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Post-Abortion Syndrome by J.C. Willke, MD
Five steps on how you can help.
It would be difficult to find a pro-life person who isn’t aware of the negative psychological aftermath of abortion, commonly known as Post-Abortion Syndrome. For most, it conjures up a rather vague vision of her feeling considerable personal guilt and regret at having had the abortion. Frequently one’s knowledge of this comes from having known a friend who suffers from this problem. For a few readers, this is intensely personal, as it is they, personally, who are hurting. The purpose of this article is to briefly set forth the problem and its symptoms, and then to discuss in more detail how each of you can help such a woman.
It must be noted that the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association continue to be influenced by political correctness on this issue. Neither of these national groups has yet to admit that Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) even exists. Sadly, most other medical groups, while not in a state of full denial, nevertheless have done nothing to elucidate this problem. One exception to this has been a recent article in the American Family Physician, the official journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
For most women, induced abortion is a traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. For some, the psychological impact has been likened to that seen in Vietnam war veterans and from certain other severely psychologically traumatic situations. There is a normal psychological defense mechanism that each of us uses. We tend to suppress the bad things that have happened to us and we tend to remember the good things. Up to a point this is normal and, hopefully, effective. For some women it seems to suffice post-abortion. For others, it works for a time. For a few, it never works at all.
The main coping mechanisms are repression and denial. Her counselor and the abortionist both said this wouldn’t bother her. Her girl friends said it wouldn’t bother her. So did her boyfriend or husband. Likewise, it was often her referring physician and sometimes even her clergyman. She also told herself that this would not bother her. Then, when symptomatology occurs, she denies that it is related to the abortion, and she represses the symptoms, internalizing them, and tries to consciously obliterate them from her memory. Oh no, that isn’t why she feels so bad. It’s because her boss, or whoever, was mean to her. No, that’s not why sex has turned so sour. It’s because her husband is so inconsiderate, even a beast. No, that’s not why she finds it so difficult to even hold her sister’s new baby or gush over a fellow-worker’s infant brought to the office. Yes, it is exactly one year since she had the abortion, or five years, or ten, but the reason she feels so bad today must have been the food she ate last night.
The process of repression and denial does seem to work for some. For most, it works for a while, but then things begin to bubble up. Typically, major symptoms can be and are repressed for at least five years – sometimes ten or twenty. Sometimes, even in one’s dying years, the problem rears itself once again. When symptoms do occur, they take a variety of forms. They can include:
Dreams and nightmares about the baby
Headaches and other physical complaints
A loss of tenderness and empathy toward others, particularly to infants and their mothers
Sexual coldness, particularly with husband
Resort to alcohol and other drugs
Acting out occasional promiscuity
Thoughts of and actual suicide
We do not know the exact incidence of PAS nor the exact percentages of those who suffer from mild, severe and catastrophic PAS. We do know that it is not directly related to a prior knowledge of fetal development, for a majority of such women did not know this was “a baby”. We also know that it is not ordinarily related to prior religious beliefs, for a majority of women under treatment were unchurched at the time or at least felt that this was not a serious offense against God. Happily, we now have a reasonably good grasp on how to treat PAS. This breaks down into a number of steps.
1. Counter the repression and denial. She must bring this back into her consciousness. She must admit that she was a party to the destruction of her own offspring. Denying this fact has been extremely corrosive. The only answer is to bring it back to her consciousness and admit this.
Your role here is important. And by “you” I mean any person reading this article. Please do not rely on your physician, your clergyman or a social worker. Professionals often do not help a great deal in this effort. Sadly, more frequently, they have essentially no role to play here and do not understand the need for this. You are more likely to have your own doctor continue to give her anti-depressant pills-perhaps uselessly.
Your job is to be a shoulder for her. You must encourage her to open up and help her in this process. You must support her, understand and love her through this very difficult process.
2. She must grieve over her lost child. This means tears, real grief and mourning. We all really understand this. If you go to the funeral home and see your good friend, now a widow, standing by her husband’s coffin with dry eyes, uptight, holding it all inside, you know something is wrong. If you’re close enough to her, you will counsel her, “Mary, let it out, cry.” And if you are that close friend, you will share her tears.
Is the unborn a lost child? Yes, certainly. Many women will name the baby. That makes it more real, easier for her. She must go through the same grieving process that a mother would go through for a child killed in an accident or for her spouse whom she has just buried. It’s been very accurately said that there is healing in the mourning (note the spelling).
Your role is to help her grieve. Your role is to encourage her tears and to again be a shoulder for her to lean on. In fact, at times you may be the only person in her life who can offer her the kind of support and help in grieving that will be so crucial to healing her wounds.
3. Divine forgiveness: Those of us Christians who were pro-life found it entirely natural and appropriate to assure her of God’s forgiveness, that is, if she was a believer. What came as a surprise was that this turned out to be something like 98% of all women counseled, including a majority of women who were not churched. Along with Alcoholics Anonymous, this may turn out to be the second medical, psychological problem that, in almost every case, can be helped only by openly seeking divine assistance. However she knows or does not know God, it looks at this time as though the vital third step in healing is for her to come to the realization that she is not totally worthless, that she is not condemned, that she can be forgiven by a higher power, however she knows Him.
If a woman can get this far, her major symptomatology will usually be alleviated, and she can find reasonable stability and peace once again in her life. But there is a fourth step.
4. Forgive others: This is difficult but, again, as with the three above, she needs your help in doing this. She needs your support, your counsel, your shoulder. If she can, she must bring herself to forgive the abortionist, the boyfriend who paid for the abortion, the mother, the sister who talked her into it, the school counselor, her classmates, her husband, her doctor, her clergyman. If she can bring herself to this most difficult decision, that is, to forgive those who were a party to this disaster, then, truly, she will have substantial peace and stability in her life.
5. Forgive herself: Not many can really get this far. The few who do we can truly call saints. They are likened to Mary Magdalene. A very few of these women will then seek expiation, will feel spiritually motivated in love of others to give public testimony about their stories. We must never ask her to do this. It must always be a spontaneous volunteering by her. In giving testimony, she relives a very traumatic experience in her life. Only a few can do this, but those few are truly pearls of great price to the pro-life movement.
In summary we know a lot about Post-Abortion Syndrome. Is this your friend, your relative? Do you recognize these symptoms? If so, do not depend upon your local physician or clergyman to have great insight into this, or necessarily to know the steps needed in healing. You probably should not attempt the above alone, although many do and with success. Your help, almost certainly, will come from one of the 3,800 pregnancy help centers now in existence throughout the United States. It is those good women who know most about this and who often are best equipped to help.
But you may well be the central person who is the key to turn the lock to open up her problem and to help her go through the steps of healing. There are so many wounded women now in our country. We need each one of you to help your neighbor.
A Historic Exposé — “LIME 5”
Lime 5, by Mark Crutcher, is a blockbuster. Many books are written about the abortion issue. However, this is clearly one of a kind and should serve as essential reference material for pro-life activists for a long time to come. It is a detailed enumeration of abuses of the abortion industry in the United States. It provides several hundred case histories, all documented, of women severely injured or killed by abortion. This first part is uncomfortable reading. Such cases may or may not be news to seasoned veterans in the movement. However, it will eliminate any impression that this procedure is safe.
What will be news to almost everyone are another 25 pages of detailed case histories of rape and sexual assault of patients by abortionists. This is not for children to read. The author is also careful to state that this is not necessarily common practice, but he indicts a sufficient number of abortionists to throw new light on how abortion degrades women.
Another chapter gives ample evidence to show that the abortion industry is not self-policing, and that when the industry is faced with the choice of “safe” or “legal”, it almost always chooses legal.
The most startling charges, again thoroughly documented, are against the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Worth sharing is the author’s comment on page 166: “When it comes to information about abortion, the US Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, is a complete fraud. It is my opinion that if a private sector company or organization were found to be engaging in a similar cover-up, those responsible would stand a good chance of ending up in prison. Since the day it was created, the abortion surveillance branch of the CDC was run by people who functioned as abortion-industry operatives. Today, although this department no longer exists, the goal of those who took over its role remains the same: (a) to keep to a minimum the reporting of abortion morbidity and mortality, (b) to neutralize any outside sources that claim there may be problems with abortion, and (c) to perpetuate the view that abortion is safer than childbirth, even when there is evidence to the contrary. When the subject is abortion, the CDC has decided that its mission is not surveillance but damage control.” This is a serious charge. The reader of this chapter, however, will come away quite convinced that the charge is accurate.
The book speaks at length about the psychological and moral damage done to abortionists by their nefarious trade. It draws a pessimistic picture of the possibility of injured women finding justice through the present court system.
Finally, he suggests that as long as abortion remains legal, it should at least be made safer. He suggests a Contract With American Women containing nine major reforms. LIME 5 is available from Life Dynamics, PO Box 2226, Denton, TX 76202. Or phone (800) 401- 6494.
Mother’s Day Ad Available
Response to our January 22 “Love Them Both” ad was far beyond expectation. A great number of you took advantage of our professionally done ad slick. Life Issues Institute is pleased to make available an equally effective ad for your Mother’s Day celebration.
The text reads: “To all who have said a loving ‘Yes’ to life and earned the name ‘Mother.’ Today we honor all who, through their labor of love, brought forth life into the world…and those who, by the love they bore in their hearts, gave adopted children a new life. Motherhood is more than 9 to 5. It’s 24 hours a day. Joyful. Tearful. Heartbreaking. Elating. The gift of self given in love time and time again. For you who have found the courage to love continuously, we can only say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ today and every day. We owe you our thanks – and our lives.”
Order your black-and-white 8 x 10 glossy ad slick while supplies last. Payment must be included with your order. Send $5.00 (price includes postage) per ad slick to: Life Issues Institute, 1721 W. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45239.
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Promising New Trend for CPCs
A Virginia crisis pregnancy center reported in 1994 that they had seen 1,200 clients. Of that number, 450 received pregnancy tests, of which 150 were positive. Of the 150 positive tests, there were only 15 clients who were abortion-minded.
This scenario has grown increasingly common in a large number of women help centers according to Thomas Glessner, president and general counsel of the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA). An alarmingly high number of these centers, according to Glessner, are seeing less and less abortion-vulnerable or abortion-minded women. Instead they are finding themselves assisting women who, from the beginning, fully intended to avoid an abortion.
While providing assistance to women who never intended to have an abortion is an important part of the pro-life movement, Glessner’s organization feels that many women help centers have been diverted from their original mission, that is changing the minds of abortion-bound women.
NIFLA was originally founded in 1993 to provide CPCs with legal training, education and counsel. They currently have over 440 affiliated CPCs under their umbrella. While establishing this basic foundation of service to CPCs, Glessner witnessed an increasing number of legal and legislative attacks by pro-abortion organizations and politicians. These attacks, bolstered by the media, have taken a toll on women help centers throughout the nation. More and more women in crisis are bypassing pro-life CPCs and going directly to abortion clinics. These women then fail to experience the love and compassion of those who would offer her and the baby positive alternatives to her unexpected pregnancy. Altering this trend is the new mission of NIFLA. And they have a well thought out, comprehensive plan to make their goal a reality.
Glessner and company have introduced the Pregnancy Help Medical Clinic – their new vision for the 21st century. NIFLA believes that converting women help centers into licensed medical facilities will make these pro-life entities highly competitive with the abortion industry when competing for abortion-minded women. Centers who have already made this conversion are reporting an increase in the number of abortion-vulnerable women coming into their clinics. They further report that the number of women who change their minds and choose life is also increasing.
The services that attract these women include immediate pregnancy confirmation and on-site medical attention. Referrals for testing for sexually transmitted diseases and prenatal care can also be made. In addition, using ultrasound to confirm pregnancies and Doppler, which allows the woman to hear her baby’s heartbeat, dramatically affects their decision not to abort.
The pregnancy help medical clinic in Baton Rouge, LA, reports that 100% of the abortion-minded women who come into their clinic and hear their baby’s heartbeat change their minds and choose life. The Life Choices clinic in Seattle, WA, has had similar results. Beth Chase, president, said “In a span of three eight-hour shifts, we received sixteen phone calls from abortion-vulnerable women. Fourteen of these women came into the clinic for counseling. Thirteen women had positive tests and all chose life.”
The volunteer medical staff needed depends on the level of service offered. Minimally a clinic will need a physician to serve as the medical director. The director is responsible for the clinic’s medical policies and procedures. Registered nurse(s) will provide services such as overseeing the pregnancy testing procedure, signing the verification of a positive pregnancy test form, using the Doppler, administering blood pressure checks and answering appropriate medical questions.
The initial cost of converting a women help center into a clinic is less that you might think. Expenses to convert the Baton Rouge clinic were only $1,506.45. Increased monthly expenses again depends on the level of services offered.
NIFLA’s experienced staff is available to assist any CPC contemplating a change to clinic status. They will provide step-by-step direction throughout the process. NIFLA’s goal is to assist 1,000 women help centers to convert into a licensed medical clinic by the end of the year 2000. In order to accomplish this task, they will sponsor a series of training conferences around the nation. For more information contact NIFLA at (703) 785-9853 or write to their address at: PO Box 42060, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. They will be happy to answer any quesitons.
New Developments In RU 486 Boycott
Hoechst Roussel drug company, the maker of RU 486, has recently completed a merger with Marion Merrell Dow. Hoechst Roussel’s name has been changed as a result of this merger to Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc..
Hoechst Marion Roussel (HMR) was formed in 1995 by the merger of the pharmaceutical operations of Germany-based Hoechst AG; Marion Merrell Dow, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri; and Roussel Uclaf, whose home base is France.
RU 486 is part of a two-drug abortion technique that kills a developing unborn baby after her heart has already begun to beat.
In response to the merger, almost every major pro-life, pro-family organization has renewed its efforts to support a consumer boycott of HMR products.
These pro-life groups are committed to protecting both mothers and their unborn babies from this dangerous chemical weapon. Their intent is to encourage HMR to withdraw RU 486 from the US and stop distribution in France, Sweden, China and the United Kingdom.
The initial boycott was launched in July of 1994. Life Issues Institute researched and developed a consumer boycott card which has been distributed from our international headquarters in Cincinnati, OH. In addition, several pro-life, pro-family organizations have duplicated the card and made it available to their constituencies. To date, over one million cards have been distributed throughout the nation encouraging consumers to boycott drugs made by Hoechst.
The new merger has added two newly targeted drugs to the boycott list – Cardizem calcium channel blocker and Seldane antihistamine. Cardizem garnered $993 million in sales in 1994 and Seldane sales were $698 million for the same year.
There have been two developments that have caused the expansion of the consumer boycott. First, it is anticipated that an application will be filed very soon with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market RU 486. FDA Commissioner David Kessler has been a vocal promoter of RU 486 (known commercially as “mifepristone”) to the point where he publicly promised that FDA approval would only require 6 months.
Second, with the merger, the target of the consumer product boycott – Hoechst Marion Roussel – actually manufactures and distributes RU 486, rather than merely being a subsidiary.
The revised consumer boycott list targets those drugs which provide the highest income for the company. Pro-lifers will be able to make a bigger impact targeting fewer, more profitable drugs rather than a wide array of products.
Revised Consumer Boycott List
Prescription Drug Use Substitute
Cardizem calcium channel blocker generics available
Seldane antihistamine Claritin or Hismanal
Claforan antibiotic substitutes available
Lasix diuretic generics available
DiaBeta diabetes Micronase, generics
Nicoderm smoking cessation Habitrol patch,
In addition to the consumer boycott, all pro-lifers are encouraged to write to HMR and express your dismay at their role in manufacturing and distributing this deadly drug that targets unborn babies. Their address is: Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., President Richard Markham, PO Box 9627, Kansas City, MO 64134-0627._
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Powerful New Pro-Life Video
It’s emotional, compelling and will leave a lasting impression on those who view it. It is perhaps the most effective new tool in reaching abortion-minded women while certain to impact all audiences – even the hard-core feminist. This new powerful video, After the Choice was recently produced by Concerned Women for America.
The style is refreshingly contemporary and it is beautifully pro-woman and pro-child. It has no graphic footage. Viewers are riveted as they watch a small group of courageous women, from all walks of life, eloquently share their experiences with their choice of abortion, the procedure and its aftermath. Their stories and emotions are real. One can’t help but be emotionally drawn into their message.
As victims of the abortion campaign, they share a compelling message…
that abortion is painful….
“How do you make the pain go away? They [the abortion industry] don’t give you answers for that….How do you stop hating yourself? They don’t have an easy answer for that.”
that the abortion industry is cold and heartless….
“When I chose abortion they never told me that I would be killing the only baby that I would ever conceive….I will grow old and I will never have children that will call me mom. I will never have grandchildren that will call me grandma. And it’s going to be lonely because of one choice.”
and that a woman’s decision to abort will be with her for the rest of her life….
“It’s a decision for a lifetime. You can’t go back. And you can never take the memory away..”
After the Choice demonstrates that there are two victims with every abortion – mother and child. The pro-life movement can use this latest video to further a persuasive message of “Love Them Both.”
We highly recommend it as an effective tool to change the hearts and minds of Americans on abortion. The video’s running time is 25 minutes and available for your immediate order. To obtain your copy contact: Concerned Women for America, PO Box 65453, Washington, DC, 20035. Or phone them at (202) 488-7000.
Is It Safe For a Candidate to Be Pro-Life? Is It Smart?
Prior to the primary, The Concord, NH Monitor asked, “Where will the pro-choice votes go?” Noting they had “no place to go” after Specter, Wilson and Powell withdrew. It stated that a “sizable” percentage of GOP voters would prefer such a candidate and quoted NARAL that 71% of GOPers are “pro-choice”. It also noted that the Bush-Quayle ticket lost 17% of GOP voters because of its pro-life stance.
This is just one of many such claims that you will be hearing ad nauseam until the Democrat and Republican Conventions. Are such claims correct? Is there a sizable pro-abortion vote that the GOP will lose if they field a pro-life nominee (to any office) and maintain a pro-life platform plank?
Actual polling data demonstrates clearly that such claims are false. Being pro-life actually helps a candidate.
Let’s take a hypothetical candidate with no particular conviction on the abortion issue and assume that his primary concern is getting elected. If he can determine which position will be more helpful in getting elected, he will adopt that position. Would this candidate be guided by national polls reporting what percent favor and oppose abortion? No, that would be rather naive, for only about half of the population votes, and he’s not concerned about what the non-voters think. He’s only interested in the opinion of voters.
Second, would he simply poll everyone who has voted and use that as his guiding light? No, that would be rather naive also. If this voter casts a ballot primarily on foreign policy, crime, farm policy or other issues, then the candidate is not interested in the abortion convictions of these voters and should not be guided by their opinions.
Instead, he should single out those who will vote on the abortion issue alone. Of these, how many will vote for a member of their party, or cross over to another party, on the abortion issue alone? These percentages then, would guide him. Clearly many or most candidates would not use this alone in establishing a position. But this would be important to know.
Let’s look at past recent experience.
A major exit poll was done by the Voter Research & Survey Group, sponsored by a consortium of the four major networks (no friends of ours). This information was suppressed, to be obtained only in February of ’93. Here it is.
Fifteen thousand people nationwide were asked what motivated their vote. Thirteen percent of all voters said they voted on the abortion issue alone. Of these, Bush got 7.2; Clinton, 4.7; and Perot, 1.1. There was a second choice – “Family Values”. An additional 15% of the total electorate chose it. Family values included abortion, pornography, prayer in schools, TV violence and other issues, but abortion has always been the prime family value that people are concerned about. Of the 15%, Bush received 9.8; Clinton, 3.5; and Perot, 1.7.
It is clear that Bush handily won on the issues of abortion and family values. It actually saved Bush from being completely buried as Clinton won among those who chose the economy.
What of the women’s vote? Overall, 45% of women voted for Clinton, 37% for Bush. This was well publicized. But among women voting on abortion, it was Bush 50% to Clinton’s 42%.
Minority race voters voted 83 to 10 for Clinton, but noted abortion so seldom it was statistically insignificant. Whites who voted on abortion gave Bush 55% to Clinton’s 36%.
And what of the cross-over vote among those who voted on abortion? 24% of Democrats went for Bush, only 11% of Republicans pulled the lever for Clinton.
The pro-abortion networks did not make the mistake of asking the same questions. Anticipating this, the National Right to Life Comm. had Wirthlin do a similar poll. The question was, “Did the abortion issue affect the way you voted?” The result was startlingly similar as 27% of the total electorate stated they voted on the abortion issue, with 9% voting for pro-abortion candidates, while 18% voted for pro-life candidates.
The most recent example of this has been the Oregon senatorial race. Rep. Ron Wyden (D) has been an aggressive, pro-abortion partisan in the US House. State Senator Gordon Smith (R) was known to be pro-life. Oregon is the least churched and one of the most liberal states in the union. It has a majority Democrat registration and its senators and congressmen, of both parties, have almost always been very moderate to liberal. Accordingly, one would have expected that the majority of votes cast solely on the abortion issue would have gone to the pro-abortion candidate. This did not happen. Capitol Voter News Service polled 1,200 voters in the final week of that mail balloting. It asked what was the most important issue. Abortion and education tied for first place, each with 15% of the total electorate. Of those who voted on abortion, 42% voted for Wyden, 55% for Smith.
In that liberal, pro-abortion, Democrat state, 55% of the people who voted on this issue voted for the pro-life candidate. This obviously included a majority of those who crossed over to vote for a party not of their registration. Wyden won the election 48% to 47% (but Smith won the abortion vote over Wyden 55% to 42%).
Yes, Virginia, it is not only safe for a candidate to be pro-life, it’s smart for a candidate to be pro-life.
Fetal Deformity From Chorionic Villi Biopsy?
Chorionic villi testing has become increasingly common. It gives the same information as the mid-trimester amniocentesis testing that has been around for more than two decades. The amniocentesis test examines the cells in the fluid taken from the sac around the fetal baby. This is done about halfway through pregnancy. Sadly, the amnio test alone results in the death of about 1% of the babies tested.
Chorionic villi biopsy is done at about two months. This procedure is done through the cervix. Tiny pieces of the placenta are cut away from the tissue at the edges of the placenta. This test results in the death (miscarriage) of about 3% of the babies tested.
There are now four medical reports, from different countries, of clusters of deformed babies after chorionic villi testing. The problems seen are mostly limb reductions, i.e., missing fingers, toes, hands, arms and legs. Brain damage has also been seen. The demonstrated close association of Chorionic Villi Biopsy with these malformations has obviously raised the question as to whether this may be cause and effect. If so, how could it be explained?
Perhaps we have a clue. There has been a new scientific breakthrough. It has been recently shown that in the first three months of pregnancy the embryonic baby needs a lower concentration of oxygen than he needs in the later months.
It had been assumed that, in the placenta, oxygen from the mother’s blood diffused into the fetal circulation through a single membrane. The blood cells do not mix. Oxygen diffuses one way and carbon dioxide and other waste products the other way. Now it has been shown that, early on, there is not a single membrane, but rather there are two membranes with a chamber of liquid between them. By diffusing through this liquid, the baby gets a much weaker concentration of oxygen.
So what does this mean in regard to chorionic villi testing? Such testing removes small bites of tissue (a biopsy). If the bite cuts through both membranes, this may break down this protective chamber and allow the baby’s blood to come into more direct contact with the mother’s blood. In these early months, this could result in too high a concentration of oxygen in the baby’s blood. It could cause blood clots in the tiny vessels of the developing baby’s body, and if this were to happen, it could stop
the development of fingers, toes, arms and parts of the brain.
So here is something new. First we have seen a relatively new invasive test developed – chorionic villi biopsy. Now we have evidence pointing to this probable unwanted side effect. If true, innoc