FORSYTHE and SMITH: Disclosing the abortion-suicide association

It’s time to lift the veil on hidden health risks of terminating pregnancy

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A 2006 study by New Zealand researcher David M. Fergusson in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, which controlled for a prior history of depression and anxiety and suicidal ideation (wanting to take one’s own life or thinking about suicide), found that 27 percent to 50 percent of women after abortion reported suicidal ideation. Mr. Fergusson found that the risk of suicide was three times greater for women who aborted than for women who delivered.

A 2010 study by Natalie P. Mota in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found that “abortion was associated with an increased likelihood of several mental disorders - mood disorders … substance abuse disorders … as well as suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.”

Finally, last September, a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Psychiatry found an 81 percent increased risk of mental trauma after abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s objections to giving this information to women are that the “experts,” such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Psychological Association (APA) officially dismiss such risks. A report by the APA in 2008, however, disregarded a number of studies finding an increased risk and chose to focus on a small number of studies that lacked comparison groups and sufficient statistical controls.

In light of these studies in peer-reviewed, international medical journals, there can be no reasonable doubt that information about the “increased risk” of suicide after abortion is “truthful, non-misleading information.”

If given proper weight, these studies amply satisfy the discretion the Supreme Court has recognized to require that women be informed about medical risks. It is time for the federal courts to get out of way of the authority of state legislatures, supported by majority public opinion and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, to ensure that women get full information about the risks of abortion.

Clarke Forsythe is senior counsel for Americans United for Life and Mailee Smith is staff attorney for AUL. They assisted in drafting AUL’s amicus brief in Planned Parenthood v. Rounds.

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