He’s Not Unhappy


FERGUSSON DAVID 2010He just squints like that in the sun.

We’ve been asked to print the fairly strange clarification made on today’s ‘Morning Ireland’ by Cathal MacCoille at the behest of the Iona Institute.

It regarded on-air speculation about New Zealand Professor David Fergusson’s state of mind when he discovered his research was being used by the Iona Institute

As the institute are usually such sticklers for this type of thing we are happy to oblige.

‘On Tuesday, May 7th, we broadcast interviews with Professor David Fergusson of Otago University, Christchurch, New Zealand and with Professor Patricia Casey, Consultant Psychiatrist in UCD and the Mater. The subject was the reported unhappiness by Professor Fergusson at the way his research was being interpreted by pro-life parties to the abortion debate here. In the course of the interview with Professor Casey, I said that Professor Fergusson had said he was unhappy at the way the Iona Institute had been citing his research. In fact, Professor Fergusson did not say he was unhappy with how the Iona Institute quoted his research and we’re happy to clarify that.


Listen To Professor Fergusson’s interview here and YOU decide

Previously: Messy Fergusson Detractor

Pic: University of Otago

20 thoughts on “He’s Not Unhappy

  1. Paul Moloney

    Er, who asked you to print this clarification? Sure, he didn’t say he was unhappy. What he said was:

    “It does not show that to be so because we haven’t compared women coming in and seeking abortions and their risks of suicide subsequently. It does distinctly raise the possibility that the claim may not be sound, but it doesn’t test that claim directly. And until the claim is tested directly, it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does or does not help suicidal women. So I’m really taking a position of sitting on the fence here, saying if the research hasn’t been done, we really need to adopt a neutral position on this argument until better information is available…

    “I think that the issue here is, when someone comes presenting directly with intent to suicide thoughts which do threaten their lives, it would be wrong to generalise back from that research to the situation I’m describing.”


    1. droid

      Ah. So he didn’t see he was unhappy, rather that the anyone who uses the research in the way Iona use it are ‘wrong’ and ‘misleading’.

      1. Kieran


        I guess we can conclude then that since he’s not unhappy, he is in fact happy that the Iona Institute used his research in ways that are ‘wrong’ and ‘misleading’.

        Sure it goes without saying that anyone would be happy being misrepresented like that.

    2. Jandals

      Obviously, this means instead of maintaining your professional standards (*massive side-eye Casey*), you have to read the minds of those who have read your paper so as to defend the correct interpretation of your work. Silly researchers!

    3. PaddyJoe

      As I recall Cathal McCoille said in the introduction to his interview with Prof Fergusson that he(Fergusson) was unhappy with how the Iona Institute had quoted his research.

  2. Eoin

    Does he kinda contradict himself?

    He says:
    It does not show that abortion is not a treatment for suicide. It raises the possibility that the claim may not be sound. Misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does/does not help suicidal women.

    But also: Abortion may lead to increased risk of some mental health problems.

    Is it that the above (abortion may lead to increased risk of mental health subsequent to abortion) has not been proven?

  3. Tom

    Kudos BS, though I hope you’re not an Iona mouthpiece now.

    As far as I understand it the Prof. Casey claim is that there is no evidence that abortion is a treatment for suicide.

    Prof. Ferg agrees, but then says that it is misleading to extrapolate from this that abortion is emphatically not a treatment for suicidality – a distinct claim but one not generally being made by pro-lifers such as Casey.

    A nuanced distinction, but obviously pretty important.

    1. Captain Obvious

      Mother of Christ!!! …I do see the irony of that by the way….
      If I hear one more person talking about ‘treatment for suicide’ I will fuc*ing scream!!!! ….It is up there with deciding how best to stitch back on someones head. Suicide, being what it is, has no treatment…the best you can do is turn up to the funeral and pay your respects.

      1. Tom

        Cap’n, the reason why the suicide/treatment line is being used so much is because the SC in X effectively prescribed abortion as a treatment for suicide. So there is a legal basis for that line, even if there is no medical basis for the legal basis, if you get me.

        1. Nigel

          Well, clearly it was decided that there was in that one case, though phrasing it as ‘treatment for suicide’ strikes me as deeply prbolematic, but I guess that’s the idea.

        2. cluster

          ‘Treatment for suicide’ is a deliberately misleading way of summarising the judgement in the X-case.

  4. Jandals

    From my understanding of the paper, those who had abortions had higher risk of later mh problems. But they had higher mh problems at the start too (not entirely clear if this was taken into account) and only a small number had abortions (about 300). MH issue was found in the UK review as well.

    Basically, I think he is outlining what his research showed, with disclaimers for the limitations, and saying it cant be interpreted how it has been as it wasn’t just measuring suicide.

          1. cluster

            Almost everything they say is lies or at best misleading because they can’t come out and say that the Pope has decided for us all.

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