APA Insider says Report on Abortion is a “Politically-Motivated Exercise” in Support of Legal Aborti

By Hilary White

August 18, 2008 ( - A member of the American Psychological Association and one of the trained psychologists asked by the APA to examine their report on the long-term psychological effects of abortion on women, has concluded that it is nothing more than a "politically-motivated exercise" in support of legal abortion.

Rachel M. MacNair, Ph.D. wrote that after close examination of it, she saw "no evidence" that the APA’s report "was actually interested in keeping up with real science."

The report, published earlier this month, claimed to have examined all the available research literature since 1989. It concluded that there were no significant negative psychological effects on women who have abortions.

But MacNair wrote that the APA report was, in essence, based on a single 1995 study, "Termination of pregnancy and psychiatric morbidity", that examined cases of "psychiatric morbidity" after abortion in British women. MacNair is the director of the Institute for Integrated Social Analysis, the research arm of Consistent Life: An International Network for Peace and Life.

"Setting aside the quality of the study itself," MacNair wrote, "citing only one study in support of a politically-desired conclusion cannot be explained in any other way than a politically-motivated exercise."

Furthermore, noted MacNair, the British study did not support the conclusion, having found more cases of drug overdose in women who had abortions compared to others who had not.

The APA’s report claimed that the only lasting regret women experience is in those cases where the child was "wanted" and had been aborted for foetal abnormalities. The report’s conclusions matched closely the slogans of the abortion lobby in asserting that it is the social "stigma" attached to abortion that causes psychological problems for women and that future research should focus on the "wantedness" of the child.

Dr. MacNair, an APA member on the Association’s Board of Division 48, on "peace psychology", had volunteered to be on a team of reviewers for the Report, giving "feedback from a scientific point of view." She said that her conclusion of the report’s scientific shortcomings was shared by two other experts on the team whom she knew, one of whom is a self-identified "atheist pro-choicer."

MacNair had already complained about the biases of the task force charged with creating the report. She said that there never had been a general call among the membership of the APA for nominations for membership of the task force. By the time the APA’s plans to establish the task force had been made known, its membership had already been decided by Division 35, "psychology of women."

"I knew the fix was in at that point and subsequent events have confirmed this, but I gamely kept trying to talk about balance and science."

MacNair received no response to a memo sent to the APA Council in which she suggested that "a better report would be one that pointed out where the consensus is and where the controversies still are, rather than taking one side in the controversy." Her concerns were ignored when she brought them to the APA Council meeting of Wednesday, August 13.

"To this moment, I don’t have an answer to the basic point of how one study, whether an excellent study or not, could possibly be reasonably seen as supporting a bold and ideologically-desired conclusion."

At the meeting, the vote to admit the report was nearly unanimous, with only six abstentions. MacNair said that she asked the APA Council’s president-elect why no concerns had been addressed, and was told that the Council’s vote was more like a "ribbon-cutting at a building; the building was already built, all the work had already gone in, so that point in time was too late."

Read related

Abortion has no Negative Psychological Consequences: American Psychological Association

Chair of APA Abortion Report Task Force Violates APA Ethics Rules

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Sign up today!

Select Your Edition:

You can make a difference!

Can you donate today?

Share this article