The Elliot Institute News
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Vol. 9, No. 1 -- Jan. 22, 2010
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Study Linking Poor Pre-Abortion Counseling and PTSD Shows
Need for New Legislation
Research Finds Poor Counseling Predicts
Post-Abortion Psychological Problems
A new study has found that poor counseling before abortion is more likely to be followed by symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems.1
The results from an online survey of women and men who had been involved in a past abortion, published in the journal Traumatology, showed that inadequate counseling and disagreement between the partners about having the abortion were predictors for psychological and relationship problems.
For women, inadequate counseling was liked to relationship problems, psychological problems such as hyperarousal, intrusion or avoidance behaviors; and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Men, on the other hand, were more likely to experience experience relationship problems and symptoms of intrusion and avoidance after inadequate pre-abortion counseling.
For both women and men, disagreement about the abortion decision meant they were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD or to experience some PTSD symptoms.
Overall, 54 percent of the women and 43 percent of the men reported all the symptoms for a clinical diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Approximately 80 percent of women and 77 percent of men had at least one symptom of PTSD, and nearly 80 percent of women and 60 percent of men reported that the abortion experience was highly or overwhelmingly stressful.
The authors noted that the stress surrounding an unplanned or crisis pregnancy tends to lead to psychological vulnerability.
"The emotional strain and crisis and the lack of effectiveness of one's usual coping mechanisms may result in anxiety and an inability to function," they wrote. "... Thus, men and women facing a crisis pregnancy may need considerable more counseling than is currently being offered."
Most Women Don't Receive Adequate Counseling
Indeed, a previous survey of American and Russian women found that 84 percent of American women reported that they didn't receive adequate counseling before abortion, with 67 percent reporting that they didn't receive any counseling before the abortion and more than 50 percent saying they felt rushed or uncertain about the decision. Further, 64 percent said they felt pressured to abort and the same percentage reported that they didn't feel supported by their partner.
The same study found that 65 percent of American women reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, and that they attributed their symptoms to abortion.
Women themselves have reported that they want proper counseling before abortion. One survey found that 95 percent of women said they wanted to be informed of all the risks before undergoing an elective procedure such as abortion.
Unfortunately, much pre-abortion counseling—when it is offered—gives women and their partners or families deceptive or inadequate information in order to reassure or sell them on abortion, rather than helping them find the the best support and resources possible.
The Need for Legislation to Protect Women's Rights
Dr. David Reardon, the director of the Elliot Institute, says that the results of this latest survey point to a need for legislation proposed by the Stop Forced Abortions Alliance, which would hold abortion businesses liable for failing to screen women for coercion or for known factors that put them at risk for post-abortion psychological problems. This legislation was recently introduced in Missouri by state Rep. Cynthia Davis.
Without such legislation, it is nearly impossible for women who suffer psychological injuries from a coerced or unsafe abortion to hold the abortionist liable for even gross negligence in regard to pre-abortion screening and counseling," Reardon said.
"Proper screening will reduce abortion rates, especially among women being pressured into unwanted abortions or unsafe abortions, and will also reduce the rate of psychological illness associated with abortion," he added. "But the only way to that goal is remove the barriers which prevent women from holding abortionists liable for negligent screening and counseling."
Learn more: To learn more about the Elliot Institute's model legislation, continue reading the article below. More information can also be found here.
1. Catherine Coyle, Priscilla Coleman and Vincent Rue, "Inadequate Preabortion Counseling and Decision Conflict as Predictors of Subsequent Relationship Difficulties and Psychological Stress in Men and Men," Traumatology XX(X): 1-15 (2010).
See this article online.
Abortion Exploits and Enslaves Women, Expert Warns
An expert on violence against women has warned that the "right to abortion" enslaves women and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Iñigo Urien Azpitarte of the organization Professionals for Ethics said that abortion puts women in a position of inequality and makes it easier for those who don't want to take responsibility to leave her without support if she becomes pregnant.
"Thus, if a man thinks that abortion is an easily accessible option for a woman, he will easily feel disconnected from her and leave her with an unwanted pregnancy—since she can easily obtain an abortion,” he said.
"“While it is true that some women can resist pressure and refuse to abort, the legalization of abortion creates a vicious circle from which many others cannot escape,” he added.
Azpitarte's comments were borne out in an article published in August on a popular men's web site that advised men on how to pressure or coerce their partner into abortion.
In the article, which was withdrawn after multiple complaints, author Isabella Snow suggested that the man threaten to withdraw his support if the woman has the baby anyway. She wrote that men aren't obligated to support their child "beyond what your conscience and the law expects of you."
"This was her decision, not yours, and the bulk of the responsibility is now hers," Snow wrote. "Take a moment to spell this out for her when she gives you her final decision; it just may sway her over to your side."
Coercion Happening Everywhere
One survey found that 64 percent of American women who had undergone abortions said they felt pressured by others to abort. Further, there is no evidence that abortion businesses are attempting to give women viable options or make sure that the woman or girl really wants to abort. The same survey found that:
67 percent of American respondents said they received no counseling beforehand,
84 percent said they did not receive adequate counseling, and
79 percent said they were not counseled on alternatives to abortion.
Men, too, can often be the victim of coercive tactics on the part of abortion counselors or may be told that they have no say in the abortion decision. Several posters on the askmen.com site pointed out that men have no legal right to stop an abortion from happening if they do want to have their child.
Although the article has now been withdrawn, it points to a need for better efforts to stop unwanted, coerced and dangerous abortions. The Elliot Institute has proposed legislation that would hold abortion businesses liable for failing to screen for coercion or for other factors that put the woman or girl at risk for psychological problems after abortion.
Learn more: To learn more about the Elliot Institute's model legislation, visit www.stopforcedabortions.com/initiative.htm.
See this article online.
Unwanted, Unsafe and Unnecessary Abortions Are Preventable
it would only take a few minutes for abortion counselors to inquire of a pregnant woman: "Is someone else encouraging you to have this abortion? Do you want this abortion or are you doing it at the request of someone else? Are you feeling pressured to have this abortion by any other person? Are you feeling forced to abort because of violence, fear, threats or pressure? Do you feel any attachment to this pregnancy or any desire to keep it?"
These questions could prevent countless unwanted abortions.
These questions can lead to referrals for family and intervention counseling, or shelters from abuse, which could help thousands of women avoid unwanted abortions.
These questions can help save lives. By helping women avoid unwanted abortions we are helping them to welcome an unexpected baby into the world, one that she wants, even if her loved ones don't. And through good referrals, we can also help her find the resources and counseling she needs to convince her boyfriend, husband, parents, or other pressuring parties that they should respect her desires and welcome her child into their lives too.
With time, most people can adjust and welcome an "unexpected" baby into their lives.
But today, abortion providers are free to ignore these questions. And sadly, to save time during patient intake, most do.
The sad reality is that many abortion providers simply do abortions on request, no questions asked. Whenever they fail to screen for coercion or other risk factors, they are neglecting their obligation to their patients and missing the opportunity to help women in the ways they want and deserve.
Americans Are Concerned
Even though Americans have been kept in the dark about unwanted abortions, nearly half of voters surveyed believe coerced abortion is common. They would support leaders who advocate legislation holding abortionists liable for failing to screen for evidence of coercion.1
The Legislative Effort
The Prevention of Coerced and Unsafe Abortions Act simply defines that it is an act of medical negligence not to make at least a good faith effort to screen for evidence of coercion. It further provides that only the woman can hold the abortion provider accountable for any failure to do proper screening. This act does not interfere with the private decision of a woman and her doctor. But it does allow women to better hold doctors accountable for providing adequate screening and counseling.
Learn more: To learn more about this bill, and how you can help, visit http://www.stopforcedabortions.com/.
1. “National Opinion Survey of 600 Adults Regarding Attitudes Toward a Pro-Woman/Pro-Life Agenda,” Scott Rasmussen Public Opinion Research commissioned by the Elliot Institute, conducted in Dec. 2002.
See this article online.
National Cancer Institute Admits Abortion Raises Breast Cancer Risk
—But Why Aren't Women Being Told?
A paper on the link between contraception and breast cancer published this past April also included an admission from National Cancer Institute researchers that abortion raises women's breast cancer risk by 40 percent. Yet advocates for women are wondering why major research groups and breast cancer advocacy groups still aren't telling women about the risk.
The paper, headed by Jessica Dolle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, not only found that oral contraceptives are a probable cause of breast cancer in women under age 45, but also contained findings from NCI researchers that abortion raised the risk of breast cancer by 40 percent.
The paper included abortion on a list of "known and suspected risk factors" for breast cancer. The study cited was headed by Louise Brinon of NCI, who, critics say, was the chief organizer of the 2003 NCI workshop on the abortion-breast cancer link which falsely assured women that the non-existence of the link was 'well-established.'"
Brinton had also previously worked on a 1996 study study of women that found reported increased risk of breast cancer after abortion of 20-25 percent, according to the Coalition on Abortion Breast Cancer.
Coalition president Karen Malec stated that "[a]lthough the study was published nine months ago, the NCI, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and other cancer fundraising businesses have made no efforts to reduce breast caner rates by issuing nationwide warnings to women."
"Obviously, more women will die of breast cance if the NCI fails in its duty warn about the risk of [oral contraceptives] and abortion and if government funds are used to pay for both as part of any healthcare bill," Malec added.
See this article online.
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