Mother’s abortion used as evidence in child custody case

A nasty custody battle in New York City took a shocking turn when Acting Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler allowed the ex-husband, Manuel John Mehos, and his lawyer, Eleanor Alter, to use his ex-wife Lisa Mehos’s recent abortion against her.

The judge’s decision outraged Mrs. Mehos’s lawyer, Emily Jane Goodman, and abortion rights activists as well, even prompting some to show up in court sporting “I had an abortion” t-shirts in support of Mrs. Mehos. As reported by the New York Daily News, Goodman said in court:

I think the very idea of the potential of using, against a woman in a custody case, the fact that she may have had an abortion sets women’s rights and the rights of choice back in a way that I can’t imagine this court would want to be associated.

Sounds threatening, especially since just this week the Kansas Supreme Court suspended the law license of former state Attorney General Phill Kline for ethics violations in his investigation of abortion clinics from 2003-2008. Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, has called it a vendetta against Kline for “daring to uphold Kansas abortion and child sex abuse laws.” In other words, don’t say anything negative in court about the abortion business.

But it turns out that Alter may have a point in saying that the abortion and the circumstances surrounding it could make Mrs. Mehos an unfit parent, at least for the time being. She told the court that it is likely that the abortion caused Mrs. Mehos stress – stress that would make it difficult for her to be a focused parent. Alter said the abortion likely caused stress to the children as well, since they were in Mrs. Mehos’s care at the time it occurred.

While many pro-abortion groups claim that post-abortive stress syndrome (PASS) doesn’t exist, a 2010 study by the Journal of Social Sciences calls post-abortion syndrome an emerging public health concern. The study found the condition to be a type of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the basic components of uncontrolled negative re-experiencing of an event (the abortion), unsuccessful attempts to avoid painful recollections of the event resulting in reduced responsiveness, and experiencing feelings of guilt not felt before the abortion.

In addition, a 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that post-abortive women have a 61% increased risk of mood disorders, along with a 261% increased risk of alcohol misuse, a 313% increased risk of mood disorders, and a 59% increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

One post-abortive mother, Jill Marquis, who is also a leader for the post-abortive women’s healing ministry Surrendering the Secret, says that her abortion caused her to distance herself from her children. Marquis says that she had a fear that God would retaliate against her for her abortion by harming one of her other children. This caused her to disengage with her children and prevented her from being a true presence in their lives.

Could Mrs. Mehos distance herself from her children because of her abortion? She could. But while these statistics could easily be used against her, the loss of custody of her two children may also work to exasperate any level of post-abortive syndrome that she very well might be living with. Her abortion shouldn’t be grounds for her to lose custody, but instead to seek help for any emotional turmoil she may be facing as a result of the abortion.

This is especially true in light of the fact that Mr. Mehos has some unpleasant findings in his past that could be used as evidence against his ability to be a good parent. These include claims by Mrs. Mehos of his numerous affairs with prostitutes while they were married, in addition to charges of battery filed against him by Mrs. Mehos. The charges were eventually dropped, but the claim was that Mr. Mehos hit Mrs. Mehos in front of their children.

Judge Sattler’s decision to allow the abortion to be used in court means that abortion, even in New York City, where 41% of babies are terminated, is still viewed by many as negative. This is a good thing for the right to life. However, post-abortive women should be treated with compassion, not hard-heartedness and hopefully the court will choose the home which is best-suited for the children according to all of the evidence presented.

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