By Dave Andrusko
According to a useful definition from Wikipedia, “The third rail of a nation’s politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is ‘charged’ and ‘untouchable’; any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically.”
Are there third rails in the abortion controversy? You betcha—but only on one side of the tracks. Any evidence—including peer-reviewed academic work–that demonstrates the detrimental impact of abortion is always by definition “charged” and “untouchable.” (Needless to say, pro-abortionists never suffer, no matter what they say, as witnessed by what happened in Virginia over its ultrasound law.)
Near the top of the list of items that have never be given a fair shake is the abundant evidence that, at a minimum, 20% of women who have abortions experience significant distress. This so goes against the narrative of abortion as a “right” that “frees ” women that it must be attacked with all guns blazing.
And that is what happened to Dr. Priscilla Coleman. In “Dr. Priscilla Coleman Responds to Recent Media Attacks,” she gives you the background to how a small error, quickly corrected, was turned by pro-abortionists into a justification to ignore the entire results and slam Dr. Coleman personally. Let me just highlight three points.
First, Dr. Coleman and her colleagues are academicians of integrity. When it was brought to their attention that they’d made a statistical error, they acknowledged it, made the appropriate changes, and thanked the researcher who brought it to the attention of the editor of the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Second, contrary to the implication of various hysterical headlines, no one intentionally made “false statements” nor were “erroneous conclusions” drawn. As Dr. Colman made clear in her correction of the original paper, “Fortunately the overall pattern of the results has not changed very much.” Note: the paper was NOT retracted by the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Third, as Dr. Coleman points out, while various media outlets parroted the charges of pro-abortion critics, there was virtually no attention paid to a meta-analysis published last fall. “This meta-analysis appeared in one of the most prestigious psychiatry journals in the world [British Journal of Psychiatry] and the quantitative review incorporating data from 877,181 women offered the largest estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion in the world literature.”
Why is that important, beyond the failure to observe what used to be journalistic canons of balance and objectivity?
Those 22 studies published between 1995 and 2009 involving 877,181 women (of whom 163,831 had abortions) found
— “Women who have had an abortion have an 81 percent higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion.
— “Women who aborted have a 138 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth.
— “Women who aborted have a 55 percent higher risk of mental health problems compared to women with an ‘unplanned’ pregnancy who gave birth.
— “Women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety, depression, alcohol use/misuse, marijuana use, and suicidal behavior, compared to those who have not had an abortion.”
Dr. Coleman said it all when she observed,
“This is an excellent example of the media bias that permeates the study of abortion and mental health.”
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