Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Dr. J Show Explores Abortion Breast Cancer Link

“Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we chose to focus on the abortion breast cancer link -- ABC,” said Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

“On the latest Dr. J Show, I interviewed Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, MD, who has spent decades documenting the ABC link.”

Before her retirement, Dr. Lanfranchi spent more than 33 years as a breast cancer surgeon practicing in New Jersey. She is also the co-founder and president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.

Morse noted: “Only 15% of women who smoke get cancer, while 5-10% of women who’ve had an abortion get breast cancer. In both cases, the risk is very real.”


Lanfranchi reported: “In a period when 48 million abortions were done on American women, the incidence of breast cancer rose 40%.” Moreover, “Romania enjoyed one of the lowest breast cancer rates when abortion was illegal but has developed one of the world’s highest rates since abortion was legalized.”

She added, “By 1995, after abortion was widely legalized in the West, 17 studies worldwide (8 on American women) showed a statistically significant abortion breast cancer link.”

Morse charged: “Some in the medical community and media have either ignored or tried to discredit this research. But our first concern should be women’s health, not trying to bolster a political position, for or against abortion.”



Ruth Inst: “Cuties” Proves Need for Presidential Debate on Family Issues

Commenting on the outrage provoked by the child pornography of Netflix’s “Cuties,” Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said: “With this highly eroticized portrayal of 11-year-old girls, the global ruling class is once again pushing the envelope on pedophilia. This latest example of the pornification of our culture shows the need for a 4th presidential debate, exclusively on issues impacting the family.”

Partnering with LifeSite, the Ruth Institute has an online petition calling for a debate focusing on what the candidates would do to strengthen the family and counter the various threats to the family.

The petition currently has more than 5,700 signers.

“‘Cuties’ is just the latest example of a growing anti-family culture,” Morse said. “Others include the two egregious Supreme Court rulings at the end of June, one striking down the mildest restrictions imaginable on abortion, and the other which would allow so-called transgenders to participate in women’s sports – thus effectively ending women’s sports.”

 


 

Such a debate might include the following questions for the candidates:

  • Would you have your Attorney General investigate the possibility of bringing up Netflix on child pornography charges?
  • Should pornography be declared a public health crisis on the federal level, as it has in 16 states?
  • Do you support a born-alive law to protect abortion survivors?
  • Should foreign aid be conditioned on recipients accepting Western sexual norms, including legalizing abortion and normalizing homosexual relations?
  • What is your opinion of medically unnecessary surgeries and drugs for minors trying to change the sex of their bodies?

“Questions such as these will not be asked in the three scheduled debates September 29 and October 15 and 22, but for families, they are just as relevant as energy policy, trade, and public health concerns. That’s why we’re pushing so hard for a fourth debate on family issues,” Morse explained.

Sign the petition here.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Pornography and sexual exploitation were topics included in the Ruth Institute’s recent Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact info@ruthinstitute.org.

 


Petition asks for fourth presidential debate focused on pro-life, family issues

This article was first posted September 11, 2020, at LifeSiteNews.

By Paul Smeaton

LifeSiteNews and the Ruth Institute have launched a petition calling for an additional presidential debate to be held focusing on family issues, the cornerstone of American life.

“Everything begins with the family. Everything depends on the family. It impacts every area of life,” the petition reads.

“A strong economy depends on the next generation learning the virtues of hard work and discipline in the family. Strong national defense requires individuals who are willing to sacrifice for their families, even more than the national interest.”


Three debates are scheduled on September 29, October 15, and October 22, to cover public health, including COVID-19, public safety, the economy, and defense/foreign policy.

But Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., says that there must be a debate focused on family issues, because “the decline of the family is at the root of most of our problems.”

“Honestly, I’m shocked that we even have to state this obvious point: Every human life begins with a family. Every significant challenge the United States faces can be improved by strengthening the family,” she said.

At such a debate, voters could hear clear answers on important questions from the two men bidding to become president. The debate could address questions such as:

What do you intend to do about the horror of legalized abortion?

What are your views on sex-selection abortion and disability-selection abortion?

What are your views on medically unnecessary surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones for minor children?

Would your administration declare pornography a public health crisis, as 16 states have already done?

Morse points out that the breakdown of the family and the over-sexualization of society create massive problems which affect the economy, the criminal justice system, public health, education, and even national defense.

“The rioting in our cities is in part the result of family breakdown,” she said.

“We’re calling for one debate focused exclusively on what the candidates will do to support the family.”

Morse says that unless pro-family advocates raise their voices then issues like marriage, the right to life, parental rights in education and health, sex education in schools, pornography, population control, and declining fertility will be overlooked entirely or treated as an afterthought during this election.

“We believe this is the first time such a debate has been proposed by anyone,” Morse said. “We at the Ruth Institute and our friends at LifePetitions think it’s about time.”

PETITION: Call for an additional Presidential Debate on Family Issues! Sign the petition here.



Ruth Inst. and Life Site News Launch Petition for Presidential Debate on the Family

Partnering with Life Site News, today, the Ruth Institute launched a petition to the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates calling for a 4th debate to be focused on the family.

Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., explained: “The decline of the family is at the root of most of our problems. We’re calling for one debate focused exclusively on what the candidates will do to support the family.”

She continued: “Honestly, I’m shocked that we even have to state this obvious point: Every human life begins with a family. Every significant challenge the United States faces can be improved by strengthening the family. The breakdown of the family and the over-sexualization of society create massive problems affecting the economy, the criminal justice system, public health, education, and even national defense. The rioting in our cities is in part the result of family breakdown.”


Three debates are scheduled on September 29, October 15, and October 22, to cover public health, including COVID 19, public safety, the economy, and defense/foreign policy.

Morse said, “These are all important issues to be sure. But unless something is done immediately, the family will once again be ignored. Issues like marriage, the right to life, parental rights in education and health, sex education in schools, pornography, population control, and declining fertility will be overlooked entirely or treated as an afterthought.”

She added: “We believe this is the first time such a debate has been proposed by anyone. We at the Ruth Institute and our friends at Life Petitions think it’s about time.”

Sign the petition here.


Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution

The Ruth Institute’s conference explores the tragic effects of an “anything goes” culture.

by Kathy Schiffer, July 25, 2020, at NCRegister.com.

It was sometime around the mid-1960s that the sexual revolution really got underway; and in the ensuing decades, “free sex” – that is, sex without restrictions and without consequences – gained momentum in American culture. The introduction of the birth control pill effectively separated sexual intercourse from its expected result, pregnancy. No-fault divorce, sex outside of marriage, legalized abortion, promiscuity and the hook-up culture, infidelity and bigamy and polygamy, the emergence of “throuples”... inevitably led to a trifecta of sexual aberrations: pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism.

But despite the mainstream media's embrace of alternative lifestyles, lots of people (a majority of people?) resist the assault on traditional morality. Over at the Ruth Institute, a global interfaith coalition, founder Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. has given a voice to those who appreciate the beauty of human sexuality as God intended, and who recognize the depravity inherent in society's relaxation of sexual norms.


On July 17-18, the Ruth Institute presented its third annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, intended to educate the public about the millions of lives damaged by society's abandonment of sexual mores. The event was originally planned as a live conference onsite in Lake Charles, Louisiana; but because of the coronavirus, the conference was changed to a hybrid event, with both in-person participation and online involvement. Morse explained to the Register, “None of the evils we confronted – pornography, sexual abuse, gender confusion, coercive population control and dramatically falling fertility – are going to call a time-out for a pandemic.”

The Register talked with Jennifer Roback Morse about the agenda for the Summit. Unlike other conferences, she explained, this event did not rely exclusively on presentations of well-known speakers. Rather, the Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution brought together people who had suffered personally as a result of a sexually permissive society. “This is not a harmless ploy,” Morse said.

...It's a form of ideological terror that has killed a lot of people in the last fifty years. So the more we use the phraseology, the more we speak openly about how our culture has been hurt by these ideas, the more we help to identify people who have had their lives destroyed by this ideology.

Among the speakers who had personally suffered as a result of the LGBT subculture were Doug Mainwaring, a journalist who had left the homosexual lifestyle; Luis Ruiz, a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, who left the LGBT lifestyle after that terrifying experience; and Lynn Meagher, a mother whose two gender-confused adult children have severed their relationship with her, leaving her to wonder where they are and to pray for their return to faith.

A panel on the transgender movement included parents of gender-confused children, desisters (people who lived as the opposite sex and gave it up), and resisters within the medical community. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse reported on their own experiences. Another panel featured three speakers: Faith Hakesly and Allen Hebert, who were themselves survivors of childhood abuse, and Sue Ellen Browder, the spouse of a survivor. And a third panel brought together three activists: Tracy Shannon, representing Mass Resistance of Texas; Thomas Drake of Tradition, Family, Property (TFP); and Cathy Cleaver Ruse, senior fellow at the Family Research Council, who was recognized for her work exposing and resisting the Fairfax County School Board.

Besides the “experience speakers,” those whose testimonies reveal the deep hurt caused by the sexual revolution, the Summit included the wise advice of experts. Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. is a former professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America, where he was a leader in the field of research on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development. Father Sullins, now a senior research associate of the Ruth Institute, spoke about the clergy abuse crisis, looking at past statistics and future trends. Melea Stephens, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in helping couples, explained how pornography has become a public health crisis, and focused on public policies which could help alleviate the problem. Chris McKenna, founder and CEO of Protect Young Eyes, introduced tools for parents and other educators which can help to protect children from exposure to pornography.

Intensive Leadership Training for Ruth Institute's “Ambassadors”

A new feature of the conference this year was the Ambassador's Training Program. That program, which was offered by invitation only, included presentations on Understanding the Global Sexual Revolution: Christian Anthropology, History and Social Systems, presented by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse; Medical Tragedies of the Sexual Revolution, a review of traditional Christian sexuality morality, as presented by Michelle Cretella, M.D.; Social Science Evidence, including issues such as post-abortion trauma, same-sex parenting, and children's needs for their parents, presented by Fr. Paul Sullins; and Human Rights Catastrophes of the Sexual Revolution (including population control and demographic winter), presented by Don Feder, a journalist and communications director for the World Congress of Families.

If you were unable to participate in the conference either online or in person, Dr. Morse reassured the Register that recordings from the Summit will be available online in the near future. You can learn more about those recordings and about the Ruth Institute's other resources at the website, ruthinstitute.org.

 


Supreme Court Strikes Down Mildest of Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to be within 30 miles of a hospital in case of a botched abortion. “How can the pro-abortion movement, which claims to care about women, oppose something that is for the health and protection of the mother?” asked Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

“The Supreme Court’s liberal majority will do all it can to facilitate the Sexual Revolution, of which abortion is the crown jewel,” Morse said. “We’re told sex should be child-free, guilt-free and problem-free. If something inconvenient like conception occurs, abortion is the fail-safe.”


Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute, said, “No one who welcomes the Supreme Court's latest decision can ever again claim to be against substandard ‘back-alley’ abortions. The Court's myopic decisions in Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton created this problem in the first place by preventing the adoption of federal standards for surgical abortions.

“Ample experience of women's brutal treatment at the hands of uncaring, self-serving abortion providers has shown that the abortion industry cannot regulate itself. Now the reasonable attempt by the people of Louisiana to ensure that the horrors of death mills such as Dr. Gosnell's in Pennsylvania can have no place in their state, have been thwarted by the self-appointed experts in medical care of the Supreme Court.”

Fr. Sullins will speak on post-abortion trauma at the Ruth Institute’s Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution July 17-18 in Lake Charles, LA.  



The Man Who Exposed Forced Abortion in China a Guest on The Dr. J Show

Steven Mosher, author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order, is this week’s guest on The Dr. J Show, the interview program of The Ruth Institute.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD., founder and president of the Ruth Institute, said, “We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring viewers this interview with Steven Mosher, the first person to expose the horrors of forced abortion in the People’s Republic of China. Decades before the communist regime exposed the world to the coronavirus, it was committing massive human rights abuses.”

In 1980, as the first Western social scientist to study in China, Mosher witnessed the regime’s one-child policy in action. He watched in horror as women in the seventh, eighth, even ninth month of pregnancy were dragged to an operating table to have a C-section abortion performed on them.

Mosher said this shocking experience made him pro-life, and his new pro-life stance cost him his doctorate.

Morse said, “Here in microcosm, is the whole story of US relations with the People’s Republic of China. Mosher’s advisors at Stanford University valued their access to research in China, more than exposing these human rights atrocities. Time after time, Westerners give China a ‘pass,’ so they can continue doing business there. This has been going on for forty years.”


Mosher also recounts his attempts to tell the president of the National Organization for Women about the appalling coercion of the Chinese Communist Party on women. The president of NOW responded, “Well, China does have a population problem.”

Morse stated, “Again, there is the story of highly-placed advocates of the Sexual Revolution ignoring human rights abuses. The claim that they defend a ‘women’s right to choose’ is a cover story, not a real commitment.”

Mosher subsequently abandoned a career as a social scientist and became a leader in the pro-life movement. Today he’s the president of the Population Research Institute.

“My interview with Mosher shows that the Chinese Communist Party has a long history of callousness and corruption even toward its own people, well before the recent COVID-19 catastrophe,” Morse said.

Each week on the Dr. J show, Morse interviews experts on issues ranging from surrogacy and “transgenderism,” to divorce, sexual abuse, pornography and other aspects of the Sexual Revolution.

Watch Dr. Morse’s interview with Steve Mosher here.

Mosher’s book, Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order can be found here.

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love. Find more information here.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact media@ruthinstitute.org.


Our Annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution is Coming!

 

Educating yourself is the first step in fighting the effects of the sexual revolution in your life and among loved ones.

The Ruth Institute is hosting its Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, and you're invited.

Learn how to confront and survive trends in transgenderism, the LGBT subculture, the pitfalls of population control, post-abortion trauma, same-sex parenting, childhood sexual abuse, and more.

The summit will include various sessions loaded with information. Have you ever wondered, for example, how pornography is affecting people’s lives? The Summit’s class “Protecting Our Children from Our Pornified Culture” will open your eyes. These and other facts about pornography will be discussed:


  • The average age of first exposure to porn is 11 years old
  • 25% of search engine requests are related to sex
  • 35% of downloads from the Internet are pornographic
  • 40% of Americans say they regularly visit porn sites
  • 70% of men aged 18 to 24 visit a porn site at least once a month
  • One-third of all Internet porn users are women
  • Conditions frequently associated with porn addiction include depression, anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, memory problems, and erectile dysfunction
  • In the United States, 68% of divorces involve one party having what is described as an obsessive interest in pornography

For this and many other well-researched presentations, save the date:

Third Annual Ruth Institute Awards Dinner and

Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

July 17-18, 2020

 


 



Pro-Life Movement Needs Its Own ‘Seamless Garment’

COMMENTARY: The pro-life movement really has matured from a single-issue battle, fought in a single way, to a multi-issue movement.
 
by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published February 13, 2020, at NCRegister.com.

Committed pro-life activists are often accused of being too focused on abortion: “If you really cared about babies, you would also care about Issue X!”

True, children need many things to survive and thrive, and pro-lifers should work on those issues as well as the abortion issue. But the “Seamless Garment,” as a rhetorical strategy, is often perceived by pro-lifers as a subtle or not-so-subtle attempt to undermine them. All too often, these suspicions are well-founded. So my next statement may surprise you: The pro-life movement needs a Seamless Garment of its own. Let me explain.


The Ruth Institute conducted a survey of pro-life student opinion at the Students for Life Pro-Life Summit on Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people attended this summit the day after the 47th-annual national March for Life. Nearly 10% of the attendees stopped by the Ruth Institute booth and took our survey. Their ages ranged from 12 through 76, with an average of 28. The respondents were 71% women and 77% Catholic.

We asked them: “What other related issues concern you? Check all that apply.” Of the 305 people who answered, the following percentages flagged these issues:

  • 83% said they were concerned about euthanasia.
  • 83% said they were concerned about the decline of marriage.
  • 66% said they were concerned about contraception.
  • 59% said they were concerned about comprehensive sexuality education.
  • 50% said they were concerned about surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation.
  • 47% said they were concerned about the worldwide decline of fertility.

True enough, these are not the issues that advocates of the Seamless Garment generally mention. Back when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago popularized the Seamless Garment, the issues included government programs supporting the material needs of children.

Today, the issues are more apt to be climate change or immigration, but the subtle accusation is clear enough: “If pro-lifers really cared about children, they would care about them after birth.” So let us look at our survey of the Students for Life participants through this lens of children’s needs after they are born.

Of course, everyone knows that children need food and shelter and clothing. But children also need love. The “failure to thrive” syndrome shows that, in some way, the non-material needs of children are more important than their physical needs. Children who “fail to thrive” have their material needs met. They have food, shelter, clothing and medical care. But they do not grow. They may even die. The commonly accepted explanation for failure to thrive is that kids need more than food. They also need to be fed and nurtured, by a person who holds them, rocks them, looks into their eyes and loves them.

In other words, kids need their parents. Mom rocks the baby. Dad supports Mom while she rocks the baby. She can’t get it done alone.

I conclude that authentic care for children must include care for their need to be loved by both their parents. We should provide systematic social structures to ensure that as many kids as possible get to grow up with their own parents who love them and each other. Children have a birthright to their own parents. That means a stable relationship with their biological parents wherever possible and stable, child-centered provision for adoption where the biological parents are permanently unavailable.

What might those structures look like? Adult society affirms that people should be having sex only with the person we are married to. We get married before having sex. We stay together unless someone does something really awful. We cut out petty criticism of our spouses. We have a social norm of patiently bearing with our spouse’s faults.

In other words, the most reliable systematic plan for ensuring that kids get to have the love and attention of both their parents is lifelong married love, supported by traditional Christian sexual ethics. The respondents to our survey at the Students for Life Summit seem to be quite well aware of this. “The decline of marriage” option comes in at the top of the list of their concerns, with more than 80% support.

Two-thirds of the activists mentioned contraception as an area of concern. Only an idiot can overlook the connection between the constant promotion of the contraceptive ideology and people’s casual choices of sex partners. If you care about kids, you should make it easier, not harder, for people to make good decisions about the identity of their child’s other parent.

Nearly 60% of the respondents were concerned about comprehensive sexuality education. This, too, shows that these activists are sensitive to the needs of children. Much of what passes for sex education amounts to propaganda for the sexual revolution, inflicted on small children, too young and impressionable to defend themselves.

Schools, public and private alike, convey to children that sex is a recreational activity: They safely can partake of it, as long as they use a condom every time. This message has no place in a Seamless Garment that treasures the rights of children to their parents, and therefore demands self-control from adults.

Half the survey participants were concerned about third-party reproduction issues. Is this because children of donated sperm or eggs are cut off from one of their biological parents? Or are these respondents mainly concerned about all of the death-dealing that goes on in the infertility industry, by discarding or freezing unwanted embryos? Either way, these pro-lifers’ care for babies extends well beyond the abortion issue.

When we conceived the idea for this survey, we just wanted to get an idea of where these participants at the Students for Life Summit stood on the Ruth Institute’s issues. Viewing the results reveals something more.

The pro-life movement really has matured from a single-issue battle, fought in a single way, to a multi-issue movement. The most committed participants in the movement understand that we need to defend the rights of children and parents to be in stable relationships with each other. Children have a birthright to their parents, as well as a birthright to be born in the first place.

And this survey also shows us that we are closer than we realized to having a pro-life Seamless Garment of our own.

 

 


Aborting the Wanted Child

by Paul Sullins

This article was first posted January 22, 2020, at The Public Discourse.

The unstated mythology of therapeutic “abortion care” is that pregnancies come in only two types: wanted pregnancies, all of which children are delivered, and unwanted pregnancies, all of which children are aborted. But that’s not true. At least one in seven abortions in the U.S. are of children that the mother reports were wanted. I recently found that the risk of depression, suicidality or anxiety disorders from such abortions was almost four times higher than for women who had aborted a child in an unwanted pregnancy. Mine is the first empirical study ever to examine these more distressing, invisible abortions.

Are abortions psychologically harmful for women? Today’s foremost medical and scientific agencies, including the American Psychological Association (APA), American Medical Association (AMA), National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and Britain’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC), assure us that they are not, in a series of similarly-worded position statements advising that (in the words of the NAS) “women who have an abortion [do not] experience more mental health problems than women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy.”
But posing the question as one of abortion versus birth for an unwanted pregnancy overlooks a well-documented but seldom acknowledged fact: many abortions—at least one in seven in the U.S.—are of children in pregnancies that the mother reports were wanted, not unwanted. If these abortions are more troubling for women than those in unwanted pregnancies, then by ignoring them our public health agencies are subtly understating the true level of possible post-abortion psychological harm for women.

I recently examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to see if wanting a pregnancy affected women’s level of psychological distress following an abortion. My results were published late last year in a study in the European medical journal Medicina. Add Health, widely acknowledged to be among the best representative data we have on the U.S. population, has been used in thousands of empirical scholarly studies. In addition to extensive measures of psychological health drawn from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), Add Health asked almost 4,000 women at three points in time—ages 15, 22, and 28—whether they had ever been pregnant, how the pregnancy ended, and whether they wanted to have a child when they became pregnant.

Putting these together, I found that by age 28 the risk of affective psychological disorder—meaning depression, anxiety disorder, or serious thoughts of suicide—was almost four times higher (69 percent versus 18 percent) for women who had aborted a child in a wanted rather than an unwanted pregnancy, compared to those who had delivered children in such pregnancies. Clearly, the abortions of children in wanted pregnancies are much more disturbing for women, and their births much happier, than is the case with unwanted pregnancies.

Wanted-pregnancy abortions most often occur because the mother may want the child, while others involved do not. In the Add Health data I examined in the study, one in five women who had ever had an abortion said that they had aborted a pregnancy by which they had wanted to have a child. In patient surveys by abortion providers, over a third of women reported that they were acceding to the wishes of their partner or parents in having the abortion. A research review by the pro-life Elliott Institute estimates that “30 to 60 percent of women having abortions feel pressured to do so by other persons.”

There can be other pressures as well. In follow-up surveys that asked about their experience at a clinic, most women reported feeling uncertain or rushed to have an abortion, and two thirds reported little or no counseling. Last year’s movie Unplanned, based on the first-person account of former abortion-clinic director Abby Johnson, chillingly dramatized a typical clinic intake process, that more closely resembled sales pressure to have an abortion than it did a careful screening for certainty or potential mental-health concerns. Many women may understandably come to have a sense of buyer’s remorse or regret about their decision to have an abortion.

Remarkably, mine is the first empirical study ever to examine abortions of children in wanted pregnancies. For most researchers in this area, such abortions are invisible because they do not conform to the unstated binary mythology of “abortion care,” in which pregnancies come in only two types: wanted pregnancies, all of which children are delivered, and unwanted pregnancies, all of which children are aborted.

Reviewers and editors repeatedly reported that they “lacked a sense of” or were “perplexed” by the idea that women could look back and say that they actually had wanted to deliver a child they had aborted; although they acknowledged that women routinely deliver children in unwanted pregnancies, and that “very many women express some degree of ambivalence” at the clinic. More than one told me that women who had obtained an abortion must not have wanted their pregnancy by definition, and thus, in the Add Health interviews, they could not have responded the way they clearly did respond. The position-statement review by the AMRC codified this bias, explicitly presuming that all aborted pregnancies were unwanted, and thus defining the most distressing abortions out of existence.

Whitewashing away the most troubling abortions is not the only blind spot of our medical experts. Even if it were true that women did not “experience more mental health problems” with abortion compared to delivery, such statements crucially miss the point. The mental-health premise for widespread legal abortion was not merely that it would not do more psychological harm to women, but that it would benefit them, compared to having to deliver the child.

Although researchers have long disputed whether mental-health problems for women after abortion are disconcertingly large or insignificantly small, so far, after forty-five years of research, not a single study (to my knowledge) has ever found a statistically significant psychological benefit for women having abortions rather than childbirth. The declarations of “no harm” fail even to consider the fact that the idea of a “therapeutic abortion” to improve a woman’s mental health—which is the premise of the Roe/Doe decisions in the U.S., and the justification for legal abortion in most Western countries—has no basis in evidence.

What does benefit pregnant women’s mental health, research repeatedly finds, is childbirth. In my study, the risk of affective distress was 29 percent lower up to 13 years after the birth of one or more children in wanted pregnancies, and 12 percent lower even after delivering a child from an unwanted pregnancy. The full psychological toll of an abortion, therefore, must be measured not just by the absolute pain a woman may (or may not) feel, but also by the opportunity cost of missing the psychological benefit—the joy, growth, and even struggle—of the child she did not have.

 

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