Friday, January 18, 2008

One More Time: PAS Doesn't Exist

As a follow-up to this LA Times article about men and abortion, Sarah Blustain has an article in The Nation about the tactic and why, as ridiculous as it sounds, you'll likely be seeing more of it and why we can't just laugh it off.

But in light of something I have been challenged about, the validity of the so-called Post-Abortion Syndrome, I wanted to highlight this passage.

The data to prove the existence of PAS come from a combination of deeply flawed original research--featuring tiny samples and lack of controls--and the manipulation of large samples into correlations from which pseudo-researchers claim causation. Among the most prominent forms of "data" circulating in the American political system are a few thousand PAS testimonies collected with the express purpose of being used in court to help overturn Roe v. Wade--hardly a scientific sample.

This is not to say that some people don't experience mixed emotions after abortion. Indeed, experts suggest that complex feelings after abortion are common and compare these to similar dynamics around marriage, childbearing and other major life decisions.

But PAS advocates aren't talking about everyday ambivalence or even sadness: they're talking about devastating, life-changing pathology, which mainstream research simply does not support. Post-Abortion Syndrome does not exist in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the widely used guide to accepted disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association convened a task force that is completing a major review of all the postabortion research; this year it is expected to offer a serious critique of those studies and the methodologies used to compose them. Indeed, studies tend to show that the biggest predictor of postabortion troubles is preabortion troubles. Of the link between abortion and postabortion psychological problems, Nada Stotland, president-elect of the APA, says "it's a dead horse."
PAS doesn't exist. It Does NOT EXIST. Having an abortion does not cause or correlate to long-term unhappiness or unhealthiness. Do people who have abortions sometimes have long-term unhappiness or unhealthiness, yes. Did abortion CAUSE THOSE OUTCOMES? The sciencetific community that has evidence and studies for every other pschological diagnoses says no. Other factors prior to the abortion are the likely cause.

Now does having an abortion (or seeing the woman you had sex with have an abortion) cause emotions? Sure. So does getting a divorce. Doesn't mean we outlaw divorce. It just means if it effects you, maybe you should get counseling. Not recommend that maybe the law should have stopped you and everyone else from getting a divorce.

I am *so* looking forward to APA's task force's findings on postabortion research. I know it won't put the "syndrome" to bed but for a lot of the media if the APA definitively says "it doesn't exist" then they'll at least use the phrase "so-called post-abortion syndrome."


Anonymous said...

Dear Newscat,
what requirement would you have for proof that PAS does exist*?

We must remember of course that correlation is not always causation. But, what is needed for procedure A causes effect B for us to see that procedure A is dangerous.
Insert abortion, blogging, smoking, driving drunk, suntanning, tattoos, sex w/o condom, voting Republican,....

Secondly...I have to agree with you...just because I regret doing something doesn't mean that it should be against the law. I lean libertarian, if it don't hurt anyone else, I should be allowed to do it. There needs to be a strong/good compelling reason for the government to restrict my freedoms when only I am to be harmed by my actions.

(So, by my logic, motor-cycling w/o helmet should be allowed.)

*Someone asked an evolutionary biologist what he would need for proof against evolution, he quickly said, "finding rabbit fossils in the Jurassic period."

Anonymous said...

Motor cycling without a helmet doesn't necessarily harm anyone else. Abortion, by definition, always does.

I don't know if PAS exists, any more than I know if evolution is fact or if global warming is primarily caused by carbon-based fuels. But I do know that dismissing it so enthusiastically doesn't pass the smell test. It is like tobacco companies arguing that smoking doesn't cause cancer. Sure, it might be true, but the motivation behind the position sheds doubt on the position.

Jim in Cleveland

Anonymous said...

Dear Newscat,

Open-mindedness never hurt anyone!!

You know The idea of immunizations being a factor in Autism didn't exist and the medical community refused to admit it until a few short months ago either! Since when did the medical community become super-human, all-being all-knowing. Need I remind you that we're all the same breed of human capable of being WRONG WRONG WRONG all the time?????

Am I getting through?

If a mother can suffer from PTSD from a miscarriage or a still birth why in the world would you ever think that someone who deliberately contributes to the death of their unborn child wouldn't have lasting issues, implications, and serious emotional damage???

Hope this got you thinking but somehow considering the close mindedness here I highly doubt it!!

V.A. Jeffrey said...

There was once a time when the military denied that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder existed. Never mind the fact that untold thousands of Vietnam vets were coming back completely whacked out and mentally broken. PTSD didn't exist until the din of voices broken down/drug addicted/alcoholic and homeless vets that kept crying out couldn't be ignored.

Looks like Pro-choice movement is following the military's pattern of denial.

NewsCat said...

Ahhhh, but Vargas not every vet that came home from Vietnam suffered PTSD or suffered life-long lasting debilitating trauma. (The key word is debilitating...not did X event effect you, but did X event prevent you from performing otherwise normal activities.)

The reason why I am dismissing PAS is not because I am refusing to see the evidence. The evidence isn't there to show that "abortion" in and of itself causes permenant harm. No one is claiming that someone who has an abortion might not spiral into a depression (just as someone who has a miscarriage or a rape might not also go into a depression.)

By the way have none of you also heard of postpartum depression? Where giving birth can lead to suicidal thoughts and near inability to take care of oneself? Why is that not a "bigger" concern than PAS to you? Why shouldn't postpartum depression, the description of which can be made to sound as horrifying as possible, be told to all women who want to give birth. "Don't GIVE BIRTH! IT MAKES YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF!!!!"

The point isn't tit for tat. The point is women can judge for themselve the risks, and inflating an unsubstantiated "risk" in order to scare women isn't really a good way to force them to bare children when they don't wan to.

I guess it does bug when someone wants to inflate the risks of having an abortion (which while safe, of course has risks. Getting a root canal has a "risk") but then completely ignores or discounts the real and very proven risks to giving birth.