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The Presence and Consequences of Abortion Aversion in Scientific Research Related to Alcohol Use during Pregnancy


Recent research has found that most U.S. state policies related to alcohol use during pregnancy adversely impact health. Other studies indicate that state policymaking around substance use in pregnancy-especially in the U.S.-appears to be influenced by an anti-abortion agenda rather than by public health motivations. This commentary explores the ways that scientists' aversion to abortion appear to influence science and thus policymaking around alcohol and pregnancy. The three main ways abortion aversion shows up in the literature related to alcohol use during pregnancy include: (1) a shift from the recommendation of abortion for "severely chronic alcoholic women" to the non-acknowledgment of abortion as an outcome of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy; (2) the concern that recommendations of abstinence from alcohol use during pregnancy lead to terminations of otherwise wanted pregnancies; and (3) the presumption of abortion as a negative pregnancy outcome. Thus, abortion aversion appears to influence the science related to alcohol use during pregnancy, and thus policymaking-to the detriment of developing and adopting policies that reduce the harms from alcohol during pregnancy.

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