Oft-Cited Study Linking Mental Health Problems to Abortion Debunked

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanier67/5533216942/sizes/m/in/photostream/">lanier67</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The latest issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research includes a scathing critique of a 2009 study it published linking abortion to a variety of mental health problems. Via the New York Times blog Motherlode, the article states that the data the authors of the study relied on doesn’t actually support their “assertions that abortions led to psychopathology.”

That 2009 study linked conditions like panic disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, mania, major depression, and alcohol and drug abuse to women who have had abortions. The paper, from lead author Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University, has been touted by anti-abortion groups and deployed to support state laws requiring doctors to warn women of potential health problems before they can have an abortion in places like South Dakota.

But the results just don’t hold up, according to a critique from Julia Steinberg, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco, and Lawrence Finer, the director of domestic research with the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights group. For one thing, they report, the paper failed to factor in whether the women included in the study had exhibited those mental health problems before having an abortion. Steinberg and Finer reevaluated the data Coleman and her colleagues relied on and found that the conclusions in the paper were not supported by the data. “These deficiencies are fundamental analytical errors that were incorrectly presented in the original paper,” they write, “… not a scholarly difference of opinion.”

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate