an After abortion

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Letter from a reader.
I have a question for you. My girlfriend had an
abortion about 2 months ago and lately she cannot
remember anything about it. She knows something
happened but she doesn't know what it was. I don't
know what to do. Should I tell her? or will her
memory come back? She used to see a psychologist for
anxiety, but she hasn't been in a while and its very
expensive. If you could help at all, I would really
appreciate it.

I answered this reader directly, with basic information about post-abortion amnesia and some ideas about where to get help.

As to whether he should tell his girlfriend that she had an abortion, though, I don't have an opinion. If she is upset enough by the abortion that she has blocked it out, on the one hand, I'd tend to assume that this was a wise and self-preserving move on the part of her subconscious mind. On that theory, some day she'll remember what happened when she is feeling stronger and safer and more able to cope.

On the other hand, if the abortion has created enough turmoil that the memories have been suppressed, there would still be a lot of psychological pressure from that even if she is not conscious of the source of the pressure. This could lead to various unhealthy outcomes. Also, there's the danger that her painful memories might come flooding back one day because of potential triggers such as seeing an article about abortion. If the memories are bad enough that she has repressed them, a sudden return could lead to decompensation. On this theory, she would be better off if the boyfriend worked out a plan to tell her, with a mental health professional available for backup if needed.

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