David Robert Grimes takes a beady-eyed look at the way theocrats distort scientific research to support their opposition to things.
The abortion debate provides numerous examples of such contrivances. In this paper recently, Breda O’Brien brandished a study by Ferguson et al (2013) and claimed abortion damages women. However, her championing of this study is textbook cherry-picking that fails to withstand even a cursory examination.
The scientific consensus is that abortion does not damage mental health, a conclusion supported by volumes of meticulous research and recently reiterated in high-quality major reviews by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2011) and Johns Hopkins University (2008). Ferguson himself has expressed dismay at pro-life groups using this study, calling this use “misleading”.
More dubious still was last September’s “Dublin declaration”, a statement insisting abortion is never necessary to save the life of a mother. Yet even a cursory inspection reveals this is simply not true. Pregnancy is not risk-free and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states: “Abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman.”
Quite a thing to lie about, isn’t it. Yes, Savita Halappanavar merely imagined she was dead, and Praveen and her parents only imagine she’s gone.
David Quinn of the Iona Institute spoke against gay marriage in front of the constitutional committee. Ostensibly citing research from Child Trends (2002), Quinn claimed children fared best with biological parents and gay parents were not good for children. Yet the first page of the study he quotes states: “ . . . neither same-sex parents nor adoptive parents were identified . . . therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex parents or adoptive parents”.
Evidence to date
Quinn is simply wrong. Numerous studies have since found zero difference in parenting between heterosexual and same-sex couples. The American Psychological Association states “ . . . the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth”.
God hates people who don’t tell lies, apparently.