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Speaking at the Department of Justice yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to ensure the DOJ fully implements President Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order from May 4, 2017, and the follow-on DOJ religious liberty guidance issued on October 6, 2017.The task force will ensure that the October 6 guidance fully affects all DOJ policy, such as what cases are taken, what arguments are made in court, and how DOJ personnel conduct themselves. Dialogue between DOJ and religious groups will remain ongoing, and DOJ employees will be trained in “their duties to accommodate people of faith.”This is a welcome announcement, and further indicates the priority given to religious liberty by the Trump administration and his Department of Justice. Sessions’ opening remarks were encouraging. He discussed the cases of religious objectors such as the Little Sisters of the Poor (subjected to a legal battle to not be coerced into providing contraception against their consciences), and baker Jack Phillips (who didn’t want to create a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding), mentioning Jack’s recent vindication in the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision and DOJ’s decision to file an amicus brief on his behalf. The Attorney General also mentioned he was filing a brief defending the ministerial housing allowance in an ongoing case, and discussed his department’s work to defend churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Discussing the increasingly hostile social climate, Sessions criticized the anti-religious remarks certain senators made during recent judicial confirmation hearings, and tacitly but clearly noted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s toxic approach to public discourse:We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs. (emphasis mine)Next, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville argued eloquently for religious liberty, noting it is derived from and must be protected consistent with human dignity. Kurtz cited the example of faith-based adoption providers, who are buttressing already-strained government foster and adoption care systems, being targeted for living out their belief that children need a mother and a father. As an example of the contributions of such groups, he mentioned an organization named “The Call” which places up to half of all adopted children in Arkansas into families. Such religious organizations do their work quietly and resolutely day after day, and many are not even aware of the value they contribute to the common good. This is real public service, and these organizations must remain free to operate according to their beliefs. Other panelists at the event, including the Heritage Foundation’s Emilie Kao, addressed the religious liberty threat of governmental authorities enforcing their own sexual orthodoxy on religious believers. Professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School (formerly a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit) discussed oft-used arguments that religious liberty can’t be tolerated when it causes “harm” to “third parties.” As Judge McConnell noted, however, there is always someone else who is affected by the protection of a legal claim to religious liberty—whether a government body, other group, or an individual. This is not a new concept. The fact that the law will always tangibly impact someone, combined with our historic reasons for religious liberty (the necessity of ensuring the government does not get in the way of humans being able to fulfil the responsibilities they owe to God), is the very reason the Founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution to begin with!Introducing closing speaker Senator James Lankford, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein commented on the positive contribution of religious freedom to a society, and noted Senator Lankford’s defense of Judge Amy Barrett, who came under fire for her faith when being confirmed by the Senate to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.Senator Lankford’s closing remarks powerfully explained the importance of all people being free to practice their beliefs. He mentioned the legal battle of Coach Kennedy as he sought to pray on the high school football field (something which shouldn’t be controversial), then forayed into international religious liberty issues such as China and Russia’s suppressions of religious freedom (citing a USCIRF report), as well as India’s anti-religious freedom laws. Lankford also addressed Turkey’s ongoing detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, as well as the importance of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback’s work. We have to set an example of religious freedom at home if we are going to argue for it overseas, Lankford rightly noted. He mentioned we must do better to protect the religious freedom of military chaplains, the need for legislation like the Conscience Protection Act and Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, and the importance of fixing the Johnson Amendment due to its chilling effect on religious speech. We must do religious freedom well (protecting the right for all faiths) at home to successfully promote it abroad. When it comes to religious freedom, we must show the world we walk the walk if we want to talk the talk. At home or abroad, as Lankford noted, religious freedom includes a robust defense of all people being able to robustly practice their faith in the public square. When this vision of religious liberty is legally protected, the battle will be one of ideas instead of a battle in the courts (or subjugation to governmental suppression of ideas).An open marketplace of religious ideas should be something all Americans can agree upon. We encourage DOJ in its effort to ensure this marketplace remains open.
Dear Friends,Many in our culture today think of Jesus as a kind of domesticated philosopher who had some polite things to say about how everyone should be nice to each other. Christ’s actual words in the gospels, however, reveal just how subversive he truly was 2,000 years ago and remains to this day. When I say “subversive,” I don’t mean in the sense of dissident rebellion towards society. I mean that the demands that Jesus placed on our human capacity for love were and are truly revolutionary and formidable. Consider these words from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel:“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”And again: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”And again: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”If we are honest with ourselves, these words should shake us to our core, because they sound impossibly impractical and superhumanly difficult to put into practice. We all fail at doing what Christ tells us to do in these verses with such routine regularity that his words can seem almost absurd at times. The reason for this can be traced all the way back to the beginning. Ever since our earliest ancestors fell into temptation in the Garden of Eden, we humans have been stuck in a default setting of selfishness—our fallen natural instinct is to be comfortable in our own self-righteous anger, lust, defensiveness, and loathing. Christ’s teachings completely subvert our inclinations, calling us to a higher and greater way of being. Since Christ is one with God the Father—our Creator—he has perfect understanding of man’s fallen nature. Therefore, his teachings are ultimately designed for our complete restoration—to bring about the apex of human flourishing, fulfillment, and happiness—as it was meant to be from the beginning.Many in our society put Jesus in the “nice guy who said nice things” box and insist that “niceness” is all he stood for. What they do not realize, and what we believers must fight for, is this truth: that Jesus is a full rebuke of the “think whatever you want to think” and “do whatever feels right” mentality. In this age of confusion, where identities, emotions, and urges rule the day, there is nothing more subversive than Jesus. But the paradox is that there is nothing more attractive, either—who doesn’t want to be happy and fulfilled?This, then, is the challenge for believers: to help unbelievers rediscover their original design before the fall by living out Christ’s radically challenging teachings in our own lives. Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesAmerica Celebrates Another Freedom Revolution – Ken BlackwellKeep kids with parents at border — and remember how we got here – Tony PerkinsAre Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg For or Against Religious Hostility? – Travis Weber and Andrew RockThe Little-Known Figures Who Had an Outsized Impact on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision – Peter SpriggThe Freedom to Serve: Why Religious Adoption Agencies Must Be Protected – Spenser White Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareA culture of freedom keeps winning at the Supreme Court – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionSCOTUS Invalidates Ruling Against Christian Florist – Hank Berrien, The Daily WireSouthern Poverty Law Center's settlement with 'extremist' organization dings credibility – Valerie Richardson, The Washington TimesFloral Artist Faced Same Intolerance as Jack Phillips – Kristen Waggoner, National ReviewSupreme Court Reverses Ruling Against Kansas Woman Told by Police to Stop Praying in Her Home – Michael Gryboski, The Christian PostFaith and courage – Ray Hacke, WORLDSCOTUS allows lower court to ban prayer from public square – Daniel Horowitz, Conservative ReviewInternational Religious FreedomPresident Buhari, Please Stop the Muslim Slaughter of Nigerian Christians – Michael Brown, The StreamCountries increasing legal restrictions on religion, survey finds – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesCanadian Bus Driver Arrested Two Years Later For Criticizing Homosexuality – Jeremiah Keenan, The Federalist LifeAbortionPro-Life Advocates Celebrate Supreme Court Decision Striking Down Law Forcing Abortion Promotion – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsWhy The Supreme Court’s Ruling Will Protect All Pregnancy Centers From Forcibly Promoting Abortion – Margot Cleveland, The FederalistOverturning Roe v. Wade is a Major Step. But Changing Hearts Is the Endgame – Liberty McArtor, The StreamHow to Overturn Roe – Josh Craddock, First ThingsAdoptionPhiladelphia Bans Catholic Agency From Placing Foster Kids with Christian Families – Charlene Aaron, CBN NewsMore Adopted Children, Who Are Adults Now, Look For Birth Parents – Ashley Westerman, NPRHow Being Adopted Made My Husband a Better Father – Marcia Kester Doyle, Her View From HomeComparing Border Children To U.S. Foster Kids Proves The Outrage Is Disgustingly Selective – Donna Carol Voss, The FederalistAdoption Is Love – Heather Duckworth, Her View From HomeBioethicsPhysician Assisted Suicide and the Rise of Suicide Cults – Grace Emily Stark, Public DiscourseJahi McMath, the teen doctors tried to declare dead five years ago, has died – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionObamacareTrump’s New Health Initiative Will Spell Relief for Americans – Robert Moffit, The Daily Signal FamilyMarriage35 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage – Brad & Heidi Mitchell, The StreamWant a better marriage? These core values keep families close – Linda Lewis Griffith, The TribuneFertility and Marriage: An Underappreciated Link – Angela Rachidi, Family StudiesHow Asking For My Husband’s Help Around the House Changed My Life – Elisa Cinelli, Her View From HomeThis Two-Step Process Can Cure Your Lonely Marriage – Greg Smalley, Focus on the FamilyEconomics/EducationTeaching Children How to Manage Money – Laurie DeRose, Family StudiesFor Young Adults, Economic Security Matters for Marriage – Benjamin Gurrentz, U.S. Census BureauFaith/Character/CultureTen Thousand Small Trials: How God Fits Us for Glory – Scott Hubbard, Desiring GodNew Mister Rogers Documentary Is Full Of Surprises About An American Icon – Josh Shepherd, The FederalistHow Flourishing Families Cultivate Great Art – Ashley McGuire, Family StudiesThe Seven Things You Need to Know About Forgiveness – Rob Schwarzwalder, The StreamThe Most Damaging Attitude in Our Churches – C.M. Joyner, RelevantGloom in The Time of Oculus – Matthew Becklo, Word on FireThe American Library Association’s criticism of Little House entirely misses the mark – Megan Basham, WORLDGeneration Vexed – Lois M. Collins and Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret NewsThe Joyful Longing of Paul McCartney’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ – Brett McCracken, The Gospel CoalitionHuman SexualityScientists Have Unwittingly Revealed that the Obergefell Decision Did Nothing to Diminish Sexual Minority Distress – Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse‘Struggling’ with Same-Sex Attractions? – Hudson Byblow, National Catholic RegisterThe FBI Says Sexual Assaults on Flights Increasing ‘At An Alarming Rate’ – National Center on Sexual ExploitationHuman TraffickingTwelve Days of Action: It’s Time to Raise Your Voice – National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyThe Brain’s Delete Button: How You Can Erase Years Of Watching Porn – Fight the New DrugStudy Shows How Watching Porn Could Seriously Increase Your Divorce Risk – Fight the New Drug
Adoption and foster care agencies are the latest battle grounds of religious freedom in the United States today. A number of states have already passed legislation which would protect religiously motivated adoption agencies from being forced to place children with those who identify as LGBT. These bills are called Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts (CWPIA). Not surprisingly, CWPIAs have not passed through state legislatures without opposition. Opponents call them “needless”—but are they? Or are they necessary to ensure the survival of faith-based adoption agencies?In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston shocked the U.S. charity world when, on March 10, it announced it “plann[ed] to be in discussion with the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] to end [its] work in adoption services.” They cited disagreement with the Massachusetts law which required the charity to violate its convictions on a child’s need for a mom and dad. Catholic teaching describes homosexual adoption as gravely immoral. The Archdiocese declared in a statement concerning the issue, “in spite of much effort and analysis, Catholic Charities of Boston finds that it cannot reconcile the teaching of the Church, which guides our work, and the statutes and regulations of the Commonwealth.”This was one of the first situations that showed the dark underbelly of sexual orientation “non-discrimination” policies. Following the Archdiocese of Boston’s decision, Catholic Charities of D.C. was “informed…that the agency would be ineligible to serve as a foster care provider due to the impending D.C. same-sex marriage law.” Catholic Charities was forced into similar situations in southern Illinois and in San Francisco.North Dakota became the first state to protect religious-based charities when, in 2003, it passed a law which states: “A child-placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” In addition, the law also states that a state cannot deny a contract based on religion. These laws read similarly in the states that have passed them. Kansas, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Texas have passed CWPIAs. Oklahoma is the newest state to pass a CWPIA on May 11, 2018.The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares that “[g]overnment shall make no law respecting religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In forcing religious charities to choose between violating their religious beliefs or shutting down, the government is effectively prohibiting the free exercise of religion.Under CWPIAs, no adoption agency is prohibited by the state from allowing anyone to adopt children, it only allows religious charities to uphold their religious belief that children need a mom and dad. There are an estimated 118,000 children in need of adoption in the United States right now. Limiting the number of adoption agencies is certainly not the best way to help them. The well-being of children should be paramount, and they should not be used as pawns in the culture war. Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts allow for religiously motivated charities to continue to operate and place children without violating their consciences, a freedom the government is required under the Constitution to protect.Be sure to read FRC’s in-depth analysis on the importance of CWPIAs.Spencer White is an intern at Family Research Council.
Dear Friends,A recent study reveals that loneliness has now reached epidemic levels in the United States. In a survey of over 20,000 adults 18 and over, the numbers are staggering:Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.Interestingly, the study notes that “Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).” What is not being said here is that this statistic clearly indicates that increased social media use is affecting everyone, not just heavy users.I witnessed a perfect example of this last night at a restaurant. At the booth next to my wife and I, a large family had wedged themselves into both sides of the table. Despite this perfect opportunity for a great evening of quality family time, I couldn’t help but notice that large periods of time went by with the family sitting in silence. Why? Because half of the people at the table had their faces buried in their phones, while the other family members stared off into space. Is it any wonder that half of the country is not having any meaningful conversations with anyone when the people they are trying to talk to are staring down at a screen?This study should be a reminder to believers that we should always be ready and willing to give everyone we encounter our full attention, not just our family and friends. Phones and social media aren’t the only culprits here—often it is our own fear of looking abnormal that keeps us from spending a few moments talking with a homeless person on the street or our Uber driver. We must work on refocusing our priorities to giving everyone in our lives the time and attention they crave and rightfully deserve.God created us to love and to be loved. We all need to be constantly reminded of the timeless adage: “It is good that you exist.” When we spend quality time with our family members and everyone else the Lord puts in our path, we reaffirm this basic truth and help to spread Christ’s Kingdom.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesChristians can influence the world without being influenced – Tony PerkinsWomen & Pornography – Patrina MosleyDismemberment Abortion – Patrina MosleyFlocking to tend to our nation’s spiritual needs – Travis WeberPlanned Parenthood's tax dollar gravy train just got derailed – Cathy RuseImitating My Father – Dan HartGetting to Know Generation Z – Marion MealorGood But Not Great: Don’t Be Fooled by the Masterpiece Decision – Andrew RockWarning to Northern Ireland: Science Without Faith is Dead – Patrina MosleyMasterpiece Cakeshop: How Can a 7-2 Supreme Court Decision Be “Narrow?” – Peter SpriggPolitically Motivated Research Underestimates Risk of Suicide After Abortion – Martha ShupingMasterpiece Cakeshop: Summary of Each Supreme Court Opinion – Peter SpriggThe Ethical Imperative of Adult Stem Cell Research – Hannah BorchersSupreme Court Protects Jack Phillips’ Rights, Tells Colorado: “Not So Fast” – Travis Weber Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareSupreme Court Rules in Favor of Baker Who Declined to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake – National Catholic RegisterState Judge Sides with Christian Baker – Rodney Pelletier, Church MilitantPhiladelphia Archdiocese sues city over foster care placements – Matthew Gambino, CruxValedictorian: “They Told Me I Had to Take Christ Out of My Speech” – ToddStarnes.comA tall Christian cross stood in a Michigan park for nearly 70 years. Now it's gone – Lisa Gutierrez, The Kansas City StarDemocrats introduce bill to counter Sen. Orrin Hatch's religious freedom law – Dennis Romboy, Deseret NewsIndiana high school accepts teacher's resignation over transgender policy – Kathleen Joyce, Fox NewsInternational Religious FreedomPence Meets Indonesia’s Top Muslim Leader After Church Attacks – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today'Human rights disaster': China's persecution of Christians at highest level since Mao – Bradford Richardson, The Washington TimesReligious War Looms in Nigeria as Christian Body Count Climbs – Lela Gilbert, NewsmaxCanada’s top court rules against Christian law school: LGBT rights trump religious freedom – Lianne Laurence, LifeSiteNewsPolice seizes 1,100 Bibles in China’s Shandong province – Madeeha Bakhsh, Christians in PakistanThe Radical Forgiveness One Egyptian Mother Has for Her Son’s Murderers – Lindy Lowry, Open DoorsSeveral Iranian Christians to Serve Time in Prison – Jeffrey Cimmino, The Washington Free BeaconInternational Religious Freedom Report for 2017 – U.S. Department of StateU.S. senator introduces bill for sanctions against Turkey – Hürriyet Daily News LifeAbortionWhat Happened When 3 Women Faced Deep Suffering Rather Than Abort Their Children – Maureen Mullarkey, The FederalistThe Silent Suffering of Fathers After Abortion – Victoria Robinson, The Daily SignalPresident Trump to cut Planned Parenthood funding – Cassy Fiano, Live ActionIreland votes to legalize abortion: ‘a tragedy of historic proportions’ – Claire Chretien, LifeSiteNewsSupreme Court Rejects Planned Parenthood Challenge to Arkansas Pro-Life Law That Could Close Two Abortion Clinics – Steven Ertelt, LifeNewsGirl with Down Syndrome stuns politicians with powerful speech about her ‘right to be alive’ – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNewsPro-life commercial from Herbal Essences stirs up controversy – Nancy Flanders, Live ActionAdoptionFoster Care Fanaticism in Philadelphia – Darel E. Paul, First Things3 Things We Learned While Waiting For Our Adopted Child – Kelly Cox, Her View From HomeI Chose Adoption For My Baby, But I Didn’t Let Go – Leah Outten, Her View From HomeObamacareObamacare Is Shrinking the Individual Health Insurance Market – Edmund Haislmaier, The Daily SignalConservative groups, congressional Republicans appear poised for another try at ObamaCare repeal – Joseph Weber, Fox News FamilyMarriageHow to Build a Healthy Marriage With Authentic Communication – Michelle Habel, Focus on the FamilyFive Myths About Fathers and Family – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesBaby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women – Lyman Stone, Family StudiesHere's why it matters that Americans are having fewer children than ever before – Jeremy Carl, Fox NewsMarriage Support Needs Time to Work – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesCouple with Down syndrome reveals secret to 23 years of wedded bliss – Cerith Gardiner, AleteiaGrandpa's 6 tips for a successful marriage – Jackie Pilossoph, Chicago TribuneNatural Rights, God, and Marriage in the American Founding – Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Public DiscourseEconomics/EducationThe Left’s War Against Prosperity in Seattle – Jarrett Stepman, The Daily SignalFaith/Character/CultureThe Importance of Dads in an Increasingly Fatherless America – Virginia Allen, The Daily SignalOn Father’s Day, Remember the Fatherless – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesThank You For Being a Dad Who Shows Up – Emily Solberg, Her View From HomeWhat Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons – Anthony Esolen, Public DiscourseNo, Amazon Tribes Should Not Be Allowed To Kill Their Children – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistWhat Anthony Bourdain Reveals About Living In The Age Of Loneliness – Ben Domenech, The FederalistHow Faith Communities Can Push Back the Darkness of Suicide – Emilie Kao, The Daily SignalHuman SexualitySchool Can Force Students to Share Bathrooms With Transgender Students, Federal Court Rules – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalSan Diego Parents Pulling Their Kids From School Over Inappropriate Sex-Ed Curriculum – Grace Carr, The Daily SignalThe War Against Abstinence: Blockers, American Pie, and the Last Great Sexual Taboo – Daniel Ross Goodman, Public Discourse'The Dating Project' movie offers a 101-level course in courtship – AleteiaNearly 90 Percent of Public Opposed to Virginia County’s Sex Ed Changes – Rob Shimshock, The Daily CallerHuman TraffickingDOJ Arrests 2,300 Alleged Child Pornographers And Sex Traffickers – Jacob Airey, The Daily WirePornographyRadical Parenting – Protecting Our Kids from Pornography – GretaEskridge.comDoes Pornography Feed Sex Tourism? – Rose Brugger, Public DiscourseMore Americans Say Pornography Is Morally Acceptable – GallupPorn Addict Says 'Wrong Click Changed My Life' as a Teen, Exposing Her to Abusive, Animal-Like Sex – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post
A study published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry online claims that abortion does not increase the risk of suicide. If only that were true. The study by M. Antonia Biggs and colleagues (which I will refer to as “the Biggs study”) used data from the University of California San Francisco’s Turnaway Study. But the results are very questionable because they are inconsistent with many other studies, and the final results of this study are based on only 18 percent of the original sample.The Turnaway Study was intended to provide a comparison between women who aborted and those unable to obtain an abortion due to waiting to come to the clinic until the pregnancy was too advanced (past the limits for the clinic chosen, or for their state). But only 38 percent of eligible women consented to participate in the research, with 15 percent of those dropping out before the first interview (see study). With further dropouts over the five years of the study, only 18 percent of the original sample remained—even though women received a $50 gift certificate for each telephone interview (see study).The low participation rate and the additional dropouts make the results questionable, because it is well known that the most distressed individuals are more likely to avoid participating. This has been reported in research on abortion and other reproductive losses, and in more general trauma research.*The Biggs study concluded that rates of suicidal ideation were comparably low in women who obtained abortions and those who were refused abortions. The authors further conclude that their results show that state laws requiring informed consent about suicide risk should be scrapped as unnecessary. But we lack information on 82 percent of the women who either declined to participate or dropped out. The results may be meaningless if those women included those who were most distressed.In addition, the Biggs study contradicts a large body of research on suicide and abortion. A study from Finland published in the British Medical Journal linked medical records to death certificates, showing that women having abortions had a 650 percent increased risk of suicide compared to women who gave birth.One of the highest quality studies of abortion and mental health was done by Donald Sullins of the Catholic University of America in 2016 using data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (“Add Health”) which was funded by 18 different federal agencies and which provided a nationally representative sample of 8,005 women, with 81 percent of the sample completing this 13-year longitudinal study. In his analysis, Sullins controlled for 13 different potential confounders, and showed increased suicidal ideation in the women who had abortions compared to those who completed pregnancies. In addition, Sullins showed that women having abortions had increased risk for a total of seven different mental health outcomes. The results were statistically significant.The Biggs study is an outlier, giving results that are very different from the results of a number of high quality studies of suicide risk and abortion. The truth is, we have the words of actual women who have attempted or completed suicide. The British artist Emma Beck said in her 2007 suicide note: “I told everyone I didn’t want to do it, even at the hospital . . . now it is too late . . . I want to be with my babies.” The authors of the Biggs study show their political bias in their conclusion that women like Beck have no need to be warned about suicide risk before their abortion.Martha Shuping, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist who lives in Winston-Salem, N.C. *Broen, A.N., Moum, T., Bødtker, A.S., & Ekeberg, Ø. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine, 3,18. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-3-18. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/3/18 Shuping, M. (2016). Counterpoint: Long-lasting distress after abortion. In R. MacNair (Ed.), Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion. Kansas City: Feminism and Nonviolence Studies Association.Weisaeth, L. (1989). Importance of high response rates in traumatic stress research. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplementum, 355, 131-137.
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