Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is there any abortion objectivity at the NY Times?

Emily Bazelon has written a cover story for the New York Times Magazine entitled, "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" From the title you might get the impression Bazelon scoured through a variety of scientific studies on women who've had abortions and visited with scores of women who regret their abortions.

Not quite. Bazelon follows around a single prolife woman named Rhonda Arias who regrets her abortion and works as an abortion-recovery counselor. She also briefly mentions other women who work in post-abortion ministry. Bazelon supports her take on the issue with a decades-old panel report from the APA and treats it as the final word on scientific evidence relating to PAS. Bazelon also fails to mention a recent study (linked to above) by pro-choice researcher David Fergusson who found connections between abortion and mental health. That, of course, wouldn't fit into the narrative that only prolife researchers could concoct a study where abortion was harmful to the mental health of women.
By concentrating on the babies she feels she has lost (she has named the first two Adam and Jason), Arias has drained other aching memories of some of their power. "I think about the baby girl I gave up for adoption, and I think I made a good parenting choice. I know she had a good life," she said.

Does Bazelon have a degree is psychology? If not, then why is she giving us her armchair opinion on why Arias focuses on her abortions? Could it be possible that Arias is actually glad she gave up a child for adoption instead of having an abortion?
Thirty-four years ago this week, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, and since then the American abortion wars have pitted the rights of "unborn babies" against those of living women

Notice the quotes around unborn babies and the inclusion of the adjective "living" before women as if to somehow show some contrast between those "unborn babies" who certainly aren't living and those real, living women.
Abortion-recovery counselors like Arias could focus on why women don't have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end. They could call for improving the circumstances of women's lives in order to reduce the number of abortions. Instead they are working to change laws to restrict and ban abortion.
First, talk about some broad generalizations. Does anyone honestly believe there aren't any abortion-recovery counselors who don't work on those things? Are all abortion-recovery counselors focused on banning abortion? From what I've seen most individuals focused on post-abortion ministry aren't focused on passing abortion bans but rather reaching out to women who've been hurt by abortion.

Second, wouldn't the belief that abortion takes an innocent and valuable human life and hurts women typically lead someone to be in favor of prolife laws?

Bazelon eventually finds her way to some scientific studies.
Brenda Major, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed 440 women for two years in the 1990s from the day each had her abortion. One percent of them met the criteria for post-traumatic stress and attributed that stress to their abortions.
So if 1% of all women who've had abortion met the criteria for post-traumatic stress and attribute that stress to an abortion, isn't that a large number of women? Say 13,000 women a year? Earlier Bazelon notes the Alan Guttmacher statistic that around 1/3 of women will have an abortion during their childbearing years, yet she doesn't seem to comprehend that 1% of 1/3 of American women is hundreds of thousands of women.

Bazelon does go on to note how some pro-choicers who are somewhat open to discussing pain caused by abortion can be ostracized by the pro-choice movement.
Torre-Bueno says that when she self-published her book and asked if she could hold a book party at Planned Parenthood in San Diego, the director said no. "He called me a ‘dupe of the antis,' " she remembers.

Unfortunately, Bazelon ends the article with a paragraph which I think exemplifies how pro-choice people view women who have had abortions and come to regret them later in life. Bazelon's conclusion is that abortion doesn't really cause any mental problems. Instead, regretting a past abortion is a way for some women with mental problems or depression to find a fake source and then fix those problems by repenting from their abortion. I don't know about you but I find this view of women to be insulting. As if post-abortive women who regret their abortions are totally irrational creatures who can so easily be fooled into what they are feeling.

While it may come off as insulting to me and some post-abortive prolife women, I can see why someone like Bazelon would think like that. If you can't see the unborn as anything worthy of value and abortion as being completely morally unproblematic, then it's much harder to see the grief some women feel as being real.

HT: Get Religion

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