For decades, pro-life advocates have argued that abortion hurts women, and abortion advocates have claimed that women feel only relief after an abortion. To the abortion industry, any woman who does suffer emotionally after an abortion was already struggling with her mental health prior to that abortion. They cite studies with major methodological flaws in failed attempts to prove their claims.
Sometimes, however, pro-choice activists admit that abortion is actually an emotionally painful experience. In a podcast with notorious abortionist Dr. Leah Torres, pro-choice activist Amanda Palmer spoke about how abortion can involve emotional turmoil. She said:
Some abortions involve real grief. Some of them don’t …. [W]e don’t have rituals for abortion. Our culture just erases it. I love [to] imagine a world where going through an abortion, going through a miscarriage, is acceptable, understandable. Workplaces and the community around you make space for it. You don’t just have to hide, and clock in the next morning at 8, and pretend that nothing happened. Which we all know just leads to a not gone effect of suffering that ricochets into the entire universe and hurts everybody.
Palmer has had three abortions herself, as well as a miscarriage. While she admits to mourning the baby she lost to miscarriage, she expresses no regret about her abortions.
Abortionist Bruce Steir spent time in jail for manslaughter after a botched abortion killed Sharon Hampton. He allegedly pulled out bowel then stuffed it back into her body and sent her home to bleed to death. In his memoir, Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN, he wrote:
Perhaps it is important to acknowledge that the mother and child have already been bonding during the entire pregnancy, and that the entire birthing experience is set up at the scientific level by nature to ensure that the mother does not abandon her child. Nothing can change this fact or mitigate the pain and tremendous sense of loss of having one’s child ripped from them… It is odd to be pro-choice and to recognize the rights of a woman to not keep her child, and yet simultaneously recognize that human biology and human emotions perceive this as a loss, whether the woman is sensitive or callous to the fact.1
Joanna Brien and Ida Fairbairn penned a textbook intended to train abortion workers called Pregnancy and Abortion Counseling. They wrote:
The opposing argument originally put forward by feminists tried to minimize the emotional effect of termination on women. This appeared vital during the struggle for abortion as any discussion of ambivalent feelings or possible harmful effects could, they thought, have weakened their cause. Now that the law is in place and safer from attack, pro-choice supporters can afford to look at some of the emotional costs to women themselves…
[M]ost studies identify a variably sized group of women who do seem to experience significant psychological sequelae which are not always short-lived.2
Pro-choice women sometimes do express their post-abortion grief, including Helen Susan Edelman. She had an abortion because she was having problems in her marriage. She wanted the baby, but her husband insisted she abort. Before the abortion, she had conflicting feelings. In “Safe to Talk: Abortion Narratives as a Rite of Return” in the Journal of American Culture (Winter 1996), Edelman wrote:
Once I was committed to having an abortion, I almost couldn’t stand knowing that the baby was growing inside me…
My sister’s wedding was the day before the abortion – in Colorado. I flew out there … knowing I was having an abortion on Monday morning. I refused to go through the security gate at the airport because I was pregnant. Despite my plan for an abortion 72 hours later, I was protecting my baby.3
After the abortion, she suffered grief and loss. It finished off her marriage. She continued:
I stayed home for two days in bed. Physically, I was fine… I knew it was the end of the marriage … I stopped having sex with my husband, became actually repulsed at the sight of him naked, moved into the guest room. I had an affair…
My husband and I hardly talked about the abortion; it certainly didn’t come up when we named our reasons for considering divorce.4
On the day that would’ve been her baby’s birthday, Edelman brought home a puppy. She didn’t realize the connection until later. She also felt compelled to start seeing a psychiatrist but did not tell him about her abortion “for a long time.” She said:
It would be fair to say I mourned my aborted baby, not in an immediate outburst of grieving, but in a long, slow process of unraveling and rebuilding, understanding my choice…5
She married again but that marriage fell apart as well. She remains pro-abortion.
Edelman came to believe her child was a baby and not mere tissue. Her experience, as well as that of thousands of other women, confirms that abortion causes women to suffer emotional trauma that increases their risk of depression, drug and alcohol use, and suicidal thoughts.
- Bruce Steir Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN (AuthorHouse, 2008) 34
- Joanna Brien, Ida Fairbairn Pregnancy and Abortion Counseling (London: Routledge, 1996) 141, 142
- Helen Susan Edelman “Safe to Talk: Abortion Narratives as a Rite of Return” Journal of American Culture Winter 1996
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