.. " 

"There was absolutely no counselling about the possible emotional aftermath of having an abortion.  I became suicidal and had no one to turn to.  And to find out that what I was aborting was not a "blob" of tissue, but an identifiably human form, complete with heartbeat, finger and toes.  Planned Parenthood was woefully wrong to lie and not offer any post-abortion counselling." - Susan, New Jersey 

Ms Richards, please ensure Planned Parenthood's compassionate care is not limited to women before an abortion but afterwards too. Planned Parenthood should offer all women counselling after an abortion, should they need it. The Planned Parenthood website is confusing on the availability of post abortion counselling at various Planned Parenthood locations. 

Particuarly let those women hurt by comments of Planned Parenthood staff know where they can get counselling. Please apologise to these women, Ms Richards. Not just for the 'tone' of staff comments but for the failure of Planned Parenthood for decades to inform women of human development and explain abortion procedures that they had a right to know.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tiana Sakr

CEO, Women and Babies Support (WOMBS) International Ltd

 


If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call 911 (USA) or 000 (Australia), otherwise the National Suicide Prevention Line (USA) at 1(800) 273-8255 or Lifeline (Australia) at 13 11 14. 

If you are experiencing emotional problems such as inability to sleep, constant crying, anger, anxiety or inability to concentrate, please seek help with a local counsellor or therapist. For assistance, call now:

24 Hr International Helpline:

      866 482 5433 (USA)

(exit code) 1 866 482 5433 (Intl)

Or, if you are in Australia:

1800 090 777 (Aus)

Otherwise, our online directory at http://abortiongroup.com/index.php/get-help/findservices or Care Net at http://www.care-net.org/find-a-pregnancy-center may assist you in locating a counsellor near you.  

Pregnancy centers usually offer free counselling both before and after crisis pregnancy and abortion.

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Posted by on in After Abortion
Finding common ground on abortion

Leah Torres MD and I tweet each other often about abortion.  Leah asked what my thoughts were on a blog she wrote called 'Universal Truths'.  Although Leah and I sit on either side of the abortion debate, I am confident in saying that each of us are genuinely happy when we can find common ground on issues relating to abortion and can simply agree.

So when I read her blog I was pleased to say that I did agree with all the main points of her blog, which Leah refers to as 'universal truths':

1. Everyone wants fewer abortions.

2. Abortions will always be needed.

3. When abortion is legal and accessible, it is safe.

However, I wanted to respond in detail to Leah's discussion on each and share some different views on each point and also make some suggestions.

Everyone wants fewer abortions.. how true.  Leah aptly describes how scary and difficult it is for a woman to face an unexpected pregnancy.  "She never wanted to consider having an abortion .. yet not everything.. works out the way we plan..Thus, what I mean by "everyone wants fewer abortions", is that beginning with the woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, everyone wants fewer abortions."

Leah stongly urges comprehensive sexual health education and access to highly effective contraception in order to lower the rate of abortion.   I agree education and access to a variety of effective contraception methods that people feel comfortable using, for health or religious reasons too, are important to avoid pregnancies.  However, as Leah says, 'no birth control method is perfect'. There will always be unexpected pregnancies even with good sex education and use of contraception.  We must look at other ways also to lower the rate of abortion.  What first sprung to my mind, there could be much better support in our communities for women that specifically address the problems many face in an unexpected pregnancy, rather than just offering one solution: abortion.

Leah mentions a woman must consider her health, her family situation, her financial situation.  These are important points.  Good maternal health services are critical to ensure all women can enjoy healthy pregnancies and deliveries.  But unfortunately, even in developed countries such as the United States1, maternal health is not consistently to the high standard it should be nor is prenatal care available to all women (either because available care is poor or it is too costly).  Women should not have to pay for ultrasounds or to give birth in a hospital.  This directly impacts the health of women in pregnancy and any risks she might experience in continuing a pregnancy.  Improving maternal health services (particularly in hospitals) and ensuring all women can receive a high standard of prenatal care through universal health care would have a direct and positive impact on lowering pregnancy risks for many women.

A woman in unexpected pregnancy also considers her family situation: this would include her relationships with her husband/partner, any children and probably her parents too.  The situation she finds herself in and relationships with those closest to her may have great influence on whether a woman feels she can continue a pregnancy or not.  But what happens if she is unsure she really wants an abortion but is unsupported by her parents or partner?  Without support she feels she will not cope.  What if she knew she could get the support she needs elsewhere?  Would she feel then she could continue the pregnancy?  Quality, accessible services like personalised care in an unexpected pregnancy, relationship counselling, pregnancy and parenting support services (including home visits) can give women who would otherwise feel they have no other choice but abortion due to lack of support, a real choice to continue in the pregnancy.

Also Leah mentions the financial situation for a women.  In many places, this is the number 1 reason women have an abortion.  Is there another solution?  Yes, financial help can be a solution and, not just temporary financial help in pregnancy but well into the future.  For many women, giving birth comes with the financial responsibility of raising a child.  What financial support is offered mothers in your area?  If a single mum has to take time off paid work because of pregnancy and to care for a child, could she get by?  Can she afford to provide for the child?  What about a student or dependent - is there any help for them in an unexpected pregnancy?  What about the mother with two young children already who is the main breadwinner in the family?  Is there financial support available if she can't work for months and months?  Unexpected pregnancies lead to the possibility of an unexpected financial crisis for many people.  It is for times like this that I think a broad social welfare net and financial support of women and families in need in our communities is completely justified.

Also importantly there should be financial support for women who choose adoption over abortion. They should not have to struggle to pay for regular visits to the doctor or to receive prenatal/materal care and may need financial support for time off work due to the pregnancy.  Adoption is a very difficult decision and women should be well supported with free specialised support, particularly counselling, both before and well after an adoption.

There are of course many complex and personal reasons why a woman may consider an abortion.  Here we've just discussed a few but I think we should look at the main rasons why women seek abortion and consider 'are there other solutions to these reasons and are women being offered these solutions as well as abortion?'  If not, why not?

Abortions will always be needed.. I agree with that too, for certain kinds of abortions.

First, to be clear, by 'abortion' we are referring to an 'induced abortion' and not a miscarriage (medically called a 'spontaneous abortion').  "Abortion" is the deliberate ending of a pregnancy before an embryo or fetus is viable (capable of surviving outside the womb).  This is the standard medical definition of an abortion.2  However, abortions occur after viability also, well into the 2nd or 3rd trimesters and although these may be called a 'late termination of pregnancy' or a 'delivery' or a 'birth' by the medical community, they are nevertheless still what is generally understood to be an 'abortion' if the intention of the procedure is to produce a nonviable fetus.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collecting data on abortion in the USA, defines legal induced abortion as:

"a procedure, performed by a licenced physician or someone acting under the supervision of a licensed physician, that was intended to terminate a suspected or known intrauterine pregnancy and to produce a nonviable fetus at any gestational age."3 (emphasis added)

There are differences in the aim of some abortions.  A procedure may be performed to deliberately end a pregnancy but the aim of the abortion is not to cause the death of the embryo or fetus but to treat the mother.  Charles Camosy, philosopher and a professor of social ethics, refers to abortions as either direct or indirect depending on whether the procedure aims at the death of the embryo or fetus.4  I find this a helpful distinction between different kinds of abortions.

A direct abortion aims at the death of the embryo or fetus.  Procedures that are always direct abortions (by their very nature) are vacuum aspiration and dilation & extraction (D&E) abortions.

An indirect abortion does not aim (as an end or by its method) at the death of the fetus (although this may be likely or inevitable).  Procedures that may be used to perform an indirect abortion are an induction of labour, removing the uterus (hysterectomy) or the abortion pill, RU486.  (RU486 arguably causes the embryo to detach from the woman without directly attacking the embryo itself). It is important to note that these procedures are not indirect abortions, however, if the aim of the procedure is the death of the embryo or fetus.

The abortions I agree will always be needed are indirect abortions for reasons such as ectopic pregnancy or pre-eclampsia or other medical conditions (such as cancer of the uterus), as a last resort.  Medical situations when a pregnancy poses a very serious threat to a woman's life and health and there is no alternative method of treatment other than an abortion are rare.

Leah submits that abortions will always be needed by women who receive news later in pregnancy that her child has a life limiting diagnoses and will either die before birth or shortly after delivery.  Also that abortion will always be needed for women whose health is placed seriously at risk due to a pregnancy in the second and third trimesters (perhaps jeopardising future pregnancies).  I disagree an abortion will always be needed for pregnancies where the child has a life limiting diagnoses, however an indirect abortion may be needed later in pregnancy if a woman's health is at risk.  What is definitely needed and is often lacking today is personal and specialised care to help parents confronted with the news their child has a life limiting diagnoses and through a very difficult time.

When abortion care is legal and accessible, it is safe.. well I mostly agree with this statement but partly disagree too.  Not all legal abortions are safe for women.  More than 400 women are known to have died from legal abortions, since abortion was legalised in the United States in 1973.5  The risk of death from a legal abortion significantly increases each week from very early in a pregnancy. Available data on abortion-related deaths from 1988-1997 in the U.S. showed that, after 8 weeks of pregnancy, the risk of mortality increases by 38% each week.6  So what is a "safe" abortion?  Since a pregnant woman can only continue in pregnancy or have an abortion, I think it is reasonable to say that by "safe", we are talking about how safe it is in comparison to giving birth.  In the period 1988-1997, per trimester, the risk of mortality in abortion was 14.7/100,000 at 13-15 weeks pregnancy, 29.5/100,000 at 16-20 weeks pregnancy and 76.6/100,000 after 21 weeks pregnancy.6  During 1988-1997, the risk of death in childbirth was approximately 8-10/100,000.1  So in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, the risk of death from legal abortion exceeded that of childbirth.

Hence I would have to qualify that I agree abortions early in the first trimester of pregnancy when legal and accessible, are safe.  Also any necessary medical procedure performed by a qualified medical practitioner in a hospital or approved facility will of course be much safer than one performed by an unqualified person or without a regulated standard of care.

How do we reduced the need for abortions?  I would like to add to Leah's answer to provide comprehensive sex education and highly effective methods of contraception with a few more suggestions: provide free, high standard maternal care, including hospital delivery; welfare support for pregnant women and children after birth; counselling, social and psychological support services available both during and after an unexpected pregnancy; social change for non-discrimination of pregnant women at school, college, in the workplace and in public facilities.

I thank Leah for inviting discussion on this important topic and I hope others will join in constructive discussion and efforts towards the change everyone wants.. fewer abortions.

 

 

1 Kilpatrick SJ. "Next Steps to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality in the USA."  Medscape, Women's Health. 2015; 11(2): 193-199 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/842588. Introduction:

"Maternal mortality in the USA, after a dramatic fall from 900s/100,000 live births in the early 1900s, largely due to the advent of antibiotics, plateaued at 8-10/100,000 from 1980 until the late 1990s at which point maternal mortality rose.  Worldwide between 1990 and 2013 maternal mortality increased in nearly every country, except the USA, where it increased by 1.7%."

2 Annas GJ, Elias S. "Legal and Ethical Issues in Obstetric Practice." 2007. 51:

"[T]he standard medical definition of abortion [is] termination of a pregnancy when the fetus is not viable." 

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Abortion Surveillance - United States, 2007", Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60, no. 1 (February 25, 2011), p.2. Available at  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6001.pdf

4 Camosy, C. "Beyond the Abortion Wars. A Way Forward for a New Generation" 2015. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 64-65, 81.

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Abortion Surveillance - United States, 2007", Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60, no. 1 (February 25, 2011), p.36. Available at  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6001.pdf

6 Barlett LA, Berg CJ, Shulman HB, Zane SB, Green CA, Whitehead S, Atrash HK. "Risk factors for legal induced abortion-related mortality in the United States." 2004; Obstet Gynewcol 103: 729-37. Available at http://www.researchgate.net/publication/8648767_Risk_Factors_for_Legal_Induced_AbortionRelated_Mortality_in_the_United_States

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Planned Parenthood's Misleading Claims on Abortion and Mental Health

America's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood in its latest publication, "The Emotional Effects of Induced Abortion"(2013)1, claims that "legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women" and that "most substantive studies in the last 30 years have found abortion to be a relatively benign procedure in terms of emotional effect.."  I looked carefully at the research Planned Parenthood refers to and these claims are false.  The two main reviews cited by Planned Parenthood do not support a general claim that abortion does not affect the mental health of women.  Planned Parenthood's claims on abortion and mental health are both misleading and irresponsible.

When I read Planned Parenthood's publication and similar statements from other abortion providers, I wondered about claims that abortion does not have emotional effects because so many women have expressed deep and ongoing negative emotional reactions after abortion.  It just didn't seem right because although women in general are obviously coping, all the women after abortion who I know personally have suffered so much mentally in private and for a long time and I have read the stories of many more who have gone through similar experiences.

So I spent weeks looking into the actual research on mental health and abortion referenced by Planned Parenthood, reading mammoth reports.  Firstly, the 100 page report by the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (TFMHA)2 in 2008 and then the 250 page report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC)3 in 2011 (London).  These reports are the result of two major systematic reviews that Planned Parenthood cites to support it's own claims on mental health and abortion 

Firstly, Planned Parenthood makes this opening statement, "legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women" and says this is supported by rigorous reviews in the last five years.  It goes on to give conclusions from the two reviews by the AMRC and the TFMHA that I just mentioned.  However, in doing so, Planned Parenthood fails to make some crucial points which are necessary to understand the context of these reviews and the conclusions they make.

Looking at the AMRC report, it is important to note this review excluded negative emotional effects and research evidence of mental health problems within 90 days of an abortion.  Its focus was on clinically diagnosed mental health disorders or mental illness beyond 3 months of an abortion.  Planned Parenthood does not mention this.  It does not define mental health problems anywhere in it's publication and seems to confuse this term with emotional effects when these two outcomes are actually treated very differently in the TFMHA and AMRC reviews into mental health and abortion.  

The AMRC conclusions do not directly support Planned Parenthood's statement, 'legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women.'  It concluded that support and proper care should be available for all women who have an unwanted pregnancy "because the risk of mental health problems increases whatever the pregnancy outcome".

Also the TFMHA review does not support Planned Parenthood's opening statement.  The TFMHA report did not conclude that no women suffer mental health problems as a result of legal induced abortion.  In fact it says, "To state that women in general do not show an increased incidence of mental health problems following a single abortion, however, does not mean that no women experience such problems."(p.91)

The TFMHA also clearly state in their report how crucial it is to define "mental health problems" (which it defines as clinically diagnosed/measured mental disorders).  The Planned Parenthood publication fails to share this information.  Planned Parenthood fails to inform women that claims made by the paper in reference to mental health problems do not include the negative emotions or behaviour, e.g. sadness, regret, guilt, or even depression below the clinical threshold, that may affect a women's health after an abortion. Unless this is made clear, readers may otherwise think the conclusions made by the APA on mental health problems includes all negative psychological effects, including emotional healh

Planned Parenthood makes another claim in reference to the AMRC review, falsely stating it, "reviewed all studies about the emotional effects of abortion that had been published in English between 1990 and 2011."  As mentioned earlier, the AMRC excluded 'emotional effects' of abortion as being 'beyond the scope' of its review and only concluded on evidence on mental health problems (clinically measured or validated using rating scales) and substance abuse from a very limited number of studies in the end. In fact by the time the AMRC was done with excluding studies because they did not meet inclusion criteria it was left with only 180 studies out of 8909 references from 1990-2011, and drew its final conclusions on mental health outcomes from between 1 & 4 studies only (see p.108-118 of report3).  This claim by Planned Parenthood which indicates that the AMRC conducted a rigorous review on emotional effects and abortion is hence false.

As the TFMHA says, "abortion means different things to different women" which may "lead to variability in women's psychological experiences to their particular abortion experience.  For these reasons, global statements on the psychological impact of abortion on women can be misleading."(p.9)  Planned Parenthood should have noted this important observation of the TFMHA and refrained from making a global statement about abortion and mental health problems that seriously misinforms the public, especially health providers and vulnerable women in pregnancy who may make decisions based on these claims.  

 

1  Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.  The Emotional Effects of Induced Abortion. 2013. 1 - 3.  http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/Emotional_Effects_of_Induced_Abortion.pdf. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 

2  TFMA. Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Washington, DC. American Psychological Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion.  http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf

3 AMRC. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. (2011). Induced Abortion and Mental Health - A Systematic Review

of the Mental Health Outcomes of Induced Abortion, Including Their Prevalence and Associated Factors. London. 

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges/National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

http://www.nccmh.org.uk/reports/ABORTION_REPORT_WEB FINAL.pdf  Retrieved on 10 July 2014.

 

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