an After abortion: 05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003

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Friday, May 23, 2003

Coerced abortions in the Church of Scientology.

Sometimes boyfriends push for an abortion. Sometimes parents do--sometimes coaches, sometimes bosses. And here we have a federally tax-exempt 501(c)3 religious organization pushing for abortions:

"Children were forbidden at International, so these young women were forced to have abortions in order to remain there. I know several former Commodore’s Messengers who are no longer in Scientology specifically because they were unwilling to have any more abortions. Some of them now have lovely children; others less fortunate are unable to have children because of the damage they suffered from repeated abortions."

"Approximately 1½ years before I left, a new rule came out stating that if you got pregnant, you had to either get an abortion, which was heavily pushed, or leave. The rule had previously been that if you got pregnant, you had to get an abortion or be sent to a small and failing lower organization where you had to fend for yourself and your baby. I personally knew of three other girls who got pregnant and were convinced to get abortions. One was my sister-in-law who was 16 weeks pregnant when she was convinced to abort her child although she was strongly against it."

Melanie’s very strong advice and pressure was to abort the baby.

"She had gone on to say that at this point in my life it is better to do the greatest good for all.

She went on to tell me that the spirit doesn’t enter the baby’s body until the baby is born. She made the point that all I would be “killing” is a piece of meat essentially. We discussed this for a couple of days and she showed me definitions in the L. Ron Hubbard Technical Dictionary to persuade me to have an ABORTION.

I detached myself completely from the responsibility that I was about to kill a living human being so I could be on staff and do scientology."

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Thursday, May 22, 2003

More letters to the Canadian Medical Association.

One letter is from Annie Banno of Silent No More:

"Do you perhaps mean the former Surgeon General C. Everett Coop, who supposedly denied the existence of post-abortion trauma? His report was made almost 20 years ago and the findings were inconclusive, precisely because -- as he himself pointed out -- not enough studies had been done. He did not actually deny Post Abortive Stress.

If you reread his actual report, this will be obvious. It was, however, not reported faithfully in the general press. It is certainly time to conduct all of these overdue studies.

It is well-known that the process by which the APA adds a diagnosis to the body of disorders is exceedingly lengthy, and when it is politicized, no one wants to touch it at the APA. However, the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III-R)[25] does officially list abortion as a life event which **can produce** PTSD.

Koop's and the APA's reports both admitted that most of the research they used to reach their "findings" was flawed scientifically.

Even a study Brenda Major did almost three years ago found that as time passed the women surveyed had an increased dissatisfaction with their abortion decision, and an increase in negative emotions.

Please, for the sake of all women everywhere, do not trot out the same trite and inaccurately reported "facts" from the APA and from Koop, any longer. Women are suffering daily and for decades because of this kind of political denial of reality."

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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

My regular readers have perhaps tired of hearing about the article in last week's CMAJ that indicated that women who terminate pregnancies are 2.6 times more likely to require psychiatric hospitalization than are women who carry to term.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal--the CMAJ--publishes e-letters in response to its articles. Several such e-letters have now been published about the psychiatric-hospitalization-after-abortion article.

Here are two of the letters.

One of them, written by a medical student at UC-Davis, says:

"The article was not properly peer-reviewed, because the CMAJ should have checked Reardon's background and the politics of all the authors."

Uh-huh. Medical journals are supposed to give political litmus tests to authors.

And here's a third letter.

This letter was written by an adult--a member of the psychiatric department at the University of Toronto.

"We already know that women who are mentally ill, under stress and without supports will comprise the group who would most need an abortion because they would not be able to cope with a pregnancy or having a chil but will also have the most difficulty coping with an abortion. The fact that the most common diagnosis for those admitted was a psychotic depression strongly suggests that some of these women had a previous history of mental illness. To relate any admission over the next four years to the abortion without no any other variables is totally incorrect science."

This letter-writer admits that some women will have difficulty coping with an abortion. But without no any other variables, she somehow knows that these very same women would also not have been able to cope with a pregnancy. I think that is, like, totally incorrect science.

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Another article about Fr. Zimmer's 4,000-mile bike ride for Project Rachel.

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Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard. In the June/July 2003 issue of First Things, she writes in "The Women of Roe v. Wade" (not online) that:

"Many women have understood all along that Roe v. Wade would not, as Friedan once predicted, 'make women whole'. For the past thirty years, all three leading polling organizations have consistently told us that a large majority of Americans, women een more than men, disapprove of the majority of abortions that are performed in this country...The strongest supporters of abortion rights in the United States, as any nineteenth-century feminist could have predicted, are not women--but men in the age group of eighteen to twenty-five. Nevertheless, the most pro-life part of the population is people under thirty.

Why, then, a curious person might ask, has that widely shared sentiment not tempered the extremism of American abortion law? In part it's probably because the Supreme Court has left so little room for expression of popular will through legislation. In part it's probably because so much confusion exists about what the law really says. But there may be other, deeper reasons. With almost a million-and-a-half abortions a year for thirty years, we have become a society where nearly everyone has been touched by abortion, if not personally, then through friends and family members. When we speak about abortion today, we are speaking to women who have had abortions; to men who have asked women to have abortions; to young people who have lost brothers and sisters to abortion; and to the mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors of those women and men. That knowledge often leaves us tongue-tied, at a loss for words, for what to say and how to say it."

Prof. Glendon is right that nearly everyone has been touched by abortion. She is right that this knowledge often leaves us tongue-tied.

She implies that this occurs because we don't want to offer a general moral judgment when that judgment applies to a relative or friend; someone whose table we share from time to time (maybe every night), watch football with--someone whose company we often enjoy and someone we may admire in other respects.

Is that really why our tongues are tied within our circle of family and friends? It is surely part of the answer. But over and above that, people hesitate to make moral pronouncements about abortion because they may also feel responsible for abortions that occurred. There's an ill-defined guilt that many people feel around this subject...they wonder if they could have, should have, done more to be part of a family that made it possible for those kids to be welcomed.

You wouldn't want to go to your cousin and say, "Hey, remember that abortion you got in college? How ya doing with that?" Perhaps she would welcome this expression of concern, or perhaps she would view the question as an insensitive affront, either because it brings up unpleasant memories or vaguely implies that she ought to feel bad.

It's a bind.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Radio interview from Australia's ABC Radio National with Dr. Leslie Cannold, a Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne.

Dr. Cannold, a former student of Peter Singer, is concerned about a new strategy that she believes is being adopted by anti-abortionists. She calls this strategy the "Women Centred Post Abortion strategy". The point of this strategy is to make abortion less attractive by claiming that it harms not just the fetus, but also the woman. Huh.

Cannold says:

"I am convinced that the claims Women Centred Post Abortion strategy makes about the harm abortion causes women are false, but will leave to capable others the provision of necessary proof. My point here is to raise public awareness that the strategy exists and was designed by anti-choice advocates for the specific purpose of discouraging women from choosing abortion, and convincing the public of the paternalistic proposition that – for the sake of women – access to abortion must be curtailed."

The prolife movement didn't wake up one morning and say, "Face it. No one cares about the babies so let's make up a myth about how abortion hurts women." They slowly got that idea from post-abortive women who gradually worked up the nerve to talk about it.

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The Canadian press continues to burble over a study published last week in the CMAJ linking abortion to increased rates of psychiatric hospitalization.

I have pulled together a selection of letters-to-the-editor about the study for your reading enjoyment. In Tell women dirty secrets about abortion, Mary-Lynn McPherson, National coordinator of Canadian Nurses for Life, mentions several times that abortion involves killing your own child and then urges that women who have done that seek nonjudgmental counseling from prolife groups. I don't suppose her phone will be ringing off the hook.

Here's another letter, and here we have a letter to the editor from a pro-choice man questioning the ability of pro-life groups to offer non-judgmental counseling.

Off that subject, Bias in abortion study is a two-way street correctly points out the journalistic lapse involved in identifying the political views of the study's authors but ignoring the political views of the study's critics.

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Amy Welborn at In Between Naps has a very interesting discussion of last night's abortion subplot on HBO's Six Feet Under. Permalinks aren't in order, so you may have to scroll to find her story.

Amy writes:

"So...for me, at least, the connection was darkly transparent, even if it was unintentional...serial killer storyline juxtaposed with an assembly-line abortuary scene...a missing, presumed dead figure not appreciated by her husband until she was gone telling him, 'I'm not a chance, I'm a person.'"

Here's a link to the reflections of the screenwriter for this particular episode of Six Feet Under, who evidently got his start writing Deep Thoughts for SNL.

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Jesuit to raise funds for Project Rachel

Fr. Zimmer will ride his bike from Seattle to D.C. this summer to draw attention to and raise funds for post-abortion training programs.

"'In my course work and in hearing a lot of confessions, I've become very much aware of post-abortion issues,' said Father Zimmer, who also does pastoral work at Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale, Va."

The article I linked to above, from Catholic News Service, says that 110 Catholic dioceses now sponsor a Project Rachel outreach. Project Rachel was founded in 1984. I do wonder why the remaining 70-some dioceses haven't organized a Project Rachel outreach yet.

Link courtesy of Amy Welborn--note that blogger's permalinks are not working again this week.

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Trauma and memory

Richard McNally's new book, Remembering Trauma gets a very positive review by Sally Satel in the current edition of The New Republic.

I haven't read Remembering Trauma yet. Judging from Satel's review, both McNally and Satel conflate two questions: Are recovered memories of childhood abuse reliable? When therapists and clients claim that certain psychological symptoms are the result of a traumatic episode, are those claims overblown?

Satel is not friendly to trauma psychology in general, including the claims of Vietnam vets and natural disaster victims. I have nothing to add to a discussion about whether recovered abuse memories are reliable. McNally argues that we should be very suspicious about recovered memories, and he may be entirely correct. But this point doesn't justify Satel's blustery condescension toward trauma victims, many of whom have never forgotten the life event that led to their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

One of the reviewers of McNally's book at Amazon writes in part:

"In the 80's, when some of the books he cites so contemptuously, were written, survivors of trauma and their therapists were fighting to be heard. Denial of trauma was universal. PTSD had just been re-recognized in 1980. Gross Stress Reaction was the DSMI (1952) diagnosis, but that dissappeared in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II, which came out in 1968. He's so evenhanded, he doesn't even mention that, nor that psychiatrists were trained to disbelieve allegations of sexual abuse and to think the child wanted it. Kids want attention, love and affection, not sex... Vietnam vets were being told that war hadn't messed them up, although in 1965 Archibald and Tuddenham had published a study about how WWII had messed up those vets. Battered wives supposedly liked it or they wouldn't go back... Only weaklings were affected by trauma."

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Medpundit Sydney Smith picks up on last week's article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that shows increased rates of psychiatric hospitalization for women who terminate pregnancies versus those who carry to term.

The Medpundit notes that the study doesn't get to the root of why women who abort would be 2.6 times as likely to require acute psychiatric care. Is it the abortion? Is it the lack of social support in their life that led to the abortion?

She writes:

"That’s a study I’d like to see - a survey of abortion clinic clients asking whether or not the abortion was their idea, or their boyfriend’s or parents’. That would tell us something about the state of abortion in this country - and the amount of personal choice involved in it."

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Monday, May 19, 2003

After healing

There are a number of programs for people who are experiencing distress after abortion. A friend has directed me to a resource that has been created for women who have already attended a retreat or a support group and who have lingering shame issues. She highly recommends it.

In the Garden of the New Creation is available here.

Shame can be hard to overcome. A really shame-ridden person will even find it painful to have this pointed out to them. If a therapist says, "It sounds like you are carrying a lot of shame," she is likely to hear that as "There's something really wrong with you; you are broken", when what the therapist means is "You see yourself as fundamentally flawed and damaged but you're not and we can overcome that together."

The front page of In the Garden of the New Creation has this quote from Song of Songs. People who can't imagine feeling this way about themselves can benefit enormously from self-help books like this one and from therapy.

"You are an enclosed garden,
My sister, my bride,
An enclosed garden, a fountain sealed.

You are a paradise that puts forth pomegranates,
With all the fruits of the orchard,
Nard and saffron, calumus and cinnamon,
with trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
and all the finest perfumes.

You are a garden fountain,
a well of living water,
flowing fresh from Lebanon.

Arise North Wind! Come South Wind!
Blow upon my garden,
that its perfumes may spread abroad."

--Song of Songs 4:12-16

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Slippery slopes

Abortion foes use Peterson case. This AP article appeared in many places (CNN, ABC, et al) over the weekend and today.

The general idea is that the pro-life movement is exploiting this death in order to make a political point. Two paragraphs from the article:

"'In the Peterson case, I've heard no one go on radio or TV and say there shouldn't be an indictment for the death of that child,' said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, the bill's chief Senate sponsor. 'The fact is there are two victims -- it's a fiction to say there aren't.'

Abortion-rights activists counter the gruesome murder case is being exploited callously as part of a broad strategy to undermine the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion."

When they respond this way, abortion rights activists appear to be saying that ultimately it endangers first-trimester abortion rights if fetuses at any stage are granted legal rights.

They'd surely be in a stronger position if they could say, "First-trimester abortions are completely different in principle from 8-month old fetuses; therefore, giving legal rights to 8-month-old fetuses does nothing at all to endanger the reasons why we think it is okay to end 8-week pregnancies."

Their evident belief that it is one short step from thinking that Connor was a real baby who was killed to the repeal of Roe v Wade makes me wonder about what THEY think is the difference between an 8-month-old fetus and an 8-week old fetus.

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