There’s no legitimate rationale for amending the existing law to address so rare a circumstance as “coerced abortion”, especially within the hazy parameters defined by Bill C-510.
But, but, but, JJ, you're wrong! Coerced abortion is rampant! Here's what LieShite said:
A Canadian MP has introduced legislation similar to bills in the United States that helps women who face pressure or coercion when considering an abortion. With surveys showing anywhere from 40-60 percent of women are pressured into unwanted abortions, the legislation can help large numbers of women.
This struck me as totally bogus, so I got googling but I could not find anything that backs up that 40-60 per cent number, or the plural 'surveys'.
But I have found multiple citations of one very precise number -- 64% -- all with the same reference, for example, this 22-page pdf called 'Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report'.
Page 1 headline: 'Most abortions are unwanted or coerced. Many are forced.' Bullet copy detailing anecdotes, duly end-noted.
Page 2 headline: 'The Un-Choice', then some statistical bullet copy with end-note numbers. (There is a lot of bullshit there unrelated to coercion that I'm leaving out. Stuff about post-abortion depression, suicide, other health complications -- all thoroughly and regularly debunked by real researchers. This is the single page with anything like facts on it. The rest of the 22-page report is all anecdotal.)
64% of women reported feeling pressured to abort.1
Most felt rushed or uncertain, yet 67% weren’t counseled.1
79% weren’t told of available reasources.1
84% weren’t sufficiently informed before abortion.1
So what is that all-important Reference 1?
VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16 (2004).
I ran it through Google Scholar and this is what turned up -- miles of anti-choice pseudo-science articles referencing it.
I chased down the abstract at Medical Science Monitor, a Polish monthly that styles itself as an 'International Medical Journal for Experimental and Clinical Research'.
Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women
Vincent Rue, Priscilla Coleman, James Rue, David Reardon
Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(10): SR 5 - 16
Manuscript ID: 11784
Institute for Pregnancy Loss, Jacksonville, FL, U.S.A.
Human Development and Family Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, U.S.A.
Sir Thomas More Clinic, Downey, CA, U.S.A.
Elliot Institute, Springfield, IL, U.S.A.
Background: Individual and situational risk factors associated with negative postabortion psychological sequelae have been identified, but the degree of posttraumatic stress reactions and the effects of culture are largely unknown.
Material/Methods: Retrospective data were collected using the Institute for Pregnancy Loss Questionnaire (IPLQ) and the Traumatic Stress Institute’s (TSI) Belief Scale administered at health care facilities to 548 women (331 Russian and 217 American) who had experienced one or more abortions, but no other pregnancy losses.
Results: Overall, the findings here indicated that American women were more negatively influenced by their abortion experiences than Russian women. While 65% of American women and 13.1% of Russian women experienced multiple symptoms of increased arousal, re-experiencing and avoidance associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 14.3% of American and 0.9% of Russian women met the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Russian women had significantly higher scores on the TSI Belief Scale than American women, indicating more disruption of cognitive schemas. In this sample, American women were considerably more likely to have experienced childhood and adult traumatic experiences than Russian women. Predictors of positive and negative outcomes associated with abortion differed across the two cultures.
Conclusions: Posttraumatic stress reactions were found to be associated with abortion. Consistent with previous research, the data here suggest abortion can increase stress and decrease coping abilities, particularly for those women who have a history of adverse childhood events and prior traumata. Study limitations preclude drawing definitive conclusions, but the findings do suggest additional cross-cultural research is warranted.
We'll get to the authors and institutions in a moment, but first, a question. Do you see the words 'pressure' or 'coercion' anywhere in that abstract? Anything about counselling or information?
What I see is a pretty interesting cross-cultural study of the impact of culture on stress-inducing events.
With even more interesting implications. Why would Russian women -- where abortion has been very common and accepted as an unfortunate method of birth control for decades -- experience so much less stress than Merkin women -- where abortion continues to be one of the most hotly contested societal issues with a ton of stigma attached?
Oh. Did I just answer that question?
Still, coerced abortion is not the focus of the study. It appears that the authors were concerned to show a link between abortion and stress. Well, shit, anybody's who has had an abortion or knows someone who has had an abortion could have told them that.
Much more informative and interesting would be a comparison of stress measures between women who had abortions and women who gave birth.
But perhaps information about 'pressure' was gleaned from those Institute for Pregnancy Loss Questionnaires and inserted into a footnote or something. We don't know, do we?
Other obvious problems with it: number of participants (548, fewer than half of whom are Merkin) and date (six years old).
Not to mention the fact that it seems to be the only study anybody cites.
On to the bias part. All the authors and three of the four institutions are anti-choice.
Vincent Rue is the coiner of the term 'post-abortion syndrome' and director of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss, which has no online presence, by the way.
We ran into Priscilla Coleman doing her SHRIEEEKY thing over the most recent -- and no doubt not last -- scholarly debunking of the 'abortion=insanity' equation.
Coleman has published twelve articles in peer-reviewed journals that claim there is a causal relationship between abortion and poor mental health. Her co-authors are pro-life advocates J.R. Cougle, Vincent Rue and David Reardon. Reardon is controversial for misrepresenting his academic credentials and for his research methods.
The statistical methods Coleman and her co-authors use have been criticized by the American Psychological Association (APA). A panel convened by the APA has written that the studies by Coleman, and her co-authors have "inadequate or inappropriate" controls and don't adequately control "for women's mental health prior to the pregnancy and abortion."
And now, the clincher -- the 'controversial' David Reardon, founder of the anti-choice Elliot Institute, creator of the 'pro-woman pro-life' strategy, and profiled in 2005 as an example of 'Christian conservatives [who] have gone a long way towards creating their own scientific counter-establishment.'
Right. The 'make-up-the-facts-to-fit-the-agenda' gang.
So this is what the HonMem Bruinooge is relying on as evidence for his urgently needed bill. Oh, and the tragic murder of Roxanne Fernando who was NOT murdered because she refused to have an abortion, but, seemingly, because she was infatuated with a Really Bad Boy who was so dim that the only way he could think of to get her to leave him alone was to kill her.
And other anti-coerced abortion legislation is based on the same bogus 'research'.
Sen. Jack Johnson has sponsored legislation requiring abortion clinics in Tennessee to post anti-coercion signs. He cites statistics that purport to show that 64 percent of women “were coerced into having that abortion.” Let’s dig a little deeper.
In other words, these statistics are 6 years old, are based on a very small data sample (over half of which wasn’t even in the U.S.), and were prepared at the behest of organizations with a clear bias about the outcome.
Is this the sort of informed decision-making we should expect from our legislators?
Apparently. ReformaTories and ReThuglicans never let facts get in the way of their authoritarian, paternalistic, misogynist agenda.