Abortion and Psychiatric Illness: Yes, There Is a Connection

Yesterday, Psychiatric Times released a short video of Dr. Nada Stotland — a former APA president and former board member of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health — explaining why she believes there’s no direct link between abortion and psychiatric illness:

Her central claim comes at the 0:30 mark, when she says, “The fact is that there’s no good evidence that induced abortion causes psychiatric illness in any meaningful numbers.”

Really?

A “Tidal Wave” of Data

Dr. Priscilla Coleman provides here a list of 30 studies published in the last five years alone that, along with hundreds more, make up what she calls a “tidal wave of sound published data on the emotional consequences of abortion”:

The evidence is accumulating, despite socio-political agendas to keep the truth from the academic journals and ultimately from women to insure that the big business of abortion continues unimpeded. The literature now echoes the voices of millions of women for whom abortion was not a liberating, health promoting “choice.” A conservative estimate from the best available data is 20 to 30 percent of women who undergo an abortion will experience serious and/or prolonged negative consequences.

Any interpretation of the available research that does not acknowledge the strong evidence now available in the professional literature represents a conscious choice to ignore basic principles of scientific integrity.

Women Who Have Abortions “More Emotionally Unstable in the First Place”?

In a 2008 Los Angeles Times article, Stephanie Simon reports that Stotland thinks that it “may be” that “women who have abortions are more emotionally unstable in the first place,” so this video wasn’t the first time she’s floated this idea. (Dr. Coleman responds in detail to Stotland’s claims about the lack of “causality” between abortion and mental health problems here.)

I also find it interesting that as strenuously as pro-choicers object to things like mandatory sonogram legislation on the grounds that these sorts of laws “patroniz[e]” and “infantilize” women, they don’t seem to have any problem with Stotland’s diagnosis of the collective mental health of women seeking abortion.

Then, of course, there are Stotland’s comments (at the 2:25 mark) about women who have abortions and their beliefs about motherhood:

Women have abortions because they feel very serious about motherhood — not because they don’t respect motherhood, but because they do.

How to begin to unpack that?

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