A task force of APA's Div. 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) recently launched a Web site section that seeks to correct inaccurate information about reproductive health-- abortion, in particular--by featuring research-based literature and scholarly opinions.
"When you search the Web for information on 'abortion and mental health' you are assaulted with misinformation from anti-abortion advocates," says psychologist Linda J. Beckman, PhD, co-chair of the Psychological Issues section of Div. 35's Task Force on Reproductive Issues and psychology professor at Alliant International University. "This is our attempt to let people know the facts." Nancy Felipe Russo, PhD, regents professor in psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe, and S. Marie Harvey, associate professor of public health at the University of Oregon in Eugene, also co-chair the section.
The group is working with sociologist Eleanor Lee, who founded the Pro-Choice Forum Web site in 1998. The task force chose to collaborate with the site, based in the United Kingdom, because of its international audience, says Russo, adding that anti-abortion and other reproductive health misinformation is spread globally. For example, some pro-life advocates assert that women who terminate pregnancies are susceptible to "post-abortion syndrome," says Russo. "Anti-abortion advocates allege that post-abortion syndrome is a type of post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], though no scientific basis exists for applying a PTSD framework to understanding women's emotional responses to a voluntarily obtained legal abortion," she says. To say that women's emotional responses after a voluntary legal abortion are incongruent with a PTSD framework is not to say that abortion cannot be traumatic or that it has no relationship to mental health," continues Russo. "But understanding women's responses requires another framework, and we believe a 'stress and coping' framework is more appropriate for conceptualizing the findings in the scientific literature."
The Psychological Issues section of the Pro-Choice Forum's Web site:
Includes critical summaries of the scientific literature.
Promotes mental health practices within service-delivery agencies based on the most recent information and approaches.
Focuses on how health professionals can contribute to informed policy-making by providing research-based testimony, written commentary and other communications.
Reviews and examines issues, events, books and films from diverse psychological perspectives.
Provides information on conferences, briefings and other media events.
Provides links to other Web sites, giving users access to additional facts and resources.