Journal Considering Retraction of Article Used to Support Federal Court Ruling on South Dakota Law
Find all articles about this court decision here.
Earlier this year, an analysis by leading researchers completely discredited a key article used as "evidence" by the state of South Dakota and anti-choice supporters in their arguments to the 8th Circuit Federal Appeals Court supporting a law forcing doctors to tell women seeking to terminate a pregnancy that abortion is linked with higher risks of suicide and depression.
The researchers also called on the editors of the Journal of Psychiatric Research (JPR) in which the article was originally published in 2009 to retract the article, a step now under consideration by the editors, one of which cited the article's "serious deficiencies."
The article is titled “Induced abortion and anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders: Isolating the effects of abortion in the national co-morbidity survey” (Coleman et al., 2009).
In the article, lead author Priscilla Coleman and her colleagues purported to show a relationship between past abortions and mental disorders that were present “at the time of data collection, providing assurance that in most cases, the abortion preceded the diagnosis,” thus ostensibly supporting a causal relationship between abortion and subsequent mental health. The analysis relied, to a great degree, on previous work done by Coleman and her team.
In October 2010, however, Julia Steinberg of the University of California San Francisco and Lawrence Finer of the Guttmacher Institute published in the journal Social Science & Medicine a re-analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey data set on which Coleman based her work. Their analysis demonstrated that the share of women in the Coleman study was much too high for events occurring in the past 30 days (the measure most similar to “present or absent at the time of data collection”), and also identifying a number of other errors the analytical approach used in the Coleman paper.
In response, Coleman and colleagues published a corrigendum (correction) that same year attempting to explain why their case made sense. Only it didn't. Further inquiry only turned up more problems with the Coleman analysis.