an After abortion

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Intermittent hiatus.

I'm going on a one-week trip and not taking my laptop. If I find an internet cafe on my travels I might post an update.

I appreciate the insightful comments our readers have been making on the series on abortions in pro-life families.

In my experience, women who come from pro-life families and who had one or another degree of pro-life conviction at the time they had an abortion do not cast about in their family-of-origin dynamics looking for someone to blame. Rather, such women tend to believe of themselves that the reason they ended up on that table in the clinic is because there is something quite wrong with them--that they are morally weak or possibly morally evil (I hear "I am an evil murderer" pretty often.)

These women, and women from pro-choice backgrounds who never thought that they would make this choice, often describe the time during which the abortion decision was made, leading up to the abortion itself, as a "whirlwind" or some similar phrase. The sense is that they weren't in a normal frame of mind. They wonder what was going on inside them that led to this sense of inescapability, lassitude, helplessness and other similar feelings.

Any decision like this comes about because of a conjunction of many different reasons, psychological forces, and so on. Most of us aren't aware on a conscious level of the different ways that our upbringing impacts our adult (or late teen decisions). It happens all the time that a woman who acts out in sexually promiscuous and self-harmful ways in her 20s doesn't make any connection between this behavior and the fact that she was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. A good therapist helps her understand these connections, not just on a head level but also on a heart level. And this in turn helps her understand that the sexually harmful behavior doesn't mean (as she has usually taken it to mean) that there is something very wrong with her, at the core of her sexual being.

Similarly, it is helpful to the post-abortive woman who has concluded that there is something uniquely morally wrong at the core of her being to start to understand that family-of-origin dynamics played a factor in this decision. It's not about blaming the family, but about helping her understand all the factors that created a sense of panic, inevitability, unavoidability, absence of choice, and so forth, in the abortion decision.

People who work in post-abortion ministry see certain patterns of family dynamics over and over again. Part of the reason for looking at these dynamics here is to help pro-life families understand that if we want to help our daughters and sons avoid abortion, we need to do more than teach about the sanctity of life--we also need to do the best we can to build psychologically healthy families.

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