The Elliot Institute News
From the Leader in Post-Abortion Research
Vol. 7, No. 14 -- September 4, 2008

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Lancet: Women Should Be Offered Post-Abortion Counseling

But Prestigious Medical Journal Accepts
APA Spin on Abortion Risks


An editorial published in the most recent edition of the The Lancet, one of the most respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, calls for women to  be offered post-abortion psychological care.


The editorial came in response to a report published in August by a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA), which concluded that "there is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women."


As we noted previously in The Elliot Institute News, the APA task force was stacked with known abortion advocates and the group ignored credible studies (including one authored by the task force's own chair, Brenda Major) tying abortion to an increased risk of subsequent psychological problems.


While The Lancet editorial did not dispute the APA's interpretation of the research, it also noted that "the fact that some women do experience psychological problems should not be trivialized." It seems to be a small step in the right direction if the editors are recognizing that at least some women suffer problems after abortion and are calling for appropriate counseling to be offered.






Abortion Advocate Ignores Evidence of Forced Abortions, Abortion Risks For Teens


Among the criticisms that followed the news that the teenage daughter of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin is pregnant, is the suggestion from former Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt that Palin and her husband may be forcing their daughter to have the baby.


According to, Feldt stated that 17-year-old Bristol Palin "probably feels powerless right now," and that because of her parents' pro-life views, "she probably doesn't feel that she has a choice in terms of what will happen to her."


Ironically, Feldt is the former head of an organization that has been caught covering up cases in which teenage girls are forced into abortion by sexual predators, and has also been accused of concealing information that women need to make decisions about abortion.


Unwanted Pregnancies, or Unwanted, Coerced and Forced Abortions?


For example, in 2002, a judge found a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arizona negligent for failing to report a case in which a 13-year-old girl was impregnated by her 23-year-old foster brother, who then took her for an abortion. Planned Parenthood did not notify authorities until the girl returned six months later for a second abortion. A lawsuit alleged that the girl was subjected to repeated abuse and a second abortion because Planned Parenthood failed to notify authorities of possible abuse when she had her first abortion. The girl's foster brother was later imprisoned for abusing her.1


In another case, a teen is suing Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio after she had an abortion there, saying she told staff that her father was sexually abusing her but that the abortion business did not report the abuse to authorities.2


And an undercover investigation by the pro-life group Life Dynamics in 2002 found that many abortion businesses were willing to help conceal sexual abuse. A Life Dynamics staff member called abortion businesses around the country, posing as a pregnant 13-year-old girl with a 22-year-old "boyfriend." According to transcripts of the calls published by Life Dynamics, staffers at many abortion clinics told the girl to conceal her age and details of the case or gave her tips about how to circumvent authorities in order to obtain an abortion so her parents would not have to know of the sexual relationship.


In addition, a survey of women who had abortions found that 64 percent of American respondents reported feeling pressured to abort by others and more than 80 percent said they weren't given enough information to make a decision about abortion.3 And a survey of women in post-abortion support groups found that more than 83 percent said they would have continued the pregnancy if they had been given more support from others.4


Higher Risk Factors for Teens


Evidence also suggests that abortion may put teens at greater risk for mental health problems, even when the pregnancy is unintended. A study published in  the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in 2006 found that adolescent girls who abort unintended pregnancies are five times more likely to seek subsequent help for psychological and emotional problems compared to their peers who carry "unwanted" pregnancies to term.


Further, the study found that adolescents who had abortions were over three times more likely to report subsequent trouble sleeping and nine times more likely to report subsequent marijuana use.5


Previous studies have also found that younger abortion patients may be more likely to experience difficulties coping after abortion, including a higher risk of suicide, compared to older women. Teens are also more likely to abort because of pressure from their parents or partner, more likely to report being misinformed in pre-abortion counseling, and more likely to have greater difficulty coping after abortion.


The Elliot Institute has called for legislation that would hold abortion businesses liable for failing to screen women and teens undergoing abortion for coercion or force, as well as for risk factors that make them likely to experience psychological problems after abortion.


For more information on this issue, see our Teen Abortion Risk Fact Sheet. Other free educational resources on unwanted, coerced and forced abortions and abortion risks can be found here.






1. "Planned Parenthood Found Negligent in Reporting Molested Teen's Abortion," Pro-Life Infonet, attributed to Associated Press; December 26, 2002.

2. Gudrun Schultz, "Planned Parenthood Sued over Failure to Report Teen’s Incest Pregnancy,", May 17, 2007.

3. VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16 (2004).

4. D. Reardon, Aborted Women, Silent No More (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002) 11.

5. For more on this study, read Is Abortion Better for Teens Than Having An Unwanted Birth?






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