- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

Women who have abortions are 65 percent more likely to experience clinical depression than those who carry their pregnancies to term, according to a recent study.

“It has been frequently claimed that abortions have no negative psychological effects. This study shows this is clearly not the case,” said David Reardon, executive director of the Elliot Institute, a nonprofit, pro-life corporation focused on post-abortion research and education.

The long-term effects of an abortion “should be a high priority in federally funded research,” said Mr. Reardon, who co-wrote the study with Jesse Cougle, psychology professor at the University of Texas, and Priscilla Coleman, human-development director at Bowling Green State University.

In 1988, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop asked for a study on the issue of abortion complications. Congress denied the request.

Mr. Reardon said it is past time for such a study to “examine all interactions between women’s physical and mental health, including not only reactions to abortion, but also to study PMS, postpartum depression, menopause and more.”

Margaret R. Johnston, president of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, said that she would be interested if research proved conclusive medical effects from abortions, but that she believes that now there is “no such 65 percent figure.”

She has designed a workbook for women contemplating an abortion that includes “all the options as fairly as possible” but does not include findings from medical studies because “none of these studies agree.”

“This is not an academic decision. It is an individual one,” she said.

Mr. Reardon said pro-choice groups do not provide women with information that would allow them to weigh the positive or negative effects of their choice.

“Those who wave the flag of choice claim that it’s not about whether abortion is a good or poor choice; it’s about what women decide. But they ignore that women want to know whether their choice will have good or poor repercussions,” Mr. Reardon said.

“To ignore the psychological and physical effects on women who have had an abortion is ideological, disconnected from real life,” Mr. Reardon said. “This is a disservice to women.”

The Elliot study is based on data from an Ohio State University study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor that spans 21 years and annual assessments from 1,884 women.

The research involved more precise methods compared with other studies, such as information on prior psychological state, nationally representative participants, consideration of sociodemographic factors and long-term assessments, Mr. Reardon said.

But he said the study, the sixth in a series on the psychological effects of abortion, could be more precise.

The data underrepresent the risk to women because “the women most likely to conceal previous abortions are the ones most likely to experience clinical depression later on,” which is what Mr. Reardon says he believes happened with subhjectsin this study.

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