The Pro-Abortion Turnaway Study Is Being Exploited In Congressional Misinformation Campaign

David C. Reardon

To fulfill their long-sought goal, Democrats are turning to discredited studies about who gets abortions and why.

Before her retirement last year, former congresswoman and House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) said it was her “fervent wish” that Congress remove “once and for all” the Hyde amendment. Hyde and similar riders, which for decades enjoyed bipartisan support, have prevented taxpayer funding of abortion-on-demand. Hyde, Lowey said, “deserves to be in the dustbin of history.”

The current chair, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.), has promised to make good on Lowey’s wish. Appropriations requests are due in the House by the end of this month; President Biden’s budget is expected shortly after. The president has already signed one significant piece of legislation that rejected Hyde. The Hyde-free “American Rescue Plan” signified a turn away from the long-standing consensus that taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions. Emboldened by this move, Democratic leaders in Congress are targeting a repeal of the Hyde amendment ban on abortion funding (a policy that has saved more than 2.4 million lives) by appeals to deeply flawed and misleading research.

For instance, in a recent congressional hearing, DeLauro read an intimidating list of alleged negative and even deadly outcomes for women who sought abortions but were “turned away.” Her source for those claims was The Turnaway Study by Diana Greene Foster. Foster is research director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, an advocate of loosening all legal limits on abortion.

The Turnaway Study is easily summarized. In Foster’s telling, her data set is so superior that every other study can be ignored. Moreover, her claim is data conclusively prove that (a) women rarely regret their abortions, (b) abortion carries no risks to women, and (c) the real danger to women is any law that slows or inhibits quick and easy access to abortion, including late-term abortions.

For ideologues, Foster’s grandiose claims are sufficient to hail her Turnaway Study as definitive. For anyone who cares about good science, The Turnaway Study is an egregious example of ideologically driven junk science.

The first fatal flaw is that it is based on a nonrandom, self-censoring sample of volunteers. It is nonrandom because abortion-facility counselors selectively chose whom to invite. It is self-censored because 69 percent of women refused to participate, even when promised up to $500. Plus, 55 percent of the minority who did participate subsequently dropped out.

Other studies have shown that the women least likely to agree to be interviewed after an abortion are those who most anticipate negative feelings. They self-censor precisely to avoid arousal of those negative feelings.

Worse, Foster never mentions her embarrassingly low participation rate in her journal abstracts or news releases. The first several studies published using Foster’s data also omitted these details. Only when peer reviewers, such as myself, demanded more background on participation rates were they finally published.

Elsewhere, Foster dismisses the low response rate because other studies initiated at abortion facilities also have low participation rates. But the proper reference point should be good studies, not other poor studies. For example, surveys of women receiving mastectomies often have participation rates of over 90 percent and many journals don’t consider publishing a study with less than a 60 percent participation rate.

Despite this sample bias, Foster garnered international headlines for The Turnaway Study’s most famous finding: 95 percent of women remain happy with their decision three years after their abortions.

But once again, this claim doesn’t survive close inspection.

Click on link below to read the entire article

More Messages…