an After abortion

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Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Canadian Medical Association published two additional--and very different--letters today in response to their May 13 article relating abortion to increased risks of psychiatric hospitalization.

One letter is by Celia Ryan, a grief counselor. Scroll down if you click through to the link. The text of both letters appears below.

Ryan's letter:

In response to the article "Psychiatric admissions of low-income women following abortion and childbirth" and the reactions from Brenda Major and others, I would like to offer a personal glimpse into the aftermath of an abortion experience for some women and men.

I have run a post abortion support group for eight years now, ever since I realized that abortion is a classic disenfranchised grief in our society and there is little or no support, validation or healing for the experience that, for some men and women, is incredibly traumatic and destructive.

I am not a researcher, and the hurting men and women who come to my office for counseling, or to my groups, are not interested in statistics or expectable outcomes. They are interested in having a language, structure and a framework for their abortion experience and an opportunity to use that information in a helfpul and healing way. They are grateful and relieved to finally be able to name and explore an issue that society says does not exist. They are no longer disenfranchised from their appropriate grief.

Any change can bring loss and loss is often accompanied by grief - to deny that something has changed is to deny reality. How that reality is experienced is obviously affected by numerous factors but in no other area of a person's life does society so totally deny an individual's reported experience. As a clinical social worker and specialised grief therapist I can try to set aside my own politics and judgments to offer my understanding of traumatic grief to a hurting persons so they can begin to understand that they have had a life-changing experience and to find a way to accomodate this which does not disable or destroy them. Denial disables, validation empowers; until society is able to recognize and validate the hurt and pain of an abortion experience, for some people, we will disenfranchise them and we will all have to accomodate the "walking wounded".

The second letter is written by Steen Goddik, an MD going through a residency in South Dakota.

Goddik's letter:

Dear Editors,

I have noted that once again, Reardon's polical manifestos are published as research. To claim any significance to strict correlation with absolutely no attention to confounding factors is utterly useless for the medical profession. Correlation can be shown between almost any two subjects, regardless of causation is meaningless and is a disservice to physicians.

And notable, the article claim no competing interests. For an author, whose purpose in publishing is to further his religious/political fight against abortion rights, this is an outrageous claim, and I am saddened to note that the CMAJ editors were not paying attention. This merely results in CMAJ loosing credibility, becoming a mouthpiece for the vocigerous, but but fact-poor anti-abortion movement.

Steen Goddik, MD.

[Errors as they appear in the original.]

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