Monday, December 19, 2016

Women’s Mental Health and Well-being 5 Years After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion: A Prospective, Longitudinal Cohort Study

This study has been widely reported in the press. But because the conclusions of it suit Leftists, I immediately went to the underlying journal article -- Abstract below. After many years of reading academic articles with conclusions that suit the Left, I was immediately 90% certain the underlying article would be a heap of bullshit. It is. Leftists are so out of touch with reality, that reality rarely suits them. So they have to spin like tops to claim support for their ideas.

This article purports to test the well-known intuitive claim that having an abortion damages a woman psychologically. But it does not test that claim at all. Why? Because it is a survey that includes only women who have sought an abortion. It has no control group such as a matched sample of non-pregnant women or women who have never sought an abortion but who have instead bravely decided from early on to continue with an unplanned pregnancy. And without a proper control group it tells you nothing. You have no basis for comparisons

M. Antonia Biggs et al.


Importance: The idea that abortion leads to adverse psychological outcomes has been the basis for legislation mandating counseling before obtaining an abortion and other policies to restrict access to abortion.

Objective: To assess women’s psychological well-being 5 years after receiving or being denied an abortion.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This study presents data from the Turnaway Study, a prospective longitudinal study with a quasi-experimental design. Women were recruited from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2010, from 30 abortion facilities in 21 states throughout the United States, interviewed via telephone 1 week after seeking an abortion, and then interviewed semiannually for 5 years, totaling 11 interview waves. Interviews were completed January 31, 2016. We examined the psychological trajectories of women who received abortions just under the facility’s gestational limit (near-limit group) and compared them with women who sought but were denied an abortion because they were just beyond the facility gestational limit (turnaway group, which includes the turnaway-birth and turnaway-no-birth groups). We used mixed effects linear and logistic regression analyses to assess whether psychological trajectories differed by study group.

Main Outcomes and Measures: We included 6 measures of mental health and well-being: 2 measures of depression and 2 measures of anxiety assessed using the Brief Symptom Inventory, as well as self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Results: Of the 956 women (mean [SD] age, 24.9 [5.8] years) in the study, at 1 week after seeking an abortion, compared with the near-limit group, women denied an abortion reported more anxiety symptoms (turnaway-births, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.01 to 1.13; turnaway-no-births, 2.29; 95% CI, 1.39 to 3.18), lower self-esteem (turnaway-births, –0.33; 95% CI, –0.56 to –0.09; turnaway-no-births, –0.40; 95% CI, –0.78 to –0.02), lower life satisfaction (turnaway-births, –0.16; 95% CI, –0.38 to 0.06; turnaway-no-births, –0.41; 95% CI, –0.77 to –0.06), and similar levels of depression (turnaway-births, 0.13; 95% CI, –0.46 to 0.72; turnaway-no-births, 0.44; 95% CI, –0.50 to 1.39).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, compared with having an abortion, being denied an abortion may be associated with greater risk of initially experiencing adverse psychological outcomes. Psychological well-being improved over time so that both groups of women eventually converged. These findings do not support policies that restrict women’s access to abortion on the basis that abortion harms women’s mental health.

JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.3478

Five Ways CFPB Regulations Harm the Middle Class

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was set up in 2010 to “make consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole.” Yet the Bureau has imposed rule after rule that hurts consumers and the middle class especially. Here are five ways the CFPB could be causing you financial problems:

If you’ve found it difficult to get a mortgage from your bank, that may be because of the CFPB’s qualified mortgage (QM) rules. The QM rule empowers trial lawyers and makes it incredibly easy for borrowers to sue banks not just for fraud and deception, but for overestimating the borrower's “ability to pay,” a standard that is inherently subjective. It also effective outlaws even slight adjustments on a mortgage’s interest rates.

As a result of these new costs and liabilities, many small banks and credit unions have simply stopped issuing new mortgages. Middle-income responsible borrowers suffer from the lack of available mortgages the rules have created. Some of this is the fault of the Dodd-Frank statute, but it’s the CFPB that refused to exempt many rural and small banks and credit unions, as the law directs.

It is making low-dollar short-term loans very difficult to get. Everyone who is in constrained financial circumstances knows that there will come a time when you need access to ready cash quickly. Financial responsibility dictates that you pay a bill on time even if you have to borrow to do so. Of course, many people in constrained circumstances have low credit ratings and may not have a credit card, so they are forced to look for short-term loan financing like payday loans or vehicle title loans. Yet the CFPB is looking to kill off these industries on the specious argument that they harm their consumers.

As our author Hilary Miller found earlier this year, academic research into the effects of payday loans suggests that there have no harmful effects, and are possibly beneficial. If you can’t get a short-term loan and fail to pay a bill, the consequences can be devastating – yet the Bureau thinks it is protecting consumers by effectively banning them. Worse yet, the rule will actually make it difficult for credit unions to offer loans designed to pay off payday loans!

The Bureau wants you to sue people you have a disagreement rather than engage in low-cost arbitration. Taking someone to court over a commercial dispute can be very expensive and time-consuming for both sides. That’s why throughout history, customers and vendors and other parties to agreements have bound themselves to decisions from private arbitration services – George Washington even inserted an arbitration clause into his will.

Congress recognized the vital role arbitration plays in the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925. Yet the CFPB wants to ban the use of binding arbitration services in financial contracts. This will raise the costs of financial companies and therefore raise costs to middle class consumers – many of whom will no longer be able to afford the services as a result. By forcing consumers to use the court system, most likely by being part of a class action run by trial lawyers, those middle class consumers will also suffer delays in their access to redress of grievances – a class action takes on average three years to come to a settlement while arbitration takes just under 7 months.

New rules for prepaid products could hurt innovative payment methods like Venmo. Anyone with college-age kids knows that the fastest way to get money to them when they need it is Venmo or another such payment app. Many middle class workers these days also get their wages delivered by a prepaid card, which takes away some of the hassles of having a bank account – you don’t have to wait for your wages check to clear, for instance.

Yet the CFPB is yet again worried that some people don’t understand the terms and consitions of prepaid products and payment systems and so has imposed an 800-page rule that mandates disclosures in such terms as font size – which is meaningless for an online app like Venmo. Once again, the rule will just pile up costs on financial firms and therefore reduce the amount and scope of the products they have available, harming the consumers who use those products.

The Bureau is compiling massive amounts of data, violating your privacy – and it wants to share some data even with foreign governments. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote last year in The Wall Street Journal, “Every month the CFPB … gathers data on 22 million mortgages, 5.5 million student loans, two million bank accounts with overdraft fees, and hundreds of thousands of auto sales, credit scores and deposit advance loans.” This database has been criticized by the Government Accountability Office for potential security risks and failing to adequately protect consumer financial data.

Moreover, a recent rulemaking entitled “Proposed Amendments Relating to Disclosure of Records and Information,” has come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as imposing prior restraints on speech. The same rule would also allow the Bureau to share supervisory information it collected with other regulators such as state attornies general and even foreign governments, allowing the potential for unwarranted fishing expeditions, despite being explicitly forbidden from doing so in the Dodd-Frank Act.

The CFPB’s unwarranted and abusive exercise of its unconstitutional power should hopefully come to an end soon. The new President should do what he does best and fire Bureau Director Richard Cordray. The middle class will thank him for it – and so will their pocket books.


Leftist child abuse


While appearing on a show that lowers the collective IQ of the nation by at least one standard deviation, The View, Ali Wentworth, wife of ABC News Objective News Anchor George Stephanopoulos explained what Election Night was like at the Stephanopoulos/Wentworth home: "It involves my 14-year-old getting upset about the election and screaming ‘NO ABORTION!' really loudly, and I was like, ‘you haven't kissed a boy yet. Don't use that term so flippantly.'"

If you're wondering why the left has gone insane, perhaps it's because they were raised to be insane, and they're raising their children the same way.

Why in the world does a 14-year-old girl think that her world is ending because Donald Trump has been elected president? More importantly, why would she think her world is ending because of possible restrictions on abortion? Are leftist parents truly raising their daughters to believe that their rights to freedom are dependent on their ability to kill their own offspring in the womb?

I will raise my children to believe that certain rights are sacred: the right to religious practice, the right to freedom of speech, the right to defend ourselves. But the notion of teaching a little girl that abortion is the chief right women should expect from their government, or that their life is somehow inevitably impacted by laws cracking down on abortion is patently nuts.

The fact that some leftists apparently teach their children that liberty can be boiled down not to individual choice and responsibility for that choice, but to the ability to pay a clinic to remove a baby from the womb - that's reprehensible.

As the parent of a daughter, here's what I plan to tell her about abortion: "Honey, when you get married, and when you have sex and get pregnant, that will be the greatest joy you can experience - I know that because it was the greatest joy your mother and I ever experienced.

Your birth was the highlight of our lives, and your existence is a timeless reminder that God loves us and you, and that He favors us with miracles, none greater than your creation. You are beloved of God, and your children will be too. Children are the greatest gift we can receive. To spurn that gift - and to destroy another human life - is a great evil, no matter countervailing concerns."

We're religious. But even if we weren't, the lecture wouldn't change all that much: children are the greatest thing in life -- and they are lives, regardless of religion or secularism -- and suggesting that true freedom lies in the ability to kill children in the womb is gross. Propagandizing 14-year-olds with that suggestion is even more gross.

But if you tell your kids that Evil Republicans are coming in the night to raid your womb, it's no wonder they get hysterical when Democrats lose elections.


Australia should take in more Middle Eastern Christian refugees

This Christmas will probably be the first in almost two millennia when there is no sizeable Christian presence in the Middle East. The situation in that part of the world is the ultimate confluence of religion and politics, two topics Australians do not like to mix. Most of us until recently have had very little understanding of how the two do intersect in the Middle East.

Christian refugees from the Middle East are not just casualties of war, they are victims of targeted persecution. They are fleeing war but, unlike many other refugees, they can never go back. We are not just facing a huge geopolitical realignment in the Middle East but the expurgation of entire Christian populations in the area that gave birth to Christianity: Iraq and Syria, the ancient lands of Mesopotamia.

In Iraq, where the 1987 census estimated a Christian population of 1.4 million, the numbers have dwindled to about 200,000.

Islamic fundamentalism is the cause of this, not just the war. The war has been the means to clear all minority groups, not just Christians but Jews, Yazidis and Druze Muslims. Things were better for religious minorities, particularly Christians, under Iraq and Syria’s Baathist regimes than they will ever be again.

Meanwhile, Australia pursues a religiously “blind” immigration and refugee policy. This is all very well as a general line in a secular society that does not privilege religion. But the Middle East’s Christians are fleeing not simply war but persecution because of their religion. Like it or not, we cannot be religiously blind in our choice of refugees.

Despite this, it is almost impossible to find out how many Christians have been allowed into Australia under the refugee program. When the government announced 12,000 new places, it was assumed they would be filled largely by Christians and other minorities, but the department will not, or cannot, reveal the make-up of these people. From November last year to December 2, a total of 10,092 visas have been granted and 8317 refugees have arrived in Australia.

The announcement of an extra 12000 refugees from Syria and Iraq was generally met with approval by the population. Many Australians had no idea until the conflagration in Syria and Iraq that there were so many Christians in those countries, who were being systematically murdered and forced out of their homes.

Likewise, until the murderous so-called Arab Spring turned to bleak winter for the Copts of Egypt, that large Christian minority, estimated at about 15 per cent of Egypt’s population, was usually ignored by most the world’s media. That changed when church burnings and massacres started to take a toll. Just last Sunday, a suicide bomber massacred 24 people in a Cairo church. The lukewarm response of the Australian government came in a tweet by Malcolm Turnbull condemning the atrocities in Turkey and Egypt. About 300 Egyptian Copts have applied for and been granted asylum in Australia, but at present many are being denied despite the acknowledged atrocities and persecutions.

Even after the latest atrocity, several Egyptians are awaiting deportation. Take, for example, the case of Inas Ghobreyal, who has been given about five weeks before deportation. Inas is the mother of two children and fled Egypt after the firebombing of St George Church by a Muslim mob next to where she lived not far from Cairo. Her husband was attacked and badly assaulted. She came to Australia on a visitor’s visa four years ago, with her two girls, Clara and Marie, now 10 and 7. Recently buoyed by the stated willingness of the Prime Minister to take more Christians from the Middle East, she petitioned Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who she claims acknowledges the atrocities against the Copts but has refused her a visa. A spokesman for the Coptic Association says there appears to be inconsistency in the granting of asylum for Egyptians. He also claims the situation of the Coptics was more readily acknowledged under Labor.

The reason for this inconsistency is basically that the regime in Egypt has improved the official situation of Copts. However, as the latest massacre shows, this is not necessarily an improvement on the ground. There is a lot of suspicion that, in a country where the churches have X-ray machines to prevent explosives and weapons being smuggled in, some of the police have been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian Copts fear, with some justification, that it may not be long before they, too, are in the same position as the Syrians and Iraqis. Their fate will echo that of Christians in Palestine, the original Christians. In 1948, when Israel was founded, Christians formed more than a third of the Palestinian population. As Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, told me in 2007, “stuck between the hammer of the Israeli oppression, beaten on the anvil of Islamic fundamentalism”, Christians are now a mere 2 per cent of the Palestinian population.

Islamic fundamentalism is a scourge, even for Australia’s law-abiding Muslims. So we must ask: can Australia afford to be religiously blind in its choice of immigrants and refugees?



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.


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