Tuesday, September 28, 2010

40 Days, abortion and depression

When I saw all those MSM reports about how an amazing new study shows that teens can kill their unborn babies with no remorse whatsoever and smile about it for years, I figured something funny was up. Turns out my suspicious were justified:

The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, announced the results of the study Friday, claiming that "teens who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion."

The study, led by Jocelyn T. Warren and S. Marie Harvey of Oregon State University, and Jillian Henderson of the University of California, based its findings on data collected from 292 teenage girls who reported completing at least one pregnancy during 1994-96.

The researchers said that of the 69 girls who said their pregnancies ended in abortion there was no higher incidence of depression or low self-esteem in the second or third phases of the survey. [...]

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University and an expert on the psychological trauma of post-abortive women, told LifeSiteNews.com that "it really wasn't a very good study. There's a number of problems."

Coleman pointed out that the sample of women who aborted was very small. The authors themselves acknowledge this fact, saying, “The lack of association between abortion and our outcomes could reflect other factors including insufficient sample size to detect an effect.”

The professor also criticized the superficiality of the means to assess outcome, which used only 9 items to detect depression and 4 to measure self-esteem. In addition, said Coleman, "The comparison group could have been unintended pregnancy carried to term since the data is available in ADD Health, but the researchers chose the less appropriate and broader 'no abortion' group."

Coleman pointed out that she herself published a 2006 study using the same data, incorporating unintended pregnancy carried to term as the control group, and found that abortion history was associated with a six-fold increased risk of marijuana use, a five-fold increased likelihood of reporting having sought counseling for psychological and emotional problems, and a four-fold increased risk of experiencing sleeping difficulties (Coleman, P. K. (2006). Resolution of unwanted pregnancy during adolescence through abortion versus childbirth: Individual and family predictors and psychological consequences. The Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 903-911.)

"Seeking professional counseling services is a more valid measure of psychological distress than abbreviated self-report measures, one of which is merely 'predictive of depression,'" she said.

Let's talk about that sample size for a moment. If 69 teens who took an abstinence-based sex ed course remained virgins until their wedding nights and all ended up in lucrative post-collegiate jobs, and a study highlighted these teens as proof that abstinence-based sex-ed overwhelmingly results in prolonged virginity and greater wealth, would the MSM trumpet that hypothetical study as triumphantly as they have this one?

No, of course they wouldn't--because the MSM promotes, supports, and loves abortion and disapproves of virginity. Which is something to bear in mind the next time some ridiculously flimsy study based on a tiny, insignificant sample size and shoddy methodology comes out claiming that abortion is really a positive life-experience (well, for everybody except the dead child who is torn apart in her mother's womb and thrown away as medical waste--but she doesn't count).


Amanda Borenstadt said...

Oh wow, they want us to be happy when teens are without remorse? Yikes! :(

L. said...

I wonder, though, if girls who tend to choose abortion are just a certain kind of girl, very different from girls who don't?

When I was a teen, I used marijuana, I sought counseling for psychological and emotional problems, and I experienced EXTREME sleeping difficulties (and I'm not much different as an adult -- except for the marijuana part). I never had an abortion, but I was certainly the kind of girl who would have tended to choose to have one.

Maybe their are devout choir girls turned into emotional wrecks by their abortions, but I have a feeling that lots of the girls who were facing crisis pregnancies and aborted were already messed-up teens to begin with. It's the old chicken/egg.

Casey said...

Do they follow these teens into adulthood and study them later? Because those teens who chose to abort a child as a teen may not have much remorse over the next few years but years later be devastated at the realization of what they did.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I suspect that ANY study which attempts to statistically explain human moral response to much of anything is doomed to failure. Biologically, we are much more complex than that, without even getting into the spiritual dimension, which is also quite real.

I tend to believe that women who choose abortion are more likely to be women who don't care much about the baby, and women who do care about the baby are less likely to abort. On the other hand, I don't discount the story of the woman who was chair of her campus pro-life group who, finding herself pregnant, promptly sought an abortion, and said to the staff "You won't tell on me, will you?"

Aren't there at least 69 women who have shown up for the "I Regret My Abortion" forum in D.C. each January? If so, case quid pro quo, the study is at least neutralized as an authoritative reference.

eulogos said...

I am suspicious of the selection criteria for such studies, and also of the reliability of the responses to interviewers who clearly hope for a certain type of response.

I myself took part in once such study, the very first one done, before R v W, under Maryland's "Life and Health" liberalized abortion law. Health meant mental health and mental health meant you paid $50 bucks to a psychiatrist to sign for you and I can back that up from my own experience also.

After my abortion at John's Hopkins some women came to my room and said that while I was outside the area for their study they thought I would be such a good candidate for it that they were going to include me. Now right away that is an invalid study method! They thought I was a good candidate because I was all casual and practical and this is not bothering me at all about my abortion, which was radically NOT what I really felt. So I answered all their survey questions that way.
6 months later I had been converted, and when they sent someone to interview me...and also administer the MMPI... I answered according to my new beliefs and to my real feelings to the degree that I had managed to face them. The look of disgust and repugnance on the interviewers face literally made my stomach hurt and made me feel as if it was difficult to breathe. We humans respond in physiological ways to disapproval from authority type figures or from valued peers. It took all my strength as a new Christian to go on answering the questions the way I did.

I wasn't surprised when the study came out and proved that there were no adverse emotional effects of abortion! They probably found it convenient after my interview to exclude me from the study as out of their district! And I know that it would have been very difficult for any woman to report any adverse effects or feelings to these interviewers!

Susan Peterson

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Good points Susan. Thank you for sharing your experience.

In my limited experience, most women who have abortions are scared and don't really think they have a baby inside them. They block the reality because they are scared and don't want to think about it.

I've known woman who didn't regret their abortions until years later because they didn't come to understand what it meant until they became mothers of living children. It's so heartbreaking to see their regret but some of these woman (and men too) are the most beautiful advocates for life, so something very good can come from it.

L. said...

I know about four dozen post-abortive women, most of whom are now in their 40's and 50's. I only know a few who regret their abortions. In some cases, abortion has moved on to the second generation -- their daughters have had them, too.

But I was struck by something a friend of mine in her 70's (who had an abortion shortly after Roe vs. Wade) said: "I felt like I wasn't even supposed to be sad."

eulogos said...

Well, no, the rightness or wrongness of something isn't dependent on whether those who do it feel bad about it.

Feeling bad about it isn't proof against doing it either. I felt bad before I was doing it, as I was doing it, and after I did it the first time, and I still did it a second time. It also takes principles and the guts to stick with them. And often, it also takes people to support you in your choice.

I am actually glad I am not back at age 17 knowing what I know now, because had I had that baby I most likely would have been RH sensitized, since I would have delivered one month before Rho Gam went on the market
(Pres. Lyndon Johnson's daughter got it before then, but I wouldn't have.) All of my nine children are RH+; although there is 25% chance we could have had an RH- baby we never did. So most of these babies would have died in utero from Rh incompatibility. This wouldn't justify an abortion. But it makes it difficult for me to go back and wish I had had that baby.
Of course I knew none of that then. I just had an abortion for the typical reasons an unmarried 17 year old would have had an abortion in 1968. Back then a girl had to drop out of high school once it was apparent she was pregnant. No provisions were made for her further schooling. My parents would have been mortified; there would have been gossip among their students in the same school system.
If I had given up the baby for adoption I suppose I could still have gone to college -St. John's would have taken me without a high school diploma-they had already offered to do so. But the shame issue was so great. My father told me my child would be unadoptable because of mental health issues in our family, which might have been true at some point but was hardly true in 1968.
No, I wouldn't want to go back there with that set of forces acting on me.
I can easily imagine someone who doesn't believe abortion is wrong, not regretting that she escaped from such a situation.

Susan Peterson

L. said...

Susan, comments like yours really drive home that whether they think abortion is right or wrong, the vast majority of people would work together to prevent such situations.

I have no moral qualms about abortion (in fact, I have used abortificiant birth control), but I hate hearing people say, "I didn't want to do it, but I aborted because I had no choice." That is a slap in the face to all who considers themselves "pro-choice."

eulogos said...

But then, one would hope that if everyone worked together and everything was so idyllic that support systems were in place to assist every woman who is pregnant, no one would CHOOSE to destroy her unborn child, no matter how tiny at the time.

In fact while you can change all sorts of things you can't change that being pregnant is not a small thing for a woman, especially being pregnant for the first time. I have had nine full term pregnancies which were all pretty healthy and less distressing than many I have heard about, but it is still a pretty big deal. Being 8 months pregnant at the prom? at graduation? at your best friend's wedding where you were supposed to be a bridesmaid? at your wedding? when you were supposed to be running a big race or swimming in a big meet?
when you were half way through your residency? It makes you feel sick at times, it makes you tired, it gives you stretch marks and varicose veins. It might make you throw up so much for a couple of months that you can't write your thesis when it is due. It is a burden to be pregnant when you didn't want to be.

But there IS another person involved. That means that once this is the case, bearing this burden is a moral responsibility. It also means that the act which leads to this other person being there has to be regarded with more moral seriousness. The fact that a human person might result whom one has a moral responsibility to nurture says everything about the nature and meaning of the sexual act .
About the intrinsic nature and meaning of the sexual act, which contraception just lies about.

I don't want to be all chummy with you if you can utter the sentence "I have no moral qualms about abortion." Here is a tiny being, usually already with tiny hands and feet and a beating heart, who if just left in the womb to grow for another half a year or so, will be a human baby, a very specific, particular, unique human person who has never been before and will never be again. If you have no scruples against killing such a human being I don't know what to say to you. I suspect you will have no scruples against killing me when I am old and helpless and perhaps cannot walk and talk anymore. I suspect you will have no scruples against killing the profoundly retarded child who is barely aware of other people and has no quality of life. Both are nearly as burdensome, perhaps more burdensome, than the child in the womb. In fact their case is worse; they may be burdens for longer, and they have no potential. The child in the womb is so full of potential.

There is no virtue at all in "choice" per se. There is only virtue in making the right choices.
And often "Xalepa ta kala"-The good is difficult.

Susan Peterson

L. said...

"I don't want to be all chummy with you if you can utter the sentence 'I have no moral qualms about abortion.'" --->

All right, then. Lots of people in my parish feel the same way, and there are probably parents who won't allow their kids to play with mine, because of my views. I have great respect for the pro-life point of view, even though I am not pro-life myself.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

I got pregnant when I was very young and unmarried. I barely knew the guy. I was scared and embarrassed. My good friend at the time urged me to consider abortion. I was tempted. That child is now 18. She once thanked me for not aborting her. I thank God I made the right choice. I understand why women make the wrong one and I know what is lost when they do. My daughter was so close to being dead because of what I might have done.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

"I don't want to be all chummy with you if you can utter the sentence 'I have no moral qualms about abortion.'" --->

If a certain pro-life minister had held to that attitude, Norma Jean McCorvey would not now be a featured speaker on the pro-life circuit. He and his entire staff had to be quite chummy with her before she started to think twice about her job as receptionist at the abortion clinic next door.

eulogos said...

L, I don't know if you can understand the sickening chill produced by the words "I have no moral qualms about abortion."

I just couldn't let those words pass as if it were perfectly normal and reasonable to utter them and we would let it pass as just another opinion.

I am sure my kids played with kids whose parents had all sorts of opinions; I wasn't controlling in that way. And I go on birth blogs and talk about home birth with women I am sure mean abortion when they let fall phrases like 'reproductive rights.' I just sort of hope they don't bring it up too explicitly so we can go on talking about birth and I don't have to oppose them and get myself banned.I also talk about gardening and raising chickens with people of all sorts of opinions about subjects which don't even come up. And if they did I might just quickly say I disagreed and change the subject. I'd drink coffee with them and smile and say hi when I saw them on the street.

But on a Catholic blog, I just couldn't let that sentence pass.

And what is this about people "in my parish"? Is this a Catholic parish? Most other Christian groups don't use the word parish...
You can't be Catholic and "have no moral qualms about abortion." If you think that, you are not a Catholic. Being a Catholic means accepting everything that the Church teaches.
If the Church teaches it, and it looks otherwise to you, you should know you are wrong because as a Catholic you know that Christ's Church teaches authoritatively in His name.
And any form of contraception is morally wrong; if you are engaging in it you are committing mortal sin. And if you go on receiving communion while you do it- Have you really prayed about these things? Have you gotten down on your knees before the Blessed Sacrament and asked God to show you the truth? And then taken time to stay there and listen?

I beg you to repent and really be a Catholic and stay with us. But if you can't see it any other way and don't understand why you should submit your understanding to the Church, at the very least it would be a step of honesty to join some Christian denomination whose beliefs you could honestly endorse.


eulogos said...


I think that situation is different from commenting on a blog. There is a difference between treating a person like a person in person, even if they are associated with something terrible, and just letting such a chilling comment pass on a blog.
I suppose I should have said that it was the comment I didn't want to be chummy with.


L. said...

Susan --

Yes, Susan, I am Catholic. I attend mass weekly, but I am not devout, and I haven't received communion since I decided when I was 15 that I had no moral qualms about abortion. I do not claim that my opinions about abortion, or contraception or marriage (I will never be able to get married to my partner in the Church) are in line with the Church's teachings. I know they are not.

Why do I continue going? I am not sure.

L. said...

Oh, I should also explain why I am commenting at this blog. I came to watch the whole PANTS debate, and I will continue to read because I am always interested in hearing viewpoints with which I don't necessarily agree.

I have great respect for the pro-life point of view, even though I'm not pro-life myself.

eulogos said...


It sounds as if you are one of the "children standing at the gate/who will not go away and cannot pray" of TS Eliot's Ash Wednesday.

Not saying specifically that you don't pray, but that there must be some reason why you continue to go to mass. It is honest that you don't receive communion, although I am sad that you are in such a place.

Pants.Hah! I actually am one of the people who more days than not wears what have been called dismissively here "prairie skirts" . I think of them as 60's hippie skirts because when we weren't wearing jeans that's what we wore.
I think they are more graceful on heavy women than pants, on the whole. But after that debate I wore pants to work three times this week. Also because it was raining a lot and those skirts catch more falling rain and get wet from the water on the ground. Anyway, I am amazed that so much ink has been spilled-oops, so many electronic bits of data have been transmitted-over that issue.

May God bless you.
Susan Peterson

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I agree Eulogos. There are many comments I don't get chummy with, but very few people I can't cheerfully break bread with.

I also agree that there is something sinister about a person having NO moral qualms about abortion. It is a serious decision, it is not at all without cost, and should be very carefully weighed. My moral qualms are, obviously, not the same as yours, but it is not something to be entered into lightly.