By Dave Andrusko
In the weeks preceding Mother’s Day, it has become a ritual for some women who’ve aborted to proudly tell us they feel….nothing on Mother’s Day. As Jenny Kutner put it earlier this week, her abortion of nearly two years ago
wasn’t a difficult decision. At no point did I feel like I became a mother when I got pregnant — not when I saw two lines on the pregnancy test, not when I walked into the clinic for the procedure and not when I walked out.
She tells us, in fact, she never thought about it until a blogger harshly criticized her for her abortion. Indeed, “In fact, it [the lack of a feeling] only got stronger [after that].”
The truth is, it never occurred to me to think of my abortion on Mother’s Day until I read the post. This does not make me callous; it just means I’ve never felt an early, unintended, unwanted pregnancy made me a mother. Many people who have had abortions feel the same way I do, while others feel the opposite. Pregnancy and abortion aren’t monolithic experiences, and people experience each and every one differently. [The underlining is mine.]
Kutner says she talked to women who had aborted and ran the responses of four.
Two aborted because they were told their babies had (as one woman put it) a “bunch of abnormalities.” This, tragically, does happen, but it not the reason there are over one million abortions a year. The comments of another suggests she was even less attached to her baby than Kuttner, while the fourth woman was far more ambivalent.
I don’t know any of these women, obviously, so any comments must be inferences that I believe can be fairly drawn or are based on other more expansive explanations from other women who’ve aborted.
Kutner tells us (as noted above), “Pregnancy and abortion aren’t monolithic experiences, and people experience each and every one differently.” Yes, but….
Do I believe that on a conscious level some unknown percentage of women who’ve aborted will experience no “attachment,” no sense of loss, or grief? Yes, I do. Not everyone is wired for empathy or even the capacity to look outside themselves.
Do I also believe it is possible for a woman–any woman– to abort her child and feel nothing? Or better put, be unchanged? No, I don’t. Absolutely not.
I’m no psychologist but over the years experience has taught me that at some level all women who end the life of their unborn child are forever changed–and not for the better. It is no exaggeration to say, having read about and talked with many women, that an abortion can absolutely devastate them. Kuttner no doubt disagrees.
Let’s move away from her and talk more generally.
Abortion advocates may, on occasion, grudgingly concede that having an abortion can be terribly disruptive–emotionally and psychologically–to a woman. Typically, however, their fall-back position is that it’s only a relative handful and the explanation is not the abortion but the problems she was already burdened with.
It’s not a tiny minority at all. And bear in mind, the numbers will always be smaller than they are in truth because there are many incentives to either stay quiet or be less than candid.
In 2012 Prof. Priscilla Coleman published what is called a “meta-analysis”–a study of the studies–which (as she put it) “has much more credibility than the results of individual empirical studies or narrative reviews.”
So what did “Abortion and Mental Health: A Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published from 1995-2009” reveal? According to Coleman, that
“women who aborted experienced an 81% increased risk for mental health problems. When compared specifically to unintended pregnancy delivered, women were found to have a 55% increased risk of experiencing mental health problem. This review offers the largest quantitative estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world.”
And that doesn’t address a host of collateral damages–a heightened risk of breast cancer, premature births of subsequent babies, to name just two. And if we were honest, wouldn’t we want to know the impact on others–grandparents, fathers, siblings?
Abortion takes the life of a defenseless child whose only “offense” (in almost all cases) is that her/his arrival was unplanned.
Should it surprise us that such a violent act against an defenseless victim would carry with it an emotional aftermath that may be repressed and unacknowledged but which is powerless to make that little “ghost” go away?