Joanna Alphonso:

The latest data on post-abortion mental health reveal a bias towards presenting data that supports the narrative that abortion helps women’s mental health and denial that abortion hurts women’s mental health. Studies are riddled with pro-abortion rhetoric as well as gender-neutrality and pro-LGBT rhetoric within the past few years.

Counselling is required by several states in America before a woman can receive an abortion according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. In some states, this counselling includes informing the expectant mother that having an abortion may result in psychological harm resulting from the procedure. Antonia Biggs, biased researcher in the areas of abortion and contraception from the University of California, San Francisco, claimed in her 2017 interview with Reuters that pre-abortion counselling is “outdated and unnecessary” as there is “no concrete evidence that abortion leads to worse mental health.”

Open access to research, excluding the elite journal subscriptions that universities and research institutions offer, reveals studies that were published most numerously from the 2000s that offer objective data contrary to Biggs’ claim.

A 2005 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) by medical researchers, Dr. L.L. de Veber and Ian Gentles, showed that women who had undergone abortions were more likely to be hospitalized for physical and psychiatric complications as a result. There were also increasing numbers of post-abortion counselling taking place in response to the 10 per cent of post-abortive women requiring counselling for the resultant psychological problems. They state that this does represent a “substantial public health issue, considering that each year more than 100,000 abortions are being performed in Canada.”

Another study, published by David M. Fergusson and colleagues in The British Journal of Psychiatry in 2018 sought to disprove the previous studies, claiming that “research on the link between abortion and mental health has been limited by design problems and weak evidence.” Instead of finding the intended result, their data proved otherwise: women who had undergone abortions had a 30 per cent higher rate of mental health disorders. This accounted for up to 5.5 per cent of the overall rate of mental health disorders.

Numerous other studies published by various researchers and the Elliot Institute from 2000-2009 show that post-abortive women are at a much higher risk of suicide, health complications, other traumas, generalized anxiety disorder, clinical depression, substance abuse, psychiatric hospitalization, domestic violence, and miscarriage of subsequent pregnancies.

Hidden among the recent biased research is a 2023 study published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, echoing the findings of the earlier studies: post-abortive women were four times more likely to increase outpatient visits, six times more likely to be admitted into the hospital and twenty times more likely to increase the length of their stay. Post-abortive women were more likely to have “more pregnancies, more miscarriages, and more than four times as many abortions.”

So why do the media and prestige medical journals report almost exclusively on biased data and outcomes?

The studies themselves have small sample sizes, using a handful of women to represent an ocean of them, overly broad selection criteria for the study, and comparison of data groups that have no statistical reason to be compared. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers tend to publish their studies using only the data that supports the intended outcome of a given experiment or a more positive outcome and exclude data that fails to meet this outcome. Ignoring data that detracts from this outcome is called selection bias – often unintentional — and it greatly jeopardizes the understanding of a given subject within the scientific community. Additionally, there are numerous studies offered to major scientific journals that go unpublished because they do not fit the objective of the journal or are simply too controversial. Studies accepted through the publication process must undergo a rigorous series of revisions from peers within the scientific community, which may result in data that is further excluded or misconstrued to better fit the journal’s criteria.

Moreover, the world has drastically changed over the past 20 years, allowing women more access to information, particularly over the internet. Social media and their algorithms feed women misinformation from biased studies. This increased access puts women into an echo chamber, allowing them to believe that their choice to have their own child killed within their wombs is an empowering, freeing, feminist choice.

Report-based studies are flawed due to their reliance on the truthfulness and awareness of participants in reporting what is required. Additionally, the questions asked by researchers may not cover the complete spectrum of what is being experienced by post-abortive women.

Such studies are dangerous and pose a public health concern as numerous post-abortive women are being silenced when they speak out or seek help for their trauma and mental health. Women are more easily manipulated into believing they are crazy for experiencing poor post-abortion mental health, driving them further into a potentially lethal condition.