By Sarah Terzo
From a 2004 study that did a group interview with post-abortive adolescents:
“The loss of a potential child by abortion gives rise to the universal experience of mourning, in which adolescents are developmentally more vulnerable…. Because strong cultural and religious taboos exist, aspects of traumatic grief are sometimes ignored….
The adolescents described feelings of guilt, shame, secrecy, or confusion that clarified how the social stigma of abortion was reinforced in the high school setting. American adolescents are more likely to disapprove of abortion because they tend to respond in absolute terms to moral issues. Stone and Waszak’s study (Stone, R., & Waszak, C. (1992). Adolescent knowledge and attitudes about abortion. Family Planning Perspectives, 24, 52-57) demonstrated that adolescents’ first association to abortion was “killing the baby” ….
The group members in our study indicated they felt guilty when they were seen entering the abortion clinic, a feeling exacerbated by protesters who were sometimes encountered outside the clinic. Classroom discussions that condemned abortion also made the adolescents feel uncomfortable and guilty….
The socially based negative emotions of guilt, shame, and fear of disapproval were still noted in these group participants, even 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed women’s right to choose, offering some societal acceptance of this choice. These feelings of guilt and shame, along with the shock and trauma of the pregnancy, can prevent adolescents from incorporating the experience of abortion into a learning experience because the defense of denial is used. This denial may cause a repetition of the shameful experience….
Some group members shared that they talked to the fetus and said, “I’m sorry,” to the fetus.”
Daly, Joan Ziegler, ACSW; Ziegler, Robert, MD; Goldstein, Donna J, RN, CPNP, “Adolescent Postabortion Groups” Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services; Thorofare Vol. 42, Issue 10, (Oct 2004): pp. 48-54.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.