an After abortion

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Thursday, June 2, 2005

Our readers may have already seen A late decision, a lasting anguish from the Tuesday edition of the Los Angeles Times...a front-page story about late-term abortions at George Tiller's clinic in Wichita.

One of the women who had a late-term abortion there is suffering psychiatrically:

Since her abortion, Plazio has suffered such severe panic attacks that she can't drive even as far as the high school to watch her daughter cheerlead. She has gained 60 pounds as she battles depression. The abortion she sought to preserve her mental health has left her deeply shaken; doctors say she suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Her mental health, she is convinced, would be even worse had she tried to raise a profoundly disabled son — or had she given him up for adoption.
Although the reporter does a good job keeping personal reactions out of the article, there seems to be a "you've got to be kidding me" hovering around that last paragraph.

It hadn't struck me before that abortion is sometimes used as an attempted treatment for a mental health disorder, as in "You're having mental health issues, and the way I propose to treat them is through aborting your pregnancy."

My older friends who did the therapy routine in the 70s tell me that therapists were quick to urge divorce at that time. "You're depressed. Your husband is causing this. Get a divorce."

I think most therapists now believe in directly treating the presenting symptom (anxiety, depression) rather than switching things up in the client's life (quit your job, leave your husband) because they understand that the person's symptoms may be aggravating her view of what is going on in her life. Husbands don't look too good when you're profoundly depressed, you know? When a client's anxiety or depression has improved and stabilized, you can start to take a look at situational and environmental factors that might be a part of why she got depressed in the first place.

This newer approach to treating women suffering from anxiety and depression doesn't seem to have filtered through to abortion providers who, if I am reading this article correctly, think that "abort your baby" is a reasonable treatment for a woman suffering from anxiety and depression.

Update: The blogger at A plumbline in the wind had this to say about the above-referenced article:

Sometimes you hear the slogan from the pro-choice side, "If you're against abortion, don't have one"--but what the stories in this piece illustrate best is the tragedy that just having the choice brings. As the availability of divorce has transformed marriage, the possibility of abortion has transformed childbearing. If abortion were not an option, these women would not have felt the responsibility for deciding whether or not their children were to be born. Anger, sadness, fear, even loathing they might have felt, but in the end they would have had to accept it, as they would have to accept if a healthy child had suffered a fatal disease or a disabling accident, or if they themselves had.

But now we have choice, and therefore what might otherwise be out of our control is under our control. Moreover what was once outside our knowledge is now brought, by ultrasound and amniocentesis, within our knowledge. Whether we exercise that choice or not, the decision is within the power of parents, mainly but not only of mothers. Every child is now a survivor, either because he had the good fortune to be conceived by parents who believed he had a right to life, or because he was perfect enough that his parents believed he merited it.

"Every child a wanted child"--that's another of their slogans. What a burden, to be a wanted child! It's almost as bad as being a wanted criminal, to be born because your parents wanted you, not in the sense that most parents desire to have children, but with the knowledge that they might have not wanted you and been able to do something about it. The child of yesteryear could say, even if his parents were sometimes cruel or indifferent, that even if they didn't want him, at least God did, and it was to God he owed a debt of gratitude for his life. But today's wanted child is born in debt to his parents and to their choice, and into a lifelong obligation to validate their choice by pleasing them.

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