Abortion Resolutions

1. 1969

Whereas in many state legislature, bills have recently been introduced for the purpose of repealing or drastically modifying the existing criminal codes with respect to the termination of unwanted pregnancies; and whereas, termination of unwanted pregnancies is clearly a mental health and child welfare issue, and a legitimate concern of APA; be it resolved, that termination of pregnancy be considered a civil right of the pregnant woman, to be handled as other medical and surgical procedures in consultation with her physician, and to be considered legal if performed by a licensed physician in a licensed medical facility.

2. 1980

Whereas in 1969 APA Council adopted the following resolution:

Whereas, in many state legislatures, bills have recently been introduced for the purpose of repealing or drastically modifying the existing criminal codes with respect to the termination of unwanted pregnancies; and whereas, termination of unwanted pregnancies is clearly a mental health and child welfare issue, and a legitimate concern of APA: be it resolved that termination of pregnancy be considered a civil right of the pregnant woman, to be handled as other medical and surgical procedures in consultation with her physician, and to be considered legal if performed by a licensed physician in a licensed medical facility; And whereas, on 22 January 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that We recognize the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intervention into matters fundamentally affecting a person such as the decision whether to bear or beget a child. That right necessarily includes the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy; And whereas, the right to conduct scientific research is fundamental to a free society and to the science and profession of psychology, and political interference in the awarding and releasing of research funds constitutes a serious encroachment on this right; And whereas, the right to conduct scientific research on abortion and reproductive health has been impeded by governmental restrictions and is further threatened by other disturbing attacks; Therefore be it moved, that APA, within the context of its traditional concern for human welfare and freedom of scientific research, affirms the right of qualified researchers to conduct appropriate research in all areas of fertility regulation as long as standards for ethical, scientific and professional conduct are met.

3. 1989

Whereas in 1969, the APA identified freedom of reproductive choice as a mental health and child welfare issue;

Whereas the APA Council of Representatives decries the uninformed movement in many state legislatures to recriminalize abortion to limit access to the full range of reproductive options, especially to poor women who use publicly funded health services;

Whereas erroneous assertions about widespread severe negative psychological effects of abortion are being used to argue for laws that restrict reproductive freedom;

Whereas a review of the best scientific evidence by an APA panel of experts finds these assertions to be without fact;

Whereas uninformed public statements and a lack of understanding about psychological responses after unwanted pregnancy and abortion can themselves create emotional distress;

Whereas the weight of evidence is that legal abortion as a resolution to an unwanted pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedures; and

Whereas the preponderance of scientific data supports the conclusion that freedom of choice and a woman's control over her critical life decisions promotes psychological health;

Therefore be it moved that the Council of Representatives of the APA directs the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer to undertake an immediate initiative to disseminate scientific information on reproductive freedom to policymakers, to the public, and to state psychological associations and APA divisions.

4. February 1992

Council voted to adopt the following resolution on the Rust v. Sullivan Supreme Court Decision:

Rust v. Sullivan Supreme Court Decision

Whereas the American Psychological Association in 1983 determined that . . . requiring clinics to provide the same blanket information to every pregnant woman, rather than to provide each woman whatever information is individually appropriate to her particular needs, is inconsistent with basic principles of effective counseling and will hinder, rather than promote, informed consent."

(APA Amicus Curiae, City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health)

Whereas the American Medical Association and other health care provider organizations have already officially decried the hazardous effects of the Rust v. Sullivan Supreme Court Decision upholding the Title X Family Planning Program Regulations, known as the "Gag Rule"; and

Whereas the American Psychological Association has already adopted previous policies regarding a woman's right to reproductive choice.

Be it resolved that the American Psychological Association deplores the effects of the Title X regulations which prohibit health providers, including psychologists , who receive federal Title X funds, from informing women patients/clients of the availability of the alternative of abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Further, the APA urges the Congress to enact legislation and to override Presidential vetoes, as needed, to both remedy this health hazard and to serve as a precedent to buttress against further erosion of the rights associated with Roe v. Wade.

Further, APA will seek to inform Congress, the public and its own membership of its position and its recommendations through a public affairs and advocacy effort including but not limited to:

  1. Press conferences in several major cities

  2. Letter writing and mail campaigns

  3. News releases

  4. APA Monitor and other appropriate APA, Division, and State Association publications

Further, we direct the Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association to activate the necessary mechanisms to ensure the accomplishments of the aims and goals of this resolution, including the capacity to respond to ongoing critical reproductive issues [by participating in public information/media outreach efforts as necessary to help preserve a woman's right to choose.