I saw a headline in the Associated Press that caught my eye: “Abortion doesn’t trigger mental distress, says study: Postpartum depression much more of a factor, according to Danish research.” The article attempts to summarize the findings of a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I have read enough articles like this one to know that you often cannot take these reports at face value. I have now looked at the actual findings from the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the cheerleading for abortion, it is clear that the AP has gotten this one wrong.
The AP says that “abortion doesn’t trigger mental distress.” The study, however, does not support that conclusion. Rather, researchers said that they could not find evidence to support the claim “that there is an increased risk of mental disorders after a first-trimester induced abortion.” That is far different from the headline. The logic of the headline does not hold. It would be like saying, “I saw a car parked in the new car lot and couldn’t see any evidence that it had been driven. The car, therefore, has never been driven.” It is an elementary non-sequitur, and so is the AP headline. It looks like it was written by someone who wanted to drum-up support for abortion rights.
The headline also says that “postpartum depression” is “much more of a factor.” More than what? The headline gives the impression that postpartum depression is “more of a factor” than mental distress after abortion. Once again, this is not what the study found. The study found that women who had an abortion reported mental distress at more than twice the rate of those who reported postpartum depression.