an After abortion

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Monday, February 2, 2004

Abortions didn't ruin woman's life--she did it by herself.

This is a letter-to-the-editor in a daily Maryland newspaper. It heaps scorn on a woman who was quoted in an AP article speaking about her abortion regrets at the Silent No More gathering in Washington, DC on January 22.

It takes courage to speak in public about abortion regrets--you risk public scorn.

The woman in question had had three abortions, and that is part of why she gets reviled by the letter writer.

People who have had more than one abortion, in my limited experience as a lay counselor, are apt to live with a lot of self-contempt. "One abortion is bad enough, but I must be really evil." One woman I know compared herself to serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer--except she thought she was worse, because she killed her own children.

This is why I think it is important for women struggling with a past that includes multiple abortions to understand abortion as a traumatic wound. Theresa Burke talks about this in one chapter of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortoin.

Her theory is that for some women, the first abortion kicks off a cycle of abuse--promiscuity, repeat pregnancies and repeat abortions--in a frantic effort to master the traumatic feelings that arose in the first abortion.

I know several women who spiralled into a pattern of destruction after an abortion, and had five or six abortions in a 2-3 year period. They often live with intense pain for years, and a belief that they are uniquely evil.

If I hadn't gotten involved with post-abortion support, I don't think I would have believed that this really happens.

Until there is far greater public awareness of the emotional dynamics surrounding abortion as a traumatic event, women who have had more than one abortion--and who speak about abortion regrets in public--are being unusually brave.

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