In 2006 the American Psychological Association began a review of new, post- 1989 research on the mental effects of abortion for women. The APA had previously concluded that there was no risk of mental health problems after abortion for most women.
The new APA conclusion says this: “The best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”1
In coming to this conclusion, the APA did not follow standard scientific practice. The task force report is flawed for the following reasons:
- The task force cites one study only in support of its conclusion
- The task force’s study selection criteria eliminated good studies with implications for the topic
- The task force did not create a standard framework on which to judge each study
- Understanding that abortion is a controversial topic, little effort was made to compensate for possible task force bias: Three of six task force members are authors of studies under review, as well as supporters of abortion as a civil right
- The conclusion is left open to inaccurate interpretation, in part due to vague language.
The report should be withdrawn because of its flawed analysis. Future attempts to review the literature should be undertaken differently: A framework should be established, studies should be judged empirically and the results should be replicable by any other group of psychologists.
Political Science, Part I
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