Nebraska lawmakers on Monday gave final approval to a first-of-its-kind measure requiring women to be screened for possible mental and physical problems before having abortions.
The bill requires a doctor or other health professional to screen women to determine whether they were pressured into having abortions. The screenings also would assess whether women have risk factors that could lead to mental or physical problems after an abortion.
I read that article just before reading this one about Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's decision to again declare April "Abortion Recovery Month":
The proclamation... “encourages and promotes healing opportunities and raises awareness of the aftermath of abortion experienced by individuals and families,” according to the document signed by the Republican governor and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
Despite claims to the contrary, the bill and the proclamation are not about caring for women and their mental and physical health. They are about politics.
I am convinced of that, especially in the aftermath of recent studies which found
There is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult womenand
Recent studies that have been used to assert a causal connection between abortion and subsequent mental disorders are marked by methodological problems [example here] that include, but not limited to: poor sample and comparison group selection; inadequate conceptualization and control of relevant variables; poor quality and lack of clinical significance of outcome measures; inappropriateness of statistical analyses; and errors of interpretation, including misattribution of causal effects. By way of contrast, we review some recent major studies that avoid these methodological errors. The most consistent predictor of mental disorders after abortion remains preexisting disorders
My point is not that no woman ever experiences depression or guilt after having an abortion, but that evidence points to co-occuring factors, not abortion, as causal. For example, in my case, any guilt I felt was about not feeling guilty as everyone had told me women who have abortions should. About the abortion itself, I felt relief, and I thought, "Wow, does that mean something is wrong with me?"
My case exemplifies what potential laws and proclamations like this do--they foster the notion that abortion has to be traumatic and guilt-inducing, even when studies and women themselves counter that idea.
I say these actions are about politics, too, for at least two other reasons. First, the goal is to scare women into not having abortions. Having one's doctor say, "You can have this procedure, but you are at risk for serious difficulties if you do," is frightening and, as I'm sure anti-choice folk are hoping, quite the deterrent.
Second, I don't see as much concern for screening women who decide not to terminate their pregnancies. We know that women can have physical and mental health issues after spontaneous miscarriage and childbirth--why no push for intensive screening and "warning" or recovery proclamations for those cases?
The other major question circulating in my mind is, what do laws like the potential Nebraska one mean, with regards to the way we frame choice, for women who are determined by their doctors to have mental or physical health "risks?"