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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Lingering Thoughts About Abortion: Male Grief is Hidden.

That's the headline of an article in the June 2004 Psychology Today.

The article is not available online.

Writer Stacey Kalish talks about three men--Michael, David and "sadguy"--who are experiencing lingering pain in the aftermath of an abortion. Kalish also quotes therapst Michael Y. Simon. Simon is based in the San Francisco area. Part of his practice involves counseling men after abortion and as he says in the article:

"These men often deny themselves the experience of grieving," says Simon. He says the emotional toll can manifest itself in low self-esteem, substance abuse, failed relationships and sexual dysfunction..."Men get the message that the best thing they can do in the situation is to withdraw," says Simon, "forcing deeper or more traumatic feelings to be kept unconscious."
Kalish also interviewed Miriam Gerace for the article. Gerace is identified as a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood. She says:

...the response to a trial run for male-targeted counseling services was overwhelming. "We quickly realized that there is a dire need for services of this kind."
Gerace also notes that in 2002, a Manhattan Planned Parenthood office initiated the "Waiting Room Project". In this project, men are shown slide presentations "on topics including safe sex and how to be supportive of their partner during an unwanted pregnancy."

(It's not clear to me how showing men this slide show would be even remotely helpful to them in resolving grief, conflict, or other lingering negative feelings about an abortion.)

Kalish also writes that "many men have found an outlet online". She refers readers to Jilly's site, the Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome website. This site has message boards with, as of early May, around 6,400 users. Although most users are women, there are message boards just for men.

Kalish starts and ends her article with a focus on Michael. He's a graduate student at New York University. Kalish says that Michael is "staunchly pro-choice". Five years ago, when Michael was 18, he took his (now former) girlfriend to an abortion clinic in Delaware. The article concludes:

Five years later, Michael says he still thinks about the experience. He feels it "seeps into the subconscious and always stays with you."
It does, doesn't it?

Our readers might consider dropping a line to the editors at Psychology Today to thank them for running this article. You could also send a formal letter-to-the-editor here.

As far as I am aware, Psychology Today has never written anything about the lingering impact that abortion can have on women. It might be valuable to suggest such a piece to Psychology Today's Editor-In-Chief Kaja Perina.

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