Finding stuff

Hey! Thanks for checking out my blog. I had my abortion in Dec 2008, so you can find most of the posts about the nitty gritty by clicking on "2008" in the blog archives, and checking out things from there.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Study on post-abortion mental health

There's a lot of things I like about science. The search for truth and reason, the struggle to avoid personal bias, and the attention to detail in methodology. And the mind-bogglingly awesome things that are figured out through science. I mean, I really love science.

Of course, science is really hard to do well, because you have to set your cultural values aside and have a thorough understanding of what your personal biases could be, and the excellent skills to keep them from affecting your study. That isn't so hard when you are studying something like... whether or not the 11-aminoacid long Tarsal-less peptides trigger a cell signal in Drosophila leg development (they do, FYI).

But it is a little trickier when you are studying something socially charged- like women's mental health after abortion. But the fact that it is hard means we need good science even more. There is so much crap out there, and a huge misinformation campaign by the prolife movement.

I wanted to share some information from a recent study by the American Psychological Association.

This was a review of several studies in the last 20 years. They found:

"A critical evaluation of the published literature revealed that the majority of studies suffered from methodological problems, often severe in nature."

In other words, the prolife movement has produced a lot of pseudo-science to back up their beliefs, but close examination shows extensive problems with their methods. No shocker there, but the prolifers will use those studies to try and refute this thorough review which found:

“The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”

“The few published studies that examined women’s responses following an induced abortion due to fetal abnormality suggest that terminating a wanted pregnancy late in pregnancy due to fetal abnormality appears to be associated with negative psychological reactions equivalent to those experienced by women who miscarry a wanted pregnancy or who experience a stillbirth or death of a newborn, but less than those who deliver a child with life-threatening abnormalities.”

“This review identified several factors that are predictive of more negative psychological responses following first-trimester abortion among women in the United States. Those factors included perceptions of stigma, need for secrecy, and low or anticipated social support for the abortion decision; a prior history of mental health problems; personality factors such as low self-esteem and use of avoidance and denial coping strategies; and characteristics of the particular pregnancy, including the extent to which the woman wanted and felt committed to it. Across studies, prior mental health emerged as the strongest predictor of post-abortion mental health. Many of these same factors also predict negative psychological reactions to other types of stressful life events, including childbirth, and, hence, are not uniquely predictive of psychological responses following abortion.”

There is so much fascinating stuff in this report, and I encourage you to peruse. I haven't read the whole thing yet (it's pretty darn long) but am going to keep looking through it.

As for my mental health, I'm pretty much in the same place I was before the abortion. I'm still insecure about the things I'm insecure about, but overall I'm generally happy with myself, and doing a-ok. I attribute the fact that I am not having post-abortion anxiety or depression to the fact that I am loved and supported by my community, and that I don't buy the prolife hype.


placenta sandwich said...

thank you, thank you, thank you. at least once a week someone i am working with asks me this - "won't i feel depressed afterward", etc - and this is exactly what i tell them. the best predictor of your mental state after an abortion is your mental state before an abortion; an abortion will not fix your problems if there was a problem in your life other than your unwanted pregnancy; most women say they are relieved after an abortion; the people who do best are those who have support and someone to talk to about whatever they are feeling, so whatever you do try to find someone like that in your life. and then i give them the exhale hotline - it is a non-directive non-judgmental (pro-choice in my view, but they have adopted the term "pro-voice" recently) hotline for talking about whatever you want to talk about after an abortion, and just to plug it here, it is 866-4-EXHALE.

anyway, basically i tell them everything that's in the meta-studies and then inwardly wonder if they think i am just propagandizing. i guess i worry that after seeing anti-choice people wielding science with no shame, they might understandably think that everybody does the same thing. so yeah, thanks again for writing this.

AbortionBlogger said...

Placenta Sandwich, you would probably also like this post from unexpecting: Not Guilty

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I have to say that I think it is great that you are doing this. I'm pro-choice, which to all you prolifers out there, does not equal pro-abortion, and find the information that you are making available to other woman priceless. My gyno recently told me that the problems I was having were most likely due to a pregnancy that I miscarried (very early on). I told my boyfriend about it and we really had to sit down and think about our options if an unplanned pregnancy ever reared its ugly head again. I am so glad that I know about your site now! Thank you, you are providing valuable information that no woman should be denied. PS: I also like your comments about science, funny what you can learn when you are forced to let go of your biases and look at the cold, hard facts. Thanks again!!