Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Abortion Comic Book

A comment on Pharyngula's post about Truth for Youth, a hip'n'happenin' site full of comic books to teach young men and women of a peri-pubertal age all about the wickedness of homosexuality and evolution and birth control, asserts that especially since 1965, we have experienced rising levels of... abortion....

Not true. For the past 14 years we have experienced falling levels of abortion:
Overall, the annual number of legal induced abortions in the United States increased gradually from 1973 until it peaked in 1990, and it generally declined thereafter (Figure 1).

During 1990--1997, the number of legal induced abortions gradually declined. When the same 48 reporting areas are compared, the number of abortions decreased during 1996--2001. In 2000 and 2001, even with one additional reporting state, the number of abortions declined slightly.

I did take a look at the abortion comic mentioned in the post, but don't have much to say about it, mainly because I don't get it. The comic is full of fallacies, and misinformation.

OK, at a minimum, I do have to correct a few of the mistakes:

  • An appendage (a body part that is joined to the axis or trunk of a body) is a term used to denote a particular relationship between body parts. The trunk is a body part, and so is the arm. However, the trunk is not an appendage; the arm is.

  • OR nurses (not floor nurses) scrub and gown before the surgeon, and then they help him/her gown.

  • Floor nurses do not come into the OR in the middle of surgery, and they do not choke patients during procedures (neither do OR nurses, for that matter).

  • Patients are not awake & alert during surgery.

  • Patients are never naked in the OR. They are gowned and draped; only the surgical field is exposed.

  • Patients are not addressed as "Hon".

  • Post abortion syndrome: The medical literature does not support the contention that abortion causes long term trauma.

    [An interesting aside: Overall, the literature indicates that serious psychiatric illness is at least 8 times more common among postpartum than among postabortion women.]

  • It's a D&C (dilatation and curettage), not C&D.

  • OR specimens (including products of conception) do not go in the trash. They are collected, labeled and send to pathology.

  • Brainstem reflexes do not require a forebrain (e.g, an anencephalic [no forebrain] fetus exhibits them). Cognitive activity (feeling/thinking) requires forebrain activity.

  • You don't use a scalpel for a D&C.

  • I can't comment on the substance of the comic because I don't understand why it is necessary to misinform [and discourage critical thinking in young people in the process] to support a particular belief. What's wrong with just stating "We believe x, y, and z (abortion is holocaust, doctors are murderers, etc.), and not everybody shares our belief system. However, if you do, you ought not have an abortion."


    At 12:33 PM, Blogger Emily said...

    I don't think there is a definitive answer in the medical literature on the long-term psychological impact of abortion. Here's a list of articles published in the last few years that run counter to the earlier articles you cite.

    At 3:36 PM, Blogger ema said...


    There is, but I'll try to look at your links (sorry, I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment). I only had time to look at the first one: you probably misinterpreted finding because methodology is so flawed.

    Briefly, initial study found that Most women do not experience psychological problems or regret their abortion 2 years postabortion, but some [6 or 1% in the study] do. Those who do tend to be women with a prior history of depression. Linked study wanted to test if a hx of depression is equally predictive of subsequent depression among women with unintended pregnancies regardless of whether they abort or carry to term. Ignoring the flawed methodology for a moment, all the study is looking at is the predictive value of a prior hx of depression, not depression rates in women after abx.

    At 6:21 PM, Blogger Emily said...

    I only had time to look at the first one: you probably misinterpreted finding because methodology is so flawed.In adding a brief comment to my journal link, I should have merely quoted from the abstract, which says:

    Among married women, those who aborted were significantly more likely to be at "high risk" of clinical depression compared with those who delivered unintended pregnancies.Your assessment that the study is methodologically flawed is, presumably, at odds with the assessments of the editors of the British Medical Journal.

    I'll look forward to your assessments of the other recent studies when you have the time.

    At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Methodology aside, it just seems absurd to wish to believe that abortion - in and of itself - causes depression.

    Pregnancy loss is pregnancy loss is pregnancy loss to the body. As someone who has both miscarried and aborted, I can tell you the body doesn't know the difference.

    A past history of depression would increase post-abortion depression. It seems highly unlikely to me that the procedure of surgical abortion "causes" clinical depression.


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