an After abortion

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Julie of Silent Rain Drops has a new post about two subjects of perennial interest to me:

(a) the intersection of regretful post-abortive women with the pro-life movement;
(b) whether people who hang out a shingle as post-abortion counselors are actually qualified, especially considering the severity of (and difficulty treating) traumatic memories and other trauma symptoms.

Read Julie first.

The first issue was brought up to Julie by a pro-life activist who--judging from what Julie writes--finds that post-abortive women are kind of a pain to work with, with all that comes along with the emotional instability generated by unhealed trauma.

My first reaction to this was that this suggests that compared to post-abortive women, the rest of the pro-life movement is composed of people who are paragons of emotional, mental and relational health. In my five years of involvement with the pro-life movement, I have not found that there is a noticeable difference in the day-to-day operational effectiveness of those who are PA versus those who are not.

People who are attracted to causes often...usually, I'd say...have personalities that are outside the norm. I've always been involved in social activism of one kind or another, and there's a certain semi-Aspergerish personality that seems drawn to causes: socially insensitive, tactless, difficult, with an apparent inability to read how what they say and how they say it will be perceived by others. In fact, the woman who thoughtlessly insulted Julie appears to have this personality style.

Another personality style that seems drawn to social causes is the brash enthusiast. There are lots of people like this in the pro-life movement, and in any other movement or campaign. The enthusiasm is not matched by operational effectiveness. That is, the day-in, day-out reliability, ability to accomplish tasks appropriately and on time, ability to work well with others on a project, and even simple things like being able to return phone calls and answer emails just isn't there. A post-abortive woman who is living day-to-day with the symptoms of unresolved trauma may not be operationally effective (although one trauma coping style is to emotionally numb out and distract oneself with work, and people like that can accomplish a lot). On the other hand, there are many non-PA folks in the pro-life movement who are not operationally effective for unknown reasons that are not a consequence of living with unresolved abortion trauma.

The second question Julie raises is whether post-abortion counselors are adequately trained, especially to deal with the symptoms of unresolved trauma. The answer is: not as far as I can tell.

Right now, someone I love very much is going through a period of recognizing and reliving horrific events that occurred during this person's childhood. This is what the therapist Julie quotes refers to as "memory work". I'll write more about this later, especially in reference to Julie's question about the level of preparedness of those in post-abortion work.

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