Barbara Hays’ letter of Nov. 21 portrays abortion as “unhealthy” but cites research that has fatal flaws and invalid findings.
The truth: Where abortion is legal, safe, and not stigmatized, choosing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy does not increase women’s risk for negative mental health outcomes. In contrast, where abortion is illegal and denied, women die and children suffer.
Meanwhile, relentless focus on “proving” abortion is unhealthy takes the spotlight off adversities associated with unwanted pregnancy that do harm women, including poverty, childhood sexual abuse, and gendered violence.
The science: Rigorous reviews commissioned by the American Psychological Association and the UK’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges independently conclude: when prepregnancy mental health and adverse social conditions are taken into account, legal abortion under safe and legal conditions does not have significant mental health risks.
The politics: For nearly three decades, the anti-abortion movement has seeded the literature with biased research findings and misrepresented the findings of reputable researchers to argue that “abortion harms women.” As a result, a host of state laws across the United States now force doctors to lie to their patients about abortion risks, and Roe vs. Wade is endangered.
The need for an informed citizenry has never been greater; the misinformation machine, never stronger. I urge all who care about women’s mental health to become informed and correct the record when “fake facts” from pseudoscientific studies are used to erode women’s reproductive rights.
Nancy Felipe Russo
Corvallis (Nov. 26)