Study defended

Andrew Kehr raised questions of the accuracy (flaws?) of a study on abortion and mental health, published in the September 2011 British Journal of Psychiatry (Jan. 18 Tribune).

Scientific research studies always recognize the possibility of statistical inaccuracy, and the smaller the study the greater the chance for inaccuracies (flaws). Most of the abortion studies available in the past were relatively small and had potential flaws. This is why Dr. P. Coleman at Bowling Green University undertook a meta-analysis study in the first place.

She took the 22 largest studies available since 2000 and combined them for further statistical analysis. (The format for statistical entry and assessment is tightly regimented for meta-analysis.) The idea is that by creating a much larger study population, any inaccuracies (flaws) in one of the individual studies would become much less statistically significant. Her study was the first major quantitative analysis of the after-effects of abortion, and is the largest, most detailed study of abortion ever done (800,000 women and more than 160,000 abortions). For a research study this is huge.

The fact that the reviewers of the British Journal of Psychiatry printed the study shows that the validity of this research passed careful scrutiny. The conclusions were felt, by unbiased observers of the data, to be accurate. So the final figures: after abortion, 81 percent higher incidence of mental disorders, 34 percent more anxiety disorders, 37 percent more depression, 110 percent more alcohol abuse, 230 percent more substance abuse and 150 percent more suicide. These still stand as very disturbing findings and cannot be lightly dismissed.

Finally, for the record, Roe v. Wade did not set any limits on abortion. For the first year after the decision, abortion was technically legal at any time of pregnancy. It was the work of subsequent state legislatures and Supreme Court decisions that allowed current restrictions.

Dr. Richard French

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