The Corner

Misinformation and Naivety on Abortion and Mental Health

On Sunday, November 7, the Washington Post published an opinion by Dr. Brenda Major titled “The Big Lie about Abortion and Mental Health.” I would like to offer another perspective on the dishonesty permeating the scientific study of abortion and mental health and the dissemination of information on the topic. Like Brenda Major, I am a tenured full professor at a well-respected American university who has published peer-reviewed scientific articles in reputable journals. (In fact, my publication record far exceeds Dr. Major’s on the topic of abortion and mental health.)

Dr. Major is absolutely correct that an informed choice regarding abortion must be based on accurate information. An unbiased and valid synopsis of the scientific literature on increased risks associated with abortion would include depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders (including PTSD), as well as suicide ideation and behaviors. The body of literature on the subject is made up of hundreds of studies — including 30 in just the last five years — published in major medical and psychological journals throughout the world. The conscientious reader is encouraged to check the studies out. No lies, just scientifically derived information that individual academics, several major professional organizations, and abortion providers have done their best to hide and distort.

Dr. Major’s opinion piece followed on the heels of a highly biased “Task Force Report on Abortion and Mental Health” from the American Psychological Association. Six colleagues and I sent a petition letter to the APA criticizing their methods and conclusions; as a group, the seven of us in 2008 had published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles indicating abortion is associated with negative psychological outcomes.

These two examples are just the latest in a long line of efforts to divert attention from sound published data on the emotional consequences of abortion. The literature now echoes the voices of millions of women for whom abortion was not a liberating, health-promoting choice: A conservative estimate from the best available data is 20 to 30 percent of women who undergo an abortion will experience serious and/or prolonged negative consequences. Yet a socio-political agenda seeks to keep the truth from women in order to ensure that the big business of abortion continues unimpeded.

Any interpretation of the available research that does not acknowledge the strong evidence now available in the professional literature represents a conscious choice to ignore basic principles of scientific integrity. The human fallout from such a choice: misinformed professionals, millions of women struggling in isolation to make sense of a past abortion, thousands who will seek an abortion today without the benefit of known risks, and millions who will make this often life-altering decision tomorrow without the basic right of informed consent. In publishing Major’s opinion without soliciting other voices on the topic, the Washington Post has perpetuated a serious injustice.

Priscilla K. Coleman is a professor at Bowling Green University.

Most Popular


White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The White Ghetto

Editor's Note: In celebration of Kevin D. Williamson’s newest book, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, National Review is republishing some of our favorites of his from the past ten years. This article originally appeared in the December 16, 2013, issue of National ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More