an After abortion

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Goodness gracious.

AbortionInfo is an explicitly pro-choice LiveJournal community. (LiveJournal is a species of blog.) Women go there who are seeking information about getting abortions or who want to talk about their abortions after the fact.

Recently, a young woman posted there who had an abortion. She sounds pretty depressed and down.

As you can see from scrolling through the comments, Magdalene--a woman who is pro-life--left this comment:

...abortion doesnt make you "unpregnant" it makes you the mother of a dead child, so you have all the emotional baggage that comes with that..
The moderators there give her a piece of their mind. I pretty much agree with their basic point. It's very hard for me to imagine how someone could be under the impression that you are supporting someone who is traumatized by abortion, depressed, and in a very bad place in her relationship with her boyfriend by tossing a cold glass of water in her face.

Magdalene was a member of LiveJournal's Pro-Life community and when this was brought to the attention of that community's moderators, she was banned. Part of their reasoning for this decision is:

I think that you often fail to see that preying on someone else's pain is unlikely to lead them to whatever truth you wish they could see. If someone is in pain, for whatever happen to them, calling them a parent to a dead child...that they not going to make them suddenly turn your way. It is going to make them say "what an asshole" as that is what I would think.

Quite a bit of controversy ensued, including several people (one of whom portrays herself as an expert in the psychology of grief) who think that the cold-glass-of-water-in-the-face approach is exactly what depressed post-abortive women need.

Magdalene defends herself here.

In reading around about this, I was interested to see that there is also a Live Journal Pro-Life Snark community, where pro-life people who are upset about what they view as the viciousness or cluelessness of some pro-life people talk amongst themselves about that.

On the main point--lots of people get depressed after a death or a major loss. It's true that grief moves us through the loss, and acknowledging the loss for what it is is something that happens in the process of grief.

I know many, many people who (in my lay opinion as someone who does a lot of grief counseling) are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, who would probably get better if they could go more deeply into a real grief process. This applies across the board, to people who are enmired in depression four or five years after the death of a spouse, to people who haven't mourned an abusive childhood, etc. Lots of us have not "completed our grieving process."

Lots of just regular folks make judgments every day about this. We presume to think that Joe down the street didn't cry enough when his wife died, and that's probably why all he does two years down the road is sit alone in his house night after night. many of us think that it would be peachy-keen to go up to Joe in the grocery store one day and say, "You know what, Joe? Your wife is DEAD. She's DEAD. Why don't you just go ahead and accept that and cry? You'll be so much better off if you do, buddy!"

Or how many of us would go up to a mom whose infant died a month ago, who appears to be suffering greatly, and say, "You may not have fully acknowledged your loss and given yourself permission to grieve. I want to help you out with that. YOUR BABY IS DEAD. Yes! YOU are the mother of a DEAD BABY!"

Are there people out there who go around performing this heroic act of public service in any area other than abortion?

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