Why do skepticism and feminism go hand in hand?

Because facts are very useful things to have in your tool belt when arguing your point:

Women do not suffer mental health problems such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of having an abortion, researchers reported Wednesday.

The study, published by Danish scientists in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds to a growing body of scientific literature that has failed to find that abortion causes psychological problems, as some abortion opponents have asserted.

Too bad there are too many people who don’t care about science or facts. Oh well, they’re a lost cause anyway.


  1. says

    However, it seems women do sometimes suffer postpartum depression from having given birth. I would think that a full-term pregnancy has to be physically harder on a woman than a properly-performed abortion.I guess that is the price you pay for being magical. Giving birth = magic. I am convinced.Seriously! New humans sometimes come out of your bodies! It is amazing!However, it is obvious that the welfare of the mother is not the priority for many anti-choice folks considering the events at Catholic hospitals.

  2. JediPsychologist says

    Okay, I got this backwards for a second. I was confused, because this result seems to dismiss the seemingly obvious pain that an abortion must bring. But now I get your point, it just took me a second. That’s really interesting – I mean, I’m not surprised that there’s no *lasting* effect, but you would think there would be a brief period of slight depression. Although I agree wholeheartedly with Aaron up there. If I had an unwanted pregnancy, bringing it to term would fuck me up for life, whereas ending it would be scary, but not in nearly such a lasting fashion. Alright. The more I consider it, the more this makes sense. Thanks for posting! Really made me think.

  3. JenL says

    Anecdotes aren’t data, but: the one girl I knew who had an abortion (fairly early in the pregnancy) during high school was fine until an anti-abortion protester put a picture of the fetus from a late-term abortion in her hands…

  4. jose says

    Ease the way for the ban. Repeat myths to create a bad image, especially in mantra form so people can recite them easily (and mindlessly). Then, make laws against said image and people won’t complain. It has already begun: Why are abortions not performed in a hospital like any other medical procedure? They are marginalized and stigmatized into ‘clinics’ instead. Why no public funding for it?

  5. plublesnork says

    Glorious reality.I’ve said before in response to claims that abortion causes emotional problems that correlation doesn’t equal causation, and if you’ve got anti-choice dipshits calling you a baby-killer, than it doesn’t seem unlikely that this could lead to one feeling horrible, in much the same way many gay people feel horrible, not because they’re gay, but because there are so many disgusting people out there who think of them as less than human and aren’t ashamed of this fact.But when it comes to anti-choicers, no matter how rock solid a study might be, I expect the same lies will continue.

  6. says

    Now I can’t wait to see a study which debunks the rubbish claim that rape victims who choose not to terminate pregnancies resulting from the rape are much happier than women who choose to abort. That one always infuriated me.

  7. breadbox says

    Skepticism and feminism go hand-in-hand for many reasons, but yes, one of the most salient is that both flourish under a respect for facts.

  8. ckitching says

    I hate to say it, but it wouldn’t matter if someone did study that. This research will not stop or even slow the ridiculous claims that anti-abortionists rely on. Five years from now, we’ll still be hearing about how women who have abortions suffer from increased chance of miscarriage (which was debunked long ago), and PTSD, depression or whatever the psychological ailment du jour is.

  9. April says

    The “obvious” pain to which you refer is cultural hegemony, not empirical observation. The emotion most commonly expressed by women who choose abortion is relief.

  10. Valhar2000 says

    So, do they not suffer from depression and other psychological problems in spite of the vicious harrassment the anti-choicers subject them to? Or did the people who carried out the study simply correct for that effect?Kicking people when they are down, as so many of these people delight in doing, seems to me like the kind of thing that would cause psychological problems: I am therefore rather surprised by these results.

  11. Valhar2000 says

    I would like to know the answer to that question. And, more generally, I’d like to know how much truth there is in the idea that “I would see his (the rapist’s) face every time I looked at my baby”.None of this is relevant to whether abortion should be legal or not, just as the nature vs. nurture question about sexual orientation is irrelevant to questions of civil rights, but I think they are interesting questions in their own right.

  12. pwise says

    Suddenly is brought to mind all the times I personally asserted this in conversation, believing it to be so without ever bothering to check if it were actually true. Not because I had anything invested in the belief, but because I’d grown up with it, taken it for granted, and it just never occurred to me to check it against the facts.

  13. EdenBunny says

    (Sorry, not magic….)

    Just a very complex natural process. Interesting, even amazing, yes. Magic? No.Like all natural processes, no matter how much we learn about it, there will always be more to learn if we ask questions, but there’s no reason to believe that the answer to any of those questions will be “It’s magic!”, unless one of those questions is “What is a very naive assumption we can make about this phenomenon?”

  14. says

    I personally think it’s dangerous to align skepticism with preconceived ideological premises of any sort. One always has preconceived ideological premises, but there is almost always a point at which the facts will contradict them. This is all to say that skepticism doesn’t go “hand in hand” with any particular ideology. Skepticism is the anti-ideology, the razor that slices away the points at which your ideology drives you off course.

  15. jose says

    It’s not preconceived, it’s postconceived, because we have looked at the evidence. Jen posted it. When science supports one particular position – for example, that abortion doesn’t cause depression, saying openly that abortion doesn’t cause depression is the skeptical thing to do.

  16. says

    Feminism in general isn’t a preconceived notion; it’s pretty much assuming the kind of thing that usually a null hypothesis – no difference between groups. Statistically, one generally needs evidence to dismiss the null hypothesis.Now, we could say our hypothesis is that there’s no difference, but that’s not a good hypothesis because the null hypothesis is not well-defined, and therefore can’t readily be tested. This is why feminism is a position that is compatible with skepticism.

  17. says

    It’s worth pointing out that the study is of Danish women; they won’t have been subjected to the kinds of abuse abortion patients often are in the US.This is partly a good thing – it shows what the results are when you don’t throw bricks at people.

  18. katalina says

    Or try to blow them up on their way to their doctor appointments… or murder their doctors… or bombard them with pseudo-science…

  19. says

    why would there be any sort of depression after a voluntary abortion? why would there be pain?I know plenty of women who’ve had abortions and either didn’t think twice about them, or were happy/glad/relieved when they did, because being pregnant caused them a lot of mental anguish, and the abortion fixed the problem

  20. says

    Frequentist statistics would also demand that you specify conditions upon which you would reject the null hypothesis, not just stating a null hypothesis.Also, what about Bayesian priors? A skeptic would usually adopt a non-informative prior, say Jeffreys’, on the two hypotheses. A feminist, it seems to me, would be assuming a subjective prior, say Gaussian, which gives significantly more weight to the “no differences” hypothesis.

  21. jose says

    Feminism in general is not a “preconceived ideological premise” either. Is a conclusion people get at when seeing all the injustice that is being made, the same way one would support equality between races.

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