Spending a day shopping can be an excruciating exercise in decisions and reflections on what I can and can’t afford. Lots of friends find shopping relaxing and fun. Others go way overboard and buy things they know they’ll have to return. Some are very methodical with lists–they never forget their cloth bags at the grocery store. At times you may fit into any or all of the above groups. My point is there is no universal reaction to the common female experience of shopping.
So how can mental health professionals say that 55 million abortions have left women with a uniform emotional reaction? And how could abortion possibly be a uniquely positive event in every woman’s emotional and spiritual life?
By taking such a bizarre stand, the mental health community protests too much. For example, this report on a story from the Journal of Psychiatric Research (JPR) concludes that research in 2009 finding emotional trouble after abortion is “false”. There was no qualifier attached to the dismissal of the evidence–the official position is that there is a unilateral response to abortion from women which is devoid of emotional problems. Hence, as Mercator reports, no evidence of the detrimental impact on abortion will be presented at an upcoming international conference:
“In July of this year, there will be an international congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Liverpool. The abortion and mental health presentations will be given by Ian Jones, Rock Cantwell and Trine Munk-Olsen. Professors Fergusson and Coleman will not be presenting. Given that there is good evidence to show that some women are hurt by abortion, it is surprising that there will be such a one-sided presentation that aims to influence psychiatrists from many countries.”
The helping profession has painted itself into a corner. In 2008 the American Psychological Association essentially blamed women for their mental health problems following abortion:
“The task force found that some studies indicate that some women do experience sadness, grief and feelings of loss following an abortion, and some may experience “clinically significant disorders, including depression and anxiety.” However, the task force found “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”
You see? If a woman is depressed or anxious after abortion, it’s because . . . she’s depressed or anxious.
A simple search of the JPR archive turns up this 1997 review of a book on Counselling for Loss by Verena Tschudin, RGN, RM, DipCouns, BSc(Hons), MA, Editor, Nursing Ethics; Lecturer/Tutor in Nursing Ethics, University of Surrey, UK:
This practical, readable book uses a “Four Questions Model” and scenarios to illustrate the appropriate counselling for a variety of situations. Includes coverage of loss of a life partner, loss of a parent, loss of a child, abortion and miscarriage, [emphasis added] infertility, loss of health, divorce and separation, loss of a career, loss of a home, loss of a pet, loss of youth and independence, loss of beliefs and values, and more. Written by a highly acclaimed author, the book includes complete references and suggestions for further reading.”
Maybe the APA members and JPR editors and those attending the upcoming conference should look beyond the research they have rejected out of hand and employ the common sense needed to see that abortion can be at least as painful to a woman as pet loss or lost youth.
The millions of women in need of help deserve at least that much instead of the double bind of blaming them for their distress.