She sat across from me, tears streaming down her face. The subject of abortion came up and this woman struggled to discuss it. ‘Emotionally damaging’ was the phrase she used to describe the procedure.
She thought about her child. She wondered how old he or she may be. As she reflected on her past she wrestled with feelings of regret. She admitted to choosing abortion without knowing all of the facts. She felt rushed into the decision, wishing now that she would have gathered more information before she decided.
This woman’s story is all too common. In the decade I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement I’ve heard similar tales. I met a woman who was so affected by her abortion that she couldn’t talk about it for 20 years.
Another lady shared a chilling story of using the RU-486 pill and the absolute horror she faced witnessing her unborn baby pass. I remember the African-American woman who pulled me aside and whispered her confession. The pain of her choice etched upon her face.
Susanne Babbel is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has a P.H.D in Psychology. She is also a psychotherapist with an emphasis on trauma and depression. In an article for ‘Psychology Today’ titled, ‘Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) – Does It Exist?’ she writes: ‘No matter your philosophical, religious, or political views on abortion, the fact of the matter is, the actual experience can affect women not only on a personal level but can potentially have psychological repercussions.’
Babbel refers to this as Post Abortion Stress Syndrome. (PASS) is based on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). It’s the name given to the psychological aftereffects of abortion. Babbel notes that the disorder is real, although the term has not been recognized by the American Psychological Association. Sadly those who support abortion often refuse to acknowledge that long term negative effects that it can bring to many women. The National Abortion Federation calls (PASS) a ‘myth‘ and the popular liberal Ms.Magazine says it’s a ‘bogus affliction invented by the religious right’.
However Babbel asserts “any event that causes trauma can indeed result in PTSD, and abortion is no exception.” Babbel is not declaring this because she’s a pro-life therapist. She further states, ‘Believing that PASS exists does not mean that one does not believe in a woman’s right to choose; it simply means that one believes in supportive and constructive counseling around the trauma symptoms’. Babbel lists ‘guilt, anxiety, numbness, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal thoughts as symptoms of PASS.
Babbel makes no claim that these symptoms will follow after every abortion. She writes: While abortion can induce post-traumatic stress in some, others will suffer no repercussions at all. I can understand that statement.
I personally believe there is a undeniable, emotional, physical, and even spiritual connection between a mother and a child. However, I’ve met a number of post-abortive women who have a range of experiences. I don’t oppose abortion solely because I believe it will cause trauma to a woman’s soul. I oppose abortion because it’s morally wrong to destroy the life of a fetus. Some women will make that destructive decision with little sorrow, regret, or negative emotional consequences.
We live in a society that views abortion as a private decision which women need not regret. Therefore women with seemingly ‘positive’ abortion experiences are often encouraged to share them with pride. However women with negative experiences find themselves in a difficult place. They suffer from the pain of their abortion, all the while living in a society that tells them that pain isn’t real or necessary.
Thankfully organizations like Rachel’s Vineyard and groups like Silent No More are here for that very reason. They are safe places for women who need healing after their abortion. If you or anyone you know has suffered emotional or physical pain from an abortion, there is help available to you. You are not alone. You don’t have to carry the secret or live in shame. Check out resources like Afterabortion.org and take a step towards freedom.