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In Reply To: Abortion…

Psychiatric Opinion

27, October 1971

 Dr. and Mrs. Lowry's article, "Abortion as a Preventive for Abused Children" (PSYCHIATRIC OPINION, June 1971), would be more aptly entitled "Abortion as Preventive for Children Whose Parents are Child Abusers." Perhaps "Destroy the Child to Save It" is more direct, reminiscent of an American general's thoughts about saving a Vietnamese village. The philosophy of destroying problems does indeed get rid of them.

 In my mind, bigger problems than abused children are bad scientists -- people who distort because of ignorance or enthusiasm in promoting a cause, both of which are inexcusable in the application or interpretation of the scientific method.

 In such light I would like to clarify the Lowrys' description of Forssman and Thuwe's study (Acta Psychiatrica Scand. 42, 71-88, 1966 -- read it yourself!) of 120 children born after their mothers' request for abortion had been refused (others have misused this study to their permanent discredit also). The 120 unaborted children were followed for 21 years, and clearly they were born into a worse situation that gave a greater risk of social and mental handicaps than peer controls. Yet their outcome was far from a disaster. No significant differences were found between the unaborted group and controls for the history of criminal behavior, drunken misconduct, educational subnormality, the number taking university entrance examinations, the number who actually studied at a university, the fitness of the boys for military service and the number of boys and girls married before 21. "Probably significant" between these two groups were the greater numbers of the unaborted who had been seen at a psychiatric clinic or hospital and who had delinquency problems. Definitely significant was the higher incidence in the unaborted group of insecure childhood, needing public assistance between ages 16 to 21 and having mothers averaging two years older than mothers of the controls. Also definitely significant were the greater number of the unaborted group who had not obtained an education greater than was obligatory for Sweden. Overall, the unaborted group had a significantly lesser number of individuals who were free from all the defects studies.

 Still, all these comparisons seem meaningless to the overriding fact that almost half (48.3 percent) of the unaborted group had complete "freedom from defects in all respects studied". Just what "unwanted unaborted" means is not clear. To such an individual it apparently means an almost 50-50 chance of turning out all right in spite of more than the usual problems to face in growing up.

 Forssman and Thuwe studied well: They sought information from child welfare boards, child guidance clinics, youth psychiatry centers, mental hospitals, psychiatric departments in general hospitals, psychiatric outpatient services, rural and suburban psychiatric consulting bureaus, the central penal register, official temperance boards, social agencies, primary and secondary schools, universities and the Swedish Institute of Military Psychology. They did not ask the views of the 120 unaborted persons, apparently out of post-partum consideration for them.

 The most important thing in the abortion "hot war" is to keep the scientific method, which is something the abortion proponents do not do. I entreat everyone to read critically and scientifically the original studies. The abortion proponents are the only ones with anything to fear, because their movement is mainly without scientific substantiation.


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