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Report rejecting bill to legalise abortion in Queensland misses mental health risk link

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Pro-life protest: A group of protesters in Brisbane concerned about a proposed bill that would make abortion legal in Queensland.

A 135-page report which formed the basis of Queensland’s parliamentary inquiry rejecting an abortion legalisation bill, found no link between abortion and mental health risks amongst women.

That’s despite international longitudinal studies that show women can suffer substantial long-term mental injury following terminations.

The inquiry finding could prove significant if the document is used in support of any new legislative abortion.

On August 17, Member for Cairns Rob Pyne proposed a new bill, titled the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016, to regulate the procurement of abortions for women more than 24 weeks pregnant.

The new bill would make late-term abortions legal, but only with the consultation of two doctors and on the basis that pregnancy “would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman than if the pregnancy were terminated”.

Based on 1400 submissions, with hearings held across Queensland, the inquiry chairwoman, Labor MP Leanne Linard concluded: “The committee was unable to support the bill as it failed to address a number of important policy issues and to achieve a number of its own stated objectives.”

The report showed 10,000 to 14,000 abortions had been performed annually in Queensland in recent years, but drew no causal link between abortion and mental health.

Member for Cleveland Mark Robinson had already expressed his disappointment that the inquiry committee under-estimated the psychological impacts of abortion on women.

“My sense is the panel glossed over the substantial body of research showing a significant and substantial impact on some women after abortion,” Dr Robinson told The Catholic Leader earlier this year.

“It can be immediate or years down the track as they become more informed about the operation and what happened.”

Dr Robinson cited New Zealand research including a 2006 study co-authored by Professor David Fergusson entitled “Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health”.

The study showed that women who aborted had higher rates of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance abuse.

In 2008, Prof Fergusson wrote a paper for the British Journal of Psychiatry entitled “Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study”.

It concluded that: “Women who had abortions had a thirty per cent higher incidence of mental health problems according to a thirty-year study following more than five hundred women.”

The parliamentary inquiry considered Prof Fergusson’s 2008 research, but concluded: “Ultimately … it is clear that there is no established causal relationship between abortion and mental health outcomes.”

The inquiry also found no link between breast cancer and abortion despite a growing body of international evidence.

The link between breast cancer and abortion is investigated in the 2016 documentary film Hush. 

The film raises the question whether women are being told the truth about abortion and its potential health risks. 

“The abortion industry regularly denies evidence that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, infertility, pre-term birth, depression and other health problems,” Canadian filmmaker Punam Kumar Gill, who identifies as being pro-choice, said but explained she wanted to find out the truth about abortion risks and whether they are real. 

By Mark Bowling

Catholic Church Insurance

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