Study Attempts to Minimize the Connection between Depression and Abortion

Today on National Review Online, a good friend of the SBA List, Witherspoon fellow, and University of Alabama professor, Dr. Michael J. New critiqued a recent study released by the Guttemacher Institute.  The study claims to show that girls in grades 7-12 were at no higher risk for being depressed if they had an abortion than those who chose to give birth.  The study was published by the Guttemacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood. 

Dr. New points out that the sample size of the study was questionably small, with only 69 teens who had abortions providing feedback.  He argues this sample size is not large enough to make any definitive conclusions from.  The data was taken from a group of 7,500 teens from 1994-1996.  The annual teen abortion rate was 30 per 1,000 girls.  It would be expected for 225 teens to have reported an abortion, however only 69 did.  This discrepancy brings the credibility of the survey into question.

In addition, the measure of depression used in the sample was self-reporting—clearly not as reliable as professional counseling reporting psychological issues, as a healthy girl is more likely to report an abortion than a depressed teen.  The study attempts to refute the wealth of data highlighting a connection between abortion and depression, particularly among teenagers.  A study proving otherwise could possibly discredit laws that force teens to seek counseling before an abortion and parental involvement.  It is critical that people are aware of the shortcomings of this survey, as it is clearly flawed in more ways that one.  New writes:

“Overall, there is a significant amount of evidence, both anecdotal and in public-health journals, about the negative psychological effects of abortion. In a country where abortion remains legal, it would be heartening to see an organization like Guttmacher make meaningful efforts to assist women who are suffering with the aftermath of abortions, instead of pretending these problems do not exist.”

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