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July 12, 2007

Abortion Slogans

I think Matt should go into business as a pro-life campaign consultant. "Abortions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: Some women who've had abortions become thieves. Some get run over by buses."

This is compelling stuff. Of course, I'd like to sell the counter-campaign in favor of abortion: "Abortions can have consequences. For instance, a full 100% of women who have an abortion emerge from the procedure no longer pregnant."

July 12, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Abortions can have complications. Some women who've had abortions go on to have many children. Some become millionaires. Some climb Mount Everest.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Jul 12, 2007 2:40:22 PM

But that isn't true, sometimes one twin is aborted to enhance the chances of the other.

I like:"Abortions can have consequences. For instance, a full 100% of people who have an abortion emerge from the procedure less pregnant."

Posted by: crack | Jul 12, 2007 2:42:00 PM

As I understand it, the underlying claim is that abortion is associated with an increased risk of adverse psychological outcomes, which is probably true. Obviously that needs to be considered in relation to the risks of not having an abortion.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 2:58:24 PM

abortion is associated with an increased risk of adverse psychological outcomes, which is probably true

Compared to not having been pregnant at all, or to bearing an unwanted child?

Posted by: latts | Jul 12, 2007 3:07:52 PM

Some women who don't have abortions are later murdered by their offspring.

Posted by: Gaffer | Jul 12, 2007 3:13:32 PM

Sanpete,

I believe the reputable science is that abortion has fewer negative psychological consequences than giving birth. Attempts going back to the Reagan Administration to demonstrate otherwise have been uniformly unsuccessful.

Posted by: Klein's Tiny Left Nut | Jul 12, 2007 3:15:21 PM

As I understand it, the underlying claim is that abortion is associated with an increased risk of adverse psychological outcomes, which is probably true.

It isn't true. Some women have adverse psychological outcomes from abortion, and others have positive psychological outcomes from abortion. The former seem to be relatively rare, and the latter seem to be common. But it's more complex than simply an either/or reaction anyway. Most women probably have mixed emotions. I expect some degree of sadness is quite common, but so is relief at no longer being pregnant and no longer facing the prospect of having an unwanted child.

Posted by: JasonR | Jul 12, 2007 3:19:11 PM

"________ can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: Some women who've _______ become thieves. Some get run over by buses."

Fill in at will.

Posted by: twig | Jul 12, 2007 3:21:23 PM

Sanpete, I actually did a presentation on my OB rotation entitled "Do abortions make women go crazy." If you ignore David Reardon and one study from New Zealand, the entire rest of the medical literature suggests that women, on average, do not have have worsened psychiatric outcomes.

Most women probably have mixed emotions. I expect some degree of sadness is quite common, but so is relief at no longer being pregnant and no longer facing the prospect of having an unwanted child.

From a policy standpoint, we should be careful to specify feelings vs. mental health outcomes, as the former have minimal impact on our policy decisions compared to the latter.

Posted by: Garrett | Jul 12, 2007 3:49:53 PM

Shorter Sanpete: "in my ongoing campaign of giving any heap of bullshit the benefit of the doubt, I'll give this particular heap of bullshit the benefit of the doubt."

The alternative hypothetical would be a website that discussed childbirth solely in terms of post-natal depression. Would Sanpete give the benefit of the doubt to a statement that read, without qualification: 'After giving birth, you may want to kill yourself.'

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 12, 2007 3:55:30 PM

From a policy standpoint, we should be careful to specify feelings vs. mental health outcomes, as the former have minimal impact on our policy decisions compared to the latter. - Garrett

I find it odd that some, though not all, of the people keen to make the Justice Kennedey type argument about "abortion hurts women's feelings" are the same as those who dismiss "liberals who are more interested in self-esteem than results", e.g. in discussion education.

Posted by: DAS | Jul 12, 2007 5:19:03 PM

Anyway re: this thread ... as usual "the Simpsons did it".

Abortions for some! Small American flags for others!

Posted by: DAS | Jul 12, 2007 5:28:24 PM

Compared to not having been pregnant at all, or to bearing an unwanted child?

Compared to a normal baseline for women, I assume, which is why they need to be put in context. In context, what Mr. Nut says science finds might well be the case:

I believe the reputable science is that abortion has fewer negative psychological consequences than giving birth.

I'm not aware of a lot of really good science on this in relation to the claims currently made. As with many highly charged issues, it has attracted some studies designed to show one thing or another. I'm sure there are some good studies on parts of this, but a comprehensive study would be very difficult, as many of the effects claimed are subclinical and hard to pin down ("how do you feel about your abortion now?"). My understanding is that the claims are either not given proper context or are based on insufficient evidence, in any case.

If you ignore David Reardon and one study from New Zealand, the entire rest of the medical literature suggests that women, on average, do not have have worsened psychiatric outcomes.

Worsened compared to the baseline for women in general? That would be surprising for any operation, especially one with possible direct emotional implications, and tied up with what would sometimes be a bit of wider personal crisis (boyfriend, etc.).

Shorter Sanpete: "in my ongoing campaign of giving any heap of bullshit the benefit of the doubt, I'll give this particular heap of bullshit the benefit of the doubt."

As a counterexample, pseudo, I won't give you the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 5:46:35 PM

sanpete,

You claimed that "it's probably true" that "abortion is associated with an increased risk of adverse psychological outcomes."

This is one of your typically half-baked assertions ("an increased risk" compared to what? Completing the pregnancy? Not becoming pregnant in the first place? Both? Some other possibility?). But whatever you meant exactly, it's up to you to produce evidence to support your assertion. It's not up to others to produce evidence against it. They may choose to do that anyway, but the burden is on you to support your claim, not on others to refute it.

Posted by: JasonR | Jul 12, 2007 6:07:29 PM

As a counterexample, pseudo, I won't give you the benefit of the doubt.

When have you ever given the benefit of a doubt to anything other than rightwing talking points?

Posted by: W.B. Reeves | Jul 12, 2007 6:17:57 PM

Have to say I've never heard of a psychological-health 'baseline for women,' except maybe in Conde Nast magazine quizzes (30-40 score: you're a (Maybe) Mega Mama! You can be happy with kids or without; it's all good. You want to be sure you can properly care for any kids you do have, though, so always keep that in mind when making career and/or romantic choices.). I'm sure the right has a made-up standard, presumably involving a happily submissive helpmeet having precisely as many children as her benevolent husband can financially support, but this definition is of course useless in broader societal terms.

Posted by: latts | Jul 12, 2007 6:20:17 PM

Jason, what I've said is already clear with regard to what you're confused about, both by implication in my original comments and by explicit answers to a question and comments. I haven't asked anyone for evidence of anything, nor implied they ought to produce any, but thanks for the reminder about how burden of proof works. If I decide to prove anything I hope you'll post some more pointless quibbles about it.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 6:21:54 PM

Latts, there are statistics on rates of depression, seeking of psychological help, etc., and studies with controls can establish what is normal in relation whatever it is they're measuring.

I see my personal heckler is back.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 6:27:53 PM

If I decide to prove anything I hope you'll post some more pointless quibbles about it.

Thus speaks the master of reality.

Posted by: W.B. Reeves | Jul 12, 2007 6:29:50 PM

Yip! yip! yip! grrrr.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 6:32:18 PM

I see my personal heckler is back.

Considering the general opinion of your contributions to this blog Sanpete, I'd hardly describe mine as personal.

Posted by: W.B. Reeves | Jul 12, 2007 6:36:13 PM

Sanpete,

If we may descend into the anecdotal, I know a host of women who had abortions in their early 20s or late teens at a time when they were not ready to have children. My observation, for what it's worth, is that each felt enormous relief at not having their lives upended by an unplanned pregnancy. I don't pretend to dwell in a world in which perfect statistical sampling is possible. I am sure the experience of these women may differ in significant ways from differently situated women. However, this relief, at least from the outside, never appears to have changed in any way to regret a couple of decades later.

I am highly skeptical of the usually patronizing claims of trauma epitomized by the recent Justice Kennedy opinion.

Posted by: Klein's tiny left nut | Jul 12, 2007 6:48:18 PM

Mr. Nut, the claims made by the anti-abortion folks about this are consistent with the view that most women have no problems. It's an increased incidence of problems that's claimed, however common they may or may not be. I think your earlier point is related to the biggest problem with this line of argument, that you have to consider any increased trouble from abortion in comparison to the increased troubles of the alternatives. Thus some have suggested that if women are to be presented with evidence relating to increased incidence of problems from abortion, they should also be given the evidence of the increased problems from continued pregnancy and birth, which are bound to be even more impressive. (Then, of course, it would only be fair to show the evidence relating to the greater incidence of joys or happiness or whatever too ....)

I don't see the Kennedy opinion as patronizing in this regard, but that's another topic.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 12, 2007 7:11:02 PM

I think the stress of having a newborn that you didn't really want, often with a father with whom there is no strong connection, at a time in life when you aren't ready would be incredible.

Hell, having a newborn that you planned, really wanted and at a more or less optimal time in life is pretty damn stressful from my experience.

I think in the end that we need to be somewhat modest, recognize that others mileage may vary, and stick up for the concept of freedome of choice based on the idea that individuals are best suited to make these kinds of decisions without government intervention.

Posted by: Klein's tiny left nut | Jul 12, 2007 7:16:43 PM

"Abortions Pregnancies can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: some women say that they feel sad and some use more alcohol or drugs than before. Some women kill themselves."

Is that fine to place on a government website, without qualification? Or should it be left as is, for the benefit of the Quibbling Sanpetes?

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 12, 2007 7:33:22 PM

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