A Nuanced Approach

In the conflict surrounding the right to access abortion as part of reproductive health, we and the antis tend to stand at opposite ends of the spectrum ~ whatever the spectrum is.   You know, they say “never,” we say “Anytime.”  If they say “Murder,” we say  “Health care…”  and of course we’re right, I’m not saying we’re wrong, but…

The ever-widening gap in our thinking is probably not so helpful.  I don’t want to end up like the antis on the sidewalk.

The other day, a companion tried to explain to Mary that the client almost died during the birth of their last child, that the baby had barely survived, that the doctors said she couldn’t survive another pregnancy.   Mary’s response was “Have you thought about adoption??”

Seriously.  The risk of being an extremist is that you lose touch with reality and can’t hear anything except what you want to hear.

So when the antis rant at the clients, “Don’t do it~ you’ll be sorry ~ you’ll regret it the rest of your life ~ you’ll never get over it…”  I say, “Most women experience relief and happiness after abortion.”

Notice I say, “most” because that’s not everyone’s experience.  Some women do experience regret and sadness and may or may not carry that sadness for a long time.  Some of them end up on the anti side of the sidewalk, trying to deal with their own pain by telling their story over and over.  They don’t actually wear sackcloth and ashes, but the principle is the same.

As a therapist (yeah, mental health) I am more interested in the people who don’t do so well than I am in the ones who are happy and relieved.  And that’s what today’s post was going to be about.

Only I didn’t finish the reading I need to do for it yet.  Much less finish writing it.


So this is an advertisement for coming features.  Sorry.  Stay tuned.

17 thoughts on “A Nuanced Approach

  1. Oh, fml, I didn’t take it that way! Antis just always seem to think marriage is some kind of magic rite that makes people behave in ways they approve of.

  2. I am sorry for people who experience regret after terminating a pregnancy. I am sorry for people who regret having children or not having them. It doesn’t mean any of these choices should be illegal. What I do find bizarre is that the same people who think bearing and raising children should be forced on women don’t think those same people should be entrusted with decision to continue a pregnancy.

  3. Y’know, I think when it comes to doing my thesis, I’m going to see if I can do a study on the psychology of abortion protestors. I suspect it would make for fascinating (if slightly repetitive) reading.

  4. I’m just baffled by Mary’s response. Did she just auto-respond without thinking? Did she just not believe the companion’s story? Does she think her god will pull a miracle and just make a life-threatening pregnancy not happen? It’s intriguing in a train wreck kind of way. On what planet is that a sensible response to being told that someone is dying? I’m insanely curious about why people think and act the way they do, and want to know what was going through her head.

    I guess it doesn’t really matter. She just wasted her time and destroyed the work of every anti-choicer out there. Not that I have any kind of a problem with that.

    “I’m not saying we’re wrong, but…The ever-widening gap in our thinking is probably not so helpful. I don’t want to end up like the antis on the sidewalk.”

    I try to bridge that gap by pointing out that we’re all on the same side. We all agree we want abortion to go the hell AWAY. The Antis aren’t wrong in their feelings that abortion is akin to murder. That’s a normal response.

    But really…How is standing on a sidewalk fluttering pamphlets and whining “Don’t kill your baby” stopping the murder of the unborn? How is it stopping unwanted pregnancies? How is it getting poor women resources they need to care for their fetuses properly? How is it advancing medical technology to help women with high-risk pregnancies protect themselves and their unborn?

    We would do well to get in on that if we aren’t already.

    • Yeah, I have the same thoughts, Longtail. It amazes me that someone could give a response that illogical and expect anyone to pay attention to anything they say. “Sidewalk counselor?” So ridiculous. I often say that talking to the antis on the sidewalk is like talking to a tape recorder – just no point to it.

      I don’t think the antis on the sidewalk care about babies or the unborm. They just like the opportunity to enjoy socially sanctioned bullying. People who actually want to change things are actually doing things that are helpful, as you suggest. I suspect that many of the people on the sidewalk just appreciate the opportunity to focus on other people’s business so they can avoid thinking about their own issues. Which is not an excuse, just an observation… and just my thoughts about it.

      Thanks for the input!

      • I agree with you. They think we don’t notice that their actions aren’t matching the words coming out of their mouths.

      • I’m pretty sure you’re right. It’s not just bullying though, it’s their way of feeling superior.

    • On what planet is that a sensible response to being told that someone is dying?

      On the planet of Selfish Abortion-Minded Women, where all abortions are done for convenience and anyone who claims to *need* an abortion is just plain lying,

      Isn’t that where all protesters live?

  5. http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_post0.htm
    Post-Abortion Syndrome: Terminology, summary, symptoms, & statements

    Reflecting on the Experience of Abortion: A Phenomenological Study

    Abortion and long-term mental health outcomes:
    a systematic review of the evidence

    Click to access Charles_2008_Contraception.pdf

    Women’s Emotions One Week After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the United States

    Click to access abortion-report.pdf

    Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion

    Exploring the psychological sequelae of women who have undergone abortion : a multiple case-study approach

    A Request for Abortion – Clinical Practice

    Wellbeing and mental growth—long-term effects of legal abortion

    Google Scholar is fantastic for researching medical journals for current studies –

    • Oubli. You really are the best when it comes to this. Thanks for the links – I had some, but not all of them. Of course now it will be that much longer before the real article comes out…

      Really, thanks!!

      • One more –

        The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Clinical Opinion

        A statement on abortion by 100 professors of obstetrics:
        40 years later

        Click to access PIIS0002937813002615.pdf

        For those of you who have never heard of ACOG please stand up and take notice that this is the imminent authority on women’s health and reproductive care in the United State’s opinion on abortion care. 40 years ago 100 doctors banded together and published a compelling statement that recognized the legalization of abortion in several states and anticipated the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade, this statement affirmed a women’s right to choose, the private relationship between physician and patient and how the health care system could best meet the needs for safe, legal abortion.

        40 years later our cultural complacency allowed an extremest element to rewrite the script on women’s health and has connived to legislate abortion care into the fringes out of the mainstream away from teaching hospitals, universities and local hospitals and it has become necessary for ACOG to issue a reaffirmation of said statement.

        Modern-Day Ob-Gyns Affirm Physicians’ Obligations Outlined in 1972 Statement on Abortion

        Click to access PIIS0002937813002615.pdf

  6. You’re raising such an important point. I’m totally pro choice, but even so, I’m not ‘pro abortion’. It would be better if fewer women needed them. If the pro lifers want to create ‘a culture of life’ there are good, proven ways to do that, like offering good sex education and access to contraception, and then making sure that babies and mothers don’t fall into poverty or get denied opportunity. Try discussing any of that with a pro lifer. Nope. You get a face full of ranting about sexual morality instead.

    • Thanks, Bodycrimes. You’re absolutely right – pro-lifers are really all about sexual morality. It’s too bad, because all that energy they use could make a real difference.

    • These are people who probably have sex lives of their own but think all unmarried people (or married poor people) should never have sex.

      • Being married doesn’t automatically infer that a couple want to be parents, either. Having kids was never in the plan, and I’m not quite sure what I would have done in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. At any rate, it certainly wouldn’t have been anyone’s business but mine and my husband’s.

      • Good point, Jules. Sorry if I made it sound like I thought all married people wanted kids. For sure, I know better than that.

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