New studies help 'explode myth' about consequences of abortion

by Michael Foust, posted Friday, June 06, 2003 (14 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Several recent studies support pro-lifers' claims that abortion's consequences are far-reaching and affect the emotional and physical well-being of the mother.

Two studies co-written by researcher David Reardon, executive director of the Elliot Institute, link abortion to increased psychological problems.

In one study, Reardon and his colleagues found that women who have aborted their first pregnancy are 65 percent more likely to be at a "high risk" for clinical depression than women whose first pregnancy resulted in a birth.

In another study, focused on low-income women, Reardon and fellow researchers found that those who had an abortion were 2.6 times more likely than women who gave birth to be admitted for psychiatric treatment in the 90 days following the abortion or delivery.

A third report, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that abortions in the second and third trimesters sometimes leave behind tiny bones from the unborn child in the uterus, causing future infertility problems.

Such data helps "explode the myth" that abortion is a "simple solution" with no aftereffects, said William Cutrer, medical director of a pro-life crisis pregnancy center in Louisville, Ky., and associate professor of Christian ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a licensed obstetrician/gynecologist.

"Those who believe that abortion is a good solution ... clearly don't want anything that would suggest there are any aftereffects" to become public knowledge, he told Baptist Press.

The clinic directed by Cutrer ministers to women seeking abortions, giving them a free ultrasound and telling them the truth about pregnancy and abortions. Some of the counselors are Christian women who in the past had abortions, later regretted it and now seek to steer other women away form abortion. Those counselors tell Cutrer that around 90 percent of the women they see have some sort of negative reaction to abortion, including flashbacks, nightmares, depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse. Cutrer described such reactions as part of what is called "post-abortal syndrome."

The negative reactions can occur years after the abortion and can be triggered by the anniversary of the abortion, the anniversary of the due date, the birth of a child and even a salvation experience, Cutrer said.

"For so many women the reaction is delayed," he said. "There is a good bit of denial that goes on."

Family practitioner Don Buckley of Pensacola, Fla., also has seen the consequences of abortion. He said post-abortal women have come to his clinic "racked with guilt" and suffering from such symptoms as insomnia, irritability, anxiety and depression.

"Only God's grace will lead to their repentance and healing," said Buckley, who also serves on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. "God often uses the church community, physicians and counselors to aid in this process."

Both Buckley and Cutrer said the results of Reardon's research are not surprising. If a woman has an abortion but later feels convicted that she killed her child, then "of course depression and even suicidal depression" will follow, Cutrer said. He added that women who have an abortion then later discover that they are infertile decide that God must be punishing them for their abortion.

While such research uncovers the truth on abortion, Cutrer said it will do little to dissuade a woman from having an abortion. At that point, he said, the biggest difference-maker comes from ultrasound machines that show the pregnant woman "it's not a blob of tissue." The newest ultrasound technology, called 4-D, allows the woman to see her baby moving in the womb. The tiniest features, such as the sucking of the thumb, can be seen. The clinic where Cutrer serves employs the new machine.

When women see that a tiny human being is inside them, "the tide turns for us," he said.

The study by Reardon that tied abortion to depression was based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The data was collected between 1980 and 1992 and included 1,884 women.

The study of low-income women was based on a study of 56,741 women who were included in the California Medicaid (called Medi-Cal) system.


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