Messy Fergusson Detractor



Cathal Mac Coille spoke with Professor Patricia Casey on today’s ‘Morning Ireland’ in response to the Iona Institute’s use of Professor David Fergusson’s research. Professor Fergusson of Otago University in New Zealand said that until the research has been done, “it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does or does not help suicidal women“.

This what she had to say:

Cathal Mac Coille: “Earlier in the programmme, we heard from Professor David Fergusson, a psychologist at the University of Otago in Christchurch who is unhappy with the way he believes his views and in particularly the results of his researchs are being used by those opposed to the introduction of abortion legislation in Ireland and we specifically put it to him a number of remarks made to him, made rather, about him by the Iona Institute which of course opposes abortion legislation and he made clear his unhappiness with the way his views had been ah interpreted and he specifically said that he has not carried out any research at all into women who say they are suicidal and who are looking for an abortion. We’re joined by Professor Patricia Casey of the Iona Institute, clinical psychologist thank you very much..”

Patricia Casey: “Clinical Psychiatrist, Cathal.”

Mac Coille: “Excuse me.”

Casey: “Consultant Clinical Psychiatrist in UCD and the Mater.”

Mac Coille: “Consultant Clinical Psychiatrist at UCD and the Mater. Now the professor is ah saying that things are being said and interpretations are being placed on his work which are not..not accurate. Do you accept that?”

Casey: “Oh no. He didn’t say that at all. He, in fact what he is saying is what I have being saying as a psychiatrist since this debate began. There is absolutely no evidence that abortion is a treatment for women who are suicidal. The evidence just isn’t there because it hasn’t been investigated and in fact I em, I emailed Professor Fergusson over the weekend when this ah news story hit..when this story came to public attention in the Sunday Business Post and here’s what he said “In response to your comments I think that it is drawing a long bow to claim that abortion may be an effective response to suicidal thoughts in pregnancy. As far as I know there is no evidence to support this view and claims of direct evidence seem far fetched”. That’s what he said to you. Em then in relation to the possible effects of abortion on mental health and again you quoted two clips from the Iona and he he em said…”

Mac Coille: “Specifically one was the statement made on the website on the 15th of April, “abortion is of no health benefit”. He says clearly there is no research about that and…”

Casey: “No he no he sorry he has done research about that and he’s said that his latest research found that there was no mental health benefit. It was published on the 4th of April…”

Mac Coille: “And that statement went on. The Iona statement went on “poses more risks for unwanted pregnancies”.

Casey: “Yes because he has found some evidence of mental ill health. What he says here and again he says to me, he said to me in the email “I think that the facts of the matter are relatively simple. There is curently no evidence to suggest that abortion reduces mental health risks. There is suggested but contested evidence that abortion may be associated with modest increases into mental health problems when compared with the outcome of women coming to terms with unintended pregnancies. These considerations suggest that the use of mental health grounds for abortion is highly questionable and that broader criteria that reflect the women that seek abortion are required”. So there is absolutely no disagreement whatsoever.”

Mac Coille: “So when he says as he did that it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women. You accept that?”

Casey: “No. He says there is suggestive evidence and that’s what I’ve…”

Mac Coille: “He says that specifically that it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women which I understand you ah and others who take a similar view, have said repeatedly that abortion does not help women. He’s saying it’s misleading for anyone to say state that emphatically.”

Casey: “Well look he has said there is no evidence that abortion helps women’s mental health. He has said it in the most recent systematic review that he published and indeed I sent a copy of a letter from em from em Peadar O’Grady of Doctors For Choice to him and he said it presents a more or less standard pro-choice reaction by seeking to denigrate the findings of his study while arguing for the validity of other reviews. Now look we..”

Mac Coille: “He is a man who has never studied women who are seeking abortions because they’re suicidal. Therefore, is there…”

Casey: “That’s right. We have never…We we have never”

Mac Coille: “What’s the point…what’s the point in quoting him at all except to say there’s no research?”

Casey: “No nn-no you you are getting things confused. There are there are several aspects here. The first is women who are suicidal. He has said there is no evidence about them and in…”

Mac Coille: “He has said there…he he has carried out no research on this area. If he’s carried out no research..?”

Casey: “Exactly. There is no…there is no…evidence. You cannot say that something is beneficial if there no evidence to support it and there is..”

Mac Coille: “Exactly but…isn’t the opposite side of the coin that you cannot state that it is the opposite because there isn’t evidence or research to show that there to show that it is?”

Casey: “Well the government is proceeding as if there was evidence that it was beneficial and there is no evidence. The second point that he makes in his studies is that when you study women who have had abortions for unwanted pregnancies and compare them with women who give birth there is no evidence of benefit.”

Mac Coille: “When he says that there is…”

Casey: “And thirdly…”

Mac Coille: “….it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically and I’m quoting directly what he said “it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women”. Do you accept what he says?”

Casey: “If he’s saying..if he’s saying that in relation to suicidal women the answer is yes but only because there is no evidence. No studies have been done. That is the problem and that’s what we have said all along. There is no evidence to back up what the government is doing even though the government is proceeding as if there was evidence. There isn’t any evidence.”

Mac Coille: Professor Patricia Casey, thank you very much for talking to us. A minute to nine.”

Listen here.

Listen to Professor Fergusson’s interview here.

Earlier: Rumbled

Previously: A Little Light Reading