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Youth VAD is a Lethal Twist in the ACT

As part of the ACT Human Rights Minister’s consultation on VAD laws, the ACT Government is considering whether Voluntary Assisted Dying could be made available to teenagers.

Rob Norman, ACT’s political director, said,

“Euthanasia for teenagers opens up a modern-day pandora’s box. The slippery slope of deciding who, how, and when, a person’s suffering justifies lethal intervention, coupled with unprecedented mental health issues, and high youth suicide rates make for a dire situation indeed. Worryingly, suicide remains the leading cause of death of children in Australia.

“For Minister Cheyne to link a course of action that ends in death as a ‘safe and effective medical process’ is both ironic and macabre.

Signalling that VAD may be available for teenagers is irresponsible as it sends a dangerous message to vulnerable teenagers.

“If this proposal progresses, our entire culture will be dangerously and irrevocably changed for the worse.”

The Australian Christian Lobby calls on the ACT Government to suspend its public consultation and focus on preventing youth suicide in the ACT.


Source: Australian Christian Lobby via Australian Prayer Network. Photo by Rachel Claire.

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And We Know – Feb 25th, 2023

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Russia interrupts moment of silence https://t.me/realKarliBonne/154422

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NTSB official on the train derailment: https://t.me/PepeMatter/14611

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Secretary of Defense Chris Miller just went on Timcast and absolutely blew away the narrative that President Trump was trying to stage a military coup on January 6th. https://t.me/realKarliBonne/154493

Paul Harvey: If I were the Devil…



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Criminal Elites Are Getting Sloppy

Bowne Report – Feb 24, 2023

We live in a time when the Clinton body count is just a foregone conclusion. As court released details about the 2022 suicide of Bill Clinton aide Mark Middleton who signed in Jeffrey Epstein 7 out of the 17 times he visited the White House and rode on the Lolita Express as a Clinton liason, reveals he managed to tie himself to a tree with an electrical cord and shoot himself with a gun that didn’t exist at the scene. Its obvious, there are zero repercussions for those in power and the feeding frenzy by globalist parasites in league with the Clinton’s upon the American public is well underway.

That is why it is disturbing to the human fight or flight instinct when recent fires at manufacturing and food processing plants in Fayeteville West Virginia, Gothenburg Nebraska, Medley Florida, and Bedford Ohio raise alarms causing the innocent populace, dubbed by the powerful as conspiracy theorists and deplorable, to do a double take.

Who is responsible for these fires? Is it Soros Antifa, Neo Nazis, Mexican Cartels, Illegal Aliens, Russians or the Chinese? Or a combination of all of them? One thing is for sure they are increasing. And like the Clinton body count its getting sloppier.

In Frankford,Pennsylvania Multiple Law enforcement responded after a 18-inch pipe bomb that is capped at both ends was removed for further investigation.

And while the elites push for a digital ID prison planet system that they wanted implemented yesterday.

The crime scene that is East Palestine, Pennsylvania reveals more sloppy malice aforethought. Were the Trump supporters that make up most of the population of East Palestine merely a targeted Agenda 2030 digital ID experiment?

And was the density of organic farms, the Amish population, and food processing plants in and around East Palestine just another target as Bill Gates and foreign interests buy up U.S. farmland? Its right in front of you.

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SourceSouth Australian Gov Criminal Organisation

Banning My Son From Doodling A Gun Is Not A Solution To School Shootings

Banning My Son From Doodling A Gun Is Not A Solution To School Shootings

What is it that makes a little boy — practically straight out of the womb — take an interest in weapons and emulate gun-toting, swash-buckling heroes? Even doctors aren’t sure. As one pediatrician told me about my then 16-month-old son who turned every stick into a sword, “We don’t know why. They just do it.”

If you’ve raised a little boy, you know what I’m talking about. And the only thing more predictable than them being fascinated with weapons is them eventually doodling one in class. An alien with a laser gun. An elf with a sword. Rambo with a machine gun.

When they do, they’ll encounter a host of school polices banning images of weapons, ostensibly to prevent school shootings and other violence. Some make exceptions for historical context (such as a Revolutionary War soldier with a bayonet).

Others don’t. Who can forget the infamous Pop-Tart gun of 2016? The 7-year-old was suspended.

If your child is lucky, he’ll be told to put the drawing away. If he’s unlucky, he’ll be sent to the principal’s office and then to the school counselor, where he may even be given a suicide assessment.

No Drawings with Guns Allowed

My first encounter with this type of policy was when my youngest boy came home from a Fairfax County, Virginia, elementary school with his shirt inside out. On the front was an image of a Lego Ewok holding — eek! — a tiny axe.

I recently encountered this policy again with my 10-year-old son. He had gotten in trouble for drawing a police officer holding a gun. A police officer.

Author's son's drawing.
Author’s son’s drawing.

In an email, my son’s teacher said she explained to him that drawing weapons in class is not allowed and encouraged him to “stick to dragons and landscapes.”

My heart goes out to my son’s teacher, and to every teacher, who has to worry about one of their students bringing a weapon to class. But I was honest: I have no problem with my son drawing a police officer with a gun, an alien with a gun, or pretty much any other living creature holding a gun. Bugs Bunny once pointed a gun at Nasty Canasta. I’m fine with that, too.

My son’s interest in guns is not a violent one because he’s not a violent boy. He’s a peacemaker — an empathetic child who cares for animals and respects teachers. He’s shot real guns under the supervision of responsible, trained adults. His grandfather was a cop, which is why he sees them as heroes.

But the fact remains: He’s a boy, and boys have been drawing weapons for hundreds of years. 

Part of the thinking behind forbidding gun imagery, I gather, is that if a boy takes an interest in guns, he’ll take an interest in bringing a gun to school and killing people with it.

Signs of Mental Illness?

Schools must enforce the thinking of our increasingly leftist-controlled culture, which paints gun usage as only negative. There is no sporting use. No self-defense use. No stopping-the-bad-guys use. Were guns a moral good when they stopped Hitler from marching millions more into the gas chambers? I think so.

Perhaps the thinking behind the “no gun imagery” rule is that fellow students will look at the drawing and fear the child is the next Nikolas Cruz, thus creating an uncomfortable learning environment.

If the child is mentally ill and has the intent to do harm, wouldn’t the drawing provide important and life-saving insight into his mental state? And wouldn’t he draw it anyway, regardless of your policy? Ethan Crumbley, who killed four fellow students at his Michigan high school, wasn’t drawing cops or cowboys. The blood-soaked images he drew were surrounded by clear red flags: “My life is useless.” “Blood everywhere.” “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.”

The second and more likely possibility: The child is not mentally ill and is drawn, in true male fashion, to the gun-toting (or tiny axe-holding) hero archetype. If it scares the teacher and fellow students to see a doodle like this, they are inferring something about the nature of males that is incorrect: that aggression and strength can never be harnessed for good.

A gun is a neutral extension of the person holding it. It can bring peace and restore justice, or it can destroy peace and create injustice. Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be fired. A police officer defending innocents is good. A murderous gunman surrounded by schizophrenic rantings is bad — and deserves the attention of parents and authorities.

No Discretion Allowed

To determine what kind of drawing they’re looking at, teachers could simply use discretion. Yet, unfortunately, discretion is what today’s inflexible school policies — and our increasingly litigious society — prevent. Every incident is treated the same, with no regard for the damage it may do to the child.

What is that damage? When a boy gets punished for drawing a weapon, he is being gaslit and emasculated. He will probably still be interested in guns, only now he’ll feel guilty for it. He’ll see his interest as psychotic. He may even be introduced — by his teachers — to the very adult concept of suicide. 

As Michel de Montaigne, the great French Renaissance philosopher who believed in the philosophical, nonviolent education of children observed: “By punishing boys for depravity before they are depraved, you make them so.”

Whether we like it or not, guns and weapons are a masculine interest. And if you suppress healthy masculine interests, you tend to get a rebound effect, and not a good one. The only masculinity that is “toxic” is the kind that erupts when boys have no healthy outlets for these interests. Case in point: America’s schools keep suppressing masculinity and yet we keep getting more of what we don’t want — violence and fury.

The group of boys in Florida who savagely beat a 9-year-old girl on the school bus in an assault straight out of “Lord of the Flies” weren’t allowed to draw guns in school either. But they no doubt never learned what a fair fight is, or (thanks to our society’s obsession with erasing male-female differences) that there is a weaker sex. Did they have nonviolent guidance and love from adults, and a way — other than perhaps violent video games — to diffuse masculine interests?

In my interactions with teachers over this issue, I’ve been told time and again that they agree with me (or at least understand my points) but that “these are simply the times we live in.”

How Can a Child Understand?

This defeatist explanation seems to suit us adults for the moment, but does it make sense to a child? A 10-year-old doesn’t have the knowledge or the maturity to wrap his head around the “epidemic of school and mass shootings.” The rule only makes sense to him if we burden him with a dark, pessimistic view of the world — leading only to more anxiety and more shame.

He doesn’t know why his desire to draw a cowboy or an alien or a cop with a gun is a red flag. He just knows that Doc Holliday looks cool when he twirls his gun in “Tombstone.” He’s drawing the same doodle that a member of the Greatest Generation would have done in school, only he’s getting punished for it.

We should ask ourselves if the remedies that schools are employing to stop school shooters are only making normal little boys feel like psychopaths until they surrender to a softer, weaker, more effeminate version of how God created them. And then as parents who love our little boys, we need to do something about it.

Charlotte Schuyler is a mother of three boys, a freelance writer, a 2020 Claremont Speechwriters Fellow, and the director of member communications for the Conservative Partnership Institute in Washington, D.C.


Masculinity is Only Celebrated When Men Act Like Women: The Church’s Opportunity

In these challenging times that we now live in, it is of vital importance that the church dedicates itself to maintaining a vigilant watch over our children who are our next generation.  

I believe that the older generations of Christians — mothers and fathers, teachers, leaders and elders — have failed our children in a number of key areas, none more so than in the area of vigilance. And by this, I mean being alert and watchful as to what ideas and narratives — or as the Bible calls them, strange philosophies — that our children are being exposed to and taught; identifying them as lies and countering them through teaching and training in the Truth, otherwise known simply as discipleship.

One of the most effective strategies of the enemy has been the spiritual assault on our boys and men. Who would have thought just a few years ago, both inside and outside the church, that we would be completely at a loss as to what constitutes a man: what is masculinity? We thought it was self-evident. Had we been more aware of the gradual but insidious chipping away or deconstructing of gender identity and roles by the elites of our society, many strategically placed within our education systems, perhaps we would have been better able to counter the lies.


In my book Lost Boys, I laid out much of this attack in detail, and I continue to keep watch on that front. A recent discussion on American TV show Dr Phil exposed some revealing information in an episode titled “The Demise of Guys”, which explored how masculine manhood has been lost due to the increasing fatherlessness over the generations. Healthy masculinity has not been passed on to our boys.

Host Dr Phil McGraw spoke to a number of people, but of particular interest was guest Rollo Tomassi, a middle-aged man who authored the book series The Rationale Male. Tomassi has been interviewing and observing social trends and relations among young men and women for more than 20 years and commands a lot of respect from young men around the world.

He explained that in our culture we have come to the point where an entire generation of young men are being scorned and rejected simply for being males. Like many other observers of this trend including myself, Tomassi calls this generation of young men lost boys, a fatherless generation who have been ‘acculturated and socialised behind a screen.’

“We have a generation of what we call ‘lost boys’ right now who don’t have a father figure,” said Tomassi. “They don’t have any guidance, whether it’s masculinity or much else for that matter.”


He said the greatest problem with men is that they are purposeless and sedated by ‘pornography, online video games, alcohol or marijuana.’

“If in your life your escapisms are better than your life, then you’re going to dwell more on those escapisms. So, what do men do today? They are addicted to pornography and opioids. Anyone in this room on their phone can go get hardcore pornography anytime they want to.  So when you look at marijuana being legalised, if you look at the opioid epidemic right now, if you look at the way we sedate men today, that is the number one.”

Tomassi and Dr Phil reviewed the suicide rates of men in America, which are about three and a half to five times that of women depending on research sources. In Australia, the situation is similar, so this is also relevant to us. Tomassi explains why he believes men are killing themselves at these record rates:

“I interpret that as meaning that those are deaths of despair. We have a term for that right now. Men get zeroed out. They build up lives, they build up personalities. They build a life equity list. Just say they lose a job, they lose their wives, they lose out on something, and no one is there to tell them how to bounce back from that rejection, how to bounce back from that defeat, how to come back from being zeroed out, so they’re faced with two very real decisions: Rebuild yourself or delete yourself. And unfortunately, most men are deleting themselves right now.”


Dr Phil’s discussion panel debated what constitutes toxic masculinity, posing the question: Does this have anything to do with the mental health of men in a way that would cause such a suicide crisis? Could it be that because of toxic masculinity, men don’t have the close networks that women have and therefore do not reach out for help as readily? Tomassi describes this as a simplistic narrative.

“We constantly harp on the fact that men don’t have friends, they don’t have close friends, they don’t have the same networks that women do. And then we put the blame for their mental health back on them by saying it’s toxic masculinity, and if you guys were just more like women than you would reach out for therapy of some sorts.”

Tomassi said that from what he observes, the only time mainstream media celebrate masculinity is when men do something that is conventionally feminine like ‘The Rock wearing a tutu.’ However, when men do things conventionally masculine, this is not celebrated by mainstream media. And this is where I believe Tomassi hits the nail on the head. He believes that as a society we are trying to use “social constructionism as a primary way of socialising human beings.” Or simply, we are attempting to socialise men (and women) against their natural, innate inclinations.

Spiritual Warfare

Church, I repeat that we need to be looking very closely at these discussions and what is going on with our boys and men. Of course, we recognise that this attack is spiritual, and our fight is spiritual, but it also involves practical obedience to Scriptural instruction. We have been commanded to make disciples, and making disciples isn’t just a quick decision after an impassioned message. Discipleship is a committed training relationship that begins first in the home with parents teaching and training children. Fathers teaching their sons to be strong men, and mothers teaching their daughters to be strong women.

Since masculinity has been deconstructed (the horse has already bolted), the elites are attempting to reconstruct masculinity to look like a shadow of its former glory. In fact, society is trying to make masculinity into the image of conventional femininity. The world believes, as one of the other experts on Dr Phil’s panel stated, “We don’t have a positive view of masculinity that we are passing on.”

Hello, church! That’s something that we can offer!

As a counter, the church has an incredible opportunity in this state of confusion to present that positive view of masculinity. I’ve heard it said that we become like the god or God that we serve. If Christian men listened and followed God Almighty, our Great Commander who is the King of Righteousness, I believe it would shine such a beacon of hope to the world and it would draw men back, because what the world is offering men is mere kibble.

Yes, masculinity has been outlawed in the culture, but we must make it known that it hasn’t been outlawed in the Church, it is welcomed, nurtured and honoured.

Our challenge is to stop being like the world to win the world. Rediscover God’s design for masculinity; don’t take part in the feminising of our boys and men. Honour masculinity as the gift it is.

The church can provide the world with an incredible light as to what it means to be a man, because masculinity harnessed in virtue and truth is incredibly powerful.

The Lord proclaims:
Stop at the crossroads and look around;
ask for the ancient paths.
Where is the good way?
Then walk in it
and find a resting place for yourselves.
~ Jeremiah 6:16 (CEB)


Photo by Anna Shvets.

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Alice Springs Violence: Who Has the Answers?

We are living in an era where social breakdown and moral decay are drawing heavily on the state’s resources and collective wisdom. The elucidative bankruptcy of the state’s ‘wise men’ is being exposed, as surely as it was in the ancient empires of Egypt and Babylon.

The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant. ~ Genesis 41:8 

The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean.” ~ Daniel 2:10

Take the very broken town of Alice Springs, for example. Overnight reports of an axe attack on a teenager by three indigenous youth is just one violent incident among countless attacks occurring every day in Alice Springs. Our governments appear at a complete loss as to what to do. The ‘wise men’ have no answers.

Generational Trauma

Years ago, I closely followed the violence that erupted in Aurukun, Queensland when teachers were twice evacuated after children threatened the principal with knives and machetes. Seven years on, Aurukun still resembles a war zone. Recent reports reveal dwindling attendance at the school, the closure of essential services, a council without a CEO, and residents walking the streets with metal fence pickets and crossbows. Many locals are reluctant to leave their homes.

Many of the insights I gained, as I studied Aurukun’s widely discussed demise in 2016, apply to the collapse into chaos of Alice Springs. There is talk of rugby league identities coming to Alice Springs to help in some way. This reminds me of the goodwill demonstrated in 2016 by Australian rugby league player, Johnathan Thurston, when he used a post-State-of-Origin interview to encourage children in the embattled community of Aurukun. “There’s obviously been a lot of trouble up there,” he said, “so to all the students there, I just want you to believe in yourselves and keep turning up to school.” The following day, an Aurukun teacher reported that the children cheered when they heard Thurston reaching out to them.

And yet for all such gestures of goodwill by celebrities like Thurston, and for all the strategising by government agencies, I don’t think all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can put Alice Spring back together again, anymore than they could put Aurukun back together again. A certain wisdom is needed that transcends the most brilliant intellect of fallen men.

Exploitation and Alcoholism

Common to both the demise of Aurukun and the ruin of Alice Springs is the sidelining of the church and the introduction of alcohol. For Aurukun, the decade following the introduction of alcohol was the darkest decade in the history of the community. Herbert Yunkaporta, a pastor born and raised in Aurukun, laments, “I’ll tell you this: the community is asleep. When did they go to sleep? In the mid-eighties. This is a deep crisis. Aurukun needs help.” There must have been a cry of lament in Alice Springs by many Aboriginal elders when alcohol restrictions were removed six months ago.

Insights from the demise of Aurukun can help in understanding the lawlessness on display in Alice Springs. Aurukun’s history is a tragic story that begins with broken promises and broken dreams. It is a story of Goliath-like state and corporate interests outmuscling local and cultural leadership in a greedy grab for Aurukun’s vast bauxite reserves. It was Aurukun’s buried treasure that attracted mining leases and state administrators in the 1970s, followed by the imposition of a wet canteen in the 1980s. In the face of vehement objection by community elders, trucks laden with beer rolled into the town in 1985 and Aurukun took a nosedive.

Faith and Prosperity

It’s hard to imagine that, as recently as 1970, there was no hint of the misery that would engulf Aurukun. Professor Sutton describes his experience of Aurukun in the early 1970s:

Suicide was unknown. People who survived the rigours of infancy and early childhood had a good chance of living to their seventies…

Local men mustered cattle and ran the local butcher shop, logged and sawed the timber for house building, built the housing and other constructions, welded and fixed vehicles in the workshop, and worked in the vegetable gardens, under a minimal set of mission supervisors.

Women not wholly engaged in child-rearing worked in the general store, clothing store, school, hospital and post office.

(The Politics of Suffering, Melbourne University Press, 2010, p. 40)

This somewhat idyllic life, as described by Sutton, was the peaceful and industrious heritage left by the Presbyterian Church and the Archer River Mission Station. Despite being poorly funded, and notwithstanding its shortcomings, the mission station founded in 1904 is remembered for being supportive of Aboriginal rights and self-determination.

Aurukun sawmill circa 1950

Aurukun sawmill, circa 1950. State Library of Queensland.

Natasha Robinson reports that in 1975, the “progressive [Presbyterian] church was advocating land rights, bilingual education and a return to outstation life.” A Queensland Government report describes the mission superintendents from 1924 to 1965, Rev. Bill Mackenzie and his wife, as being “unusually liberal in their support for their continuation of Bora traditions, traditional hunting and the use of Wik languages.”

Without a doubt, the church played an essential role in laying the platform for the 1970s optimism and social cohesion that existed in Aurukun. There was hope and resourcefulness in the community, a healthy work ethic, a trustworthy moral compass, and emerging cultural leadership.

Secularism and Moral Decay

While it’s not popular to say these days, the church led the Aboriginal community well and was the chief supporter of Aurukun’s journey to self-determination. Tragically, the church would be sidelined as the lucre and liquor interests exploited Aurukun and sabotaged its promising future. This tragedy in Aurukun is not dissimilar to that facing Alice Springs.

There is a direct correlation between social breakdown and moral decay and the sidelining of the church. This is evident in Aurukun, Alice Springs, and indeed in towns and cities across Australia. The church is irreplaceable as both preserving agent and physician. Where the church is maligned and neutralised (as in the case of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon), the state finds itself ill-equipped to halt moral decay or heal society’s wounds.

Both ancient and modern history teach us that the silencing and imprisoning of the church is never in the interest of society. Hitler scorched Germany’s soul with his murderous agenda — something he could only achieve with the church rendered dormant. With the exception of lone prophetic voices, like Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, there was little moral resistance to Hitler. The removal of the church and its prophetic voice left Germany in great darkness.

Greg Sheridan describes the rise of a “new religion of aggressive secularism” that is filling a void in Australia that used to be occupied by the church. While this aggressive secularism is “more self-confident and fundamentalist than ever,” he astutely observes that the western church is nowhere to be seen or heard because, “widespread, prolonged affluence has been more effective than oppression ever was in killing religious belief and practice.”

I know where Sheridan is coming from. While we have not really known tribulation and persecution, the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches have been effective in choking out the potent Word of God and rendering the western church unfruitful.

Losing Our Savour

Jesus warned about the church losing relevance. He warned that if the salt loses its saltiness, and its preservation qualities are squandered; it is good for nothing except road base (Matthew 5:13). He taught that lamps that no longer provide light must be removed (Revelation 2:5). The western church would do well to heed these warnings and strengthen the things that remain.

In many ways, we have failed in our responsibility to be salt and light in the world. Many young people in the western church have been short-changed. Rather than energising them and capturing their hearts with a truly noble cause to die for, church leaders have fed them entertainment and the merits of upward social mobility.

The church always thrives when it believes and embraces its true mission statement, as taught by Christ himself. “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” Self-denial, humility, and servanthood may have never been attractive, worldly ideals but these qualities underpin a satisfying and meaningful life and they give the church relevance.

The church, when true to form, has the power to provide young people with vision and intrinsic motivation for living a purposeful and selfless life. This is what Aurukun had, I believe. And this is what Aurukun and Alice Springs and Australia need today. This is what worked for David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, when he spent himself for New York’s bloodthirsty gangs in the late 1950s.

The church is the remedy to society’s ills. It is the preserving agent against moral decay and social breakdown. It is the steward of the Balm of Gilead that alone can heal the most broken lives. I remain a believer in the power of the Gospel message and what it can achieve when lived out. However, the western church has dropped the ball and we have work to do. And it is in our current, seemingly ‘irrelevant’ condition that we must once again prove our worth.

Ironically, the church is facing a fight for its existence at a time when our nation needs us the most. As a pastor and man of God, Herbert Yunkaporta knows the answer for Aurukun and troubled communities like Alice Springs.

“Aurukun needs to be awakened. When we throw a rock in the water, where does the ripple effect begin? From the inside out. We want to make a ripple effect in each and every individual man and young man, by helping them to restore what was lost.”

The hope for mankind and for our communities truly is a change in the human heart; a transformation of the human condition. And only the living organism, that is the church, can offer that miraculous remedy.

It is through the power of the Gospel that broken men and women receive true cleansing, a new heart, and the energising presence of the Creator Himself. It is in the God-breathed Scriptures that we find the blueprint for peaceful and productive societies. Australia boasts natural resources and underground treasure that are the envy of the world.

And yet it will be the rediscovery of the treasure in our people that will lead to the freedom and triumph of troubled towns like Aurukun and Alice Springs. Exploration companies and mining interests cannot help here. The state must ask for the church’s help. The church alone is the steward of the Gospel, wherein is the power to transform men and women “from the inside out.”

Reginald Arthur, Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream (1893-1894)

Reginald Arthur, Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream (1893-1894)

And Pharaoh said to his servants,
“Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph,
“Since God has shown you all this,
there is none so discerning and wise as you are.”
~ Genesis 41:38-39


Photo by Ketut Subiyanto.

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Study Claims Abortion Restrictions Are Linked To Suicide — But Ignores Crucial Data Showing Otherwise

Study Claims Abortion Restrictions Are Linked To Suicide — But Ignores Crucial Data Showing Otherwise

The authors ignore a huge share of the data, the data they have is biased, and they fail to control for obvious state-level confounders.

A study claiming abortion restrictions probably cause suicide is extremely flawed.

At the end of the year, JAMA Psychiatry released a study claiming abortion restrictions probably cause suicide. While many academic papers go unread or uncited behind paywalls, this paper was immediately promoted by various media outlets including The Guardian, NBC News, and The Hill.

The study’s results were politically relevant — the authors claimed abortion restrictions raised suicide rates of young women by more than 5 percent. The authors were affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine, and JAMA Psychiatry is one of the world’s most influential psychiatry journals. If relatively weak restrictions from the Roe v. Wade era could cause suicide among young women to rise, how much more would suicide spike as some states imposed actual abortion bans following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization?

But the paper is extremely flawed. The authors lack the majority of the data they should have, data the authors claim is unavailable from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in fact available, the pattern of missing data leads to a biased overestimate of suicide rates, and the use of statistical controls was poor.

Drawing Conclusions After Throwing Out Half the Data

The authors’ basic strategy was to look at the suicide rates of young women by state and year and compare them to abortion restrictions across states and years. They find that the presence of laws that impose regulatory burdens on abortion providers is associated with a 5 percent higher suicide rate for young women for the period 1976-2016. They show a similar increase in suicide rates using a weighted index of abortion policy for the period 2006-2017. Because the authors find no relationship between abortion restrictions and suicide among older women nor with motor vehicle deaths, they reason it’s likely that restricting abortion increases suicide among young women who might wish to receive one.

The authors report that a majority of the data they wanted to use in their analysis was missing. The results the authors display in Table 1 in their paper are based upon data from 50 states for 1976-2016. If all the data was available, there would be 2,050 different observations or data points on suicide rates for women ages 20-34 over a year per state. The authors have 1,022 observations. That is about half the relevant observations.

Observations are not randomly missing from collected data. In the online supplemental materials, you can see the suicide rate data these authors have by state and year. Here are the missing observations by year.

Author’s calculations using Table 3 from study’s supplemental material compared to CDC’s Wonder database.

Why does data availability plummet? Because, for years after 1989, the CDC suppresses “[s]ub—national statistics representing fewer than ten persons” for privacy reasons.

When the number of suicides for young women in a given state in a year are low, the data is suppressed. When suicides and suicide rates are lower, they are more likely to be missing from the data. All of these low suicide rates are dropped, so conclusions about suicide rates will overstate the real suicide rate.

Anti-abortion laws become more common over time as available data declines, so the authors are disproportionately overstating suicide rates for years with restrictive abortion laws.

Consider Missouri. The authors record Missouri as first enforcing a restrictive abortion law in 1988. Before 1988, the authors have data on Missouri for every year. After 1988, they are missing data for more than half the years their study covers. This overstates suicide rates in Missouri for years in which Missouri had restrictive abortion laws.

Missing Data Can Be Found

But the data for many of these years is not actually missing. I easily obtained them from CDC WONDER, the government database the authors said they used. They claim to only have data for Alabama for two years between 1999 and 2016, yet the CDC provides data on suicide rates for Alabama for all years 1999-2016.

When contacted about the discrepancy, lead author Jonathan Zandberg replied that the researchers first obtained suicide rates for women between 20-24 and then for women between 25-34. If data was missing for either group due to the number of suicides being too low, they threw the whole observation out. This reduces the amount of data available and biases suicide rate measures upwards. Look at this table below, which shows average suicide rates between 1999 and 2016 using the authors’ data versus all data actually available from the CDC and demonstrates their estimates are too high. The more missing observations, the worse the bias. Take the following states, where the authors wildly understate the available data.

The authors are claiming that there is an expected 5 percent increase in suicide rates in states that have restrictive abortion laws. But the upward bias in their recorded suicide rates for some states is multiple times the estimated effect of abortion restrictions on suicide rates. This data cannot demonstrate that abortion restrictions are associated with suicide increases because the bias in their data is so extreme.

Because the authors throw out so much data, there are many states for which the authors literally have no data after 1989, even though such data is available! The study’s authors did not respond to questions about the biased data leading to overstated suicide rates, although they did respond to questions about why so much data was missing. The co-author, Ran Barzilay noted that all studies have limitations. The lead author, Zandberg, quoted the original article’s admission that “we relied on data on annual suicide rates released by the CDC. Accordingly, some data were not available, which could have led to an ascertainment bias.”

Acknowledging the risk of bias does not address the obvious and substantial bias. The data availability was also much less limited than the authors claim.

The missing data and biased data are not the only problems.

Bad Controls for Political Environment

Beyond examining whether there is a link between specific anti-abortion laws and suicide rates, the authors also examine whether there is a relationship between an index of abortion restrictions from 2006-2017 and suicide rates. This approach also suffers from similar data issues — most of the data is missing in a way that exaggerates suicide rates.

Another issue is their approach to controlling for political differences among states. Since conservative states are more likely to restrict abortion, other factors associated with conservative politics could be responsible for the apparent relationship between suicide and abortion restrictions. White Americans are more Republican than average and more suicidal than average. The authors do not control for the percent of the state population that is white, although they do control for the share of the population that is black. (For statistical reasons, it is a bad idea to try to control for every racial/ethnic category simultaneously.)

They try to control for the political environment of different states, but they do so incorrectly. They controlled “for the annual fraction of Republican senators representing the state at the US Senate.” U.S. senators don’t write or enforce state laws. Even as a crude proxy for overall state politics, this approach is bad and would amount to claiming California and Georgia have the same politics because they both lack Republican senators. Likewise, a southern state having two Democratic senators in 1976 implies different politics from a Midwestern state with Democratic senators today.

The authors ignore a huge share of the data. The data they have is biased. The overestimation of suicide rates occurs in years after 1989. Abortion laws were generally stricter after 1989 and more liberal in the immediate period following Roe v. Wade. Suicide rates are most exaggerated in years when abortion restrictions are more common. They fail to control for obvious state-level confounders.

Trustworthy Medical Journals Would Be Valuable

Abortion restrictions may affect suicide rates, but the JAMA Psychiatry paper should convince no one. In fact, the paper should be retracted.

If we have learned anything from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is that it’s valuable when scientific institutions provide balanced and accurate information on issues of public health — even when issues are politically charged. I hope JAMA Psychiatry does better.



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