Much has been written, spoken, reported about this new intruder into the life of this…
Dear Friends it’s been said to me that I now speak less about PAS and more about sexual abuse of children within the family. Perhaps others of my readership feel the same and so I thought I will deal with this here. I have spoken, written, and counselled on abortion grief for many years. I’ve even written a book, many many articles written and published. I face this grief daily and daily I learn a bit more and am confirmed in what I already know and do. One such comment from a reader of my newsletter was “…but Anne post abortion pain is the most important pain in our day” and I agree with this but I also have to respond to the reality that sexual abuse grief is as endemic and as proliferate as abortion grief. I encounter this in daily work.
I have read every study put out by various researchers into abortion grief, and yes I know all about, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, suicide thinking, depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, panic attacks, fear of decision making, flash backs, relationship difficulties and a self-destructive desire. I know and have seen these almost every day since I began. Indeed today I am able to identify someone who is not truly post abortive but a plant (yes these happen). I have recently worked through something which no other researcher has yet mentioned, and this because the client herself spoke the words. “I’m angry, Anne, with my baby for coming to me. She knew I couldn’t manage, I couldn’t have a baby. She knew I was afraid. Why did she make me make such a decision? I didn’t want to make such a decision. I’ve always wanted a family and never believed in abortion. So why did she come to me when I couldn’t manage so I had to make such a decision? I feel evil for even thinking this way but I am angry because I know I shouldn’t have done it. I want to blame her but I know I’m being irrational.” (Kate-once off so far)
These are words I have heard not once (similar others) but many times throughout the years. An anger with the baby for implanting in her womb. She and they know it’s irrational but feels this anger. Why? I have to ask the question and then try and work out the answer so I can help my client.
It’s all well and good to read research, and studies but unless we can come up with answers then we won’t be able to work out how to help. I have to admit that years back when I first noticed this anger (and since then) it had me baffled. Blaming a tiniest baby for implanting in its natural home? Why? And over much thought and even waking up during the night and thinking about it, I’ve slowly come to some sort of answer. An answer that helps me to be able to apply strategies to help and overcome this pain. At the core of abortion grief is soul pain. And it’s the soul pain which needs to be addressed. We might even call it conscience pain. Conscience knowing of the wrong done. Blaming the other is a running away from the conscience pain. The anger is not really at the child because she is grieving her infant deeply (otherwise she wouldn’t be seeking help from me or others) but at her failure to recognise the attachment and bonding which began at the moment when the baby reached his/her home, the womb.
mother has it written in her being to welcome her child home, her home and not remove her child in violence like an intruder. Indeed some feminists called it a “ parasite,” and her anger is the realisation that she also treated her baby like an intruder and had it violently removed and in that decision which has gone against all which is her design she now (after abortion) is angry and desolate.
The flippancy of some who say that “I had 3, 2, 5, etc. abortions and I’m ok” is just that. Flippancy. A self-protective device so as not to be angry about her decision. A temporary and necessary blindness so as not to feel pain. A soul sedative. Though in due course it must be acknowledged and addressed and sedative stopped.
Acknowledging the anger, helping her to feel that it’s an anger she needs to feel and express, many times if needs be, but then to let it go is important. Acknowledging that the embryo implanted because first of all God said YES to this new perfect creation according to His design, but at a rational level the soil in the garden was ready to receive the seed and so began the work of growth of new flower. Acknowledging that her anger is directed at the baby because she is unable to think that she would naturally make such a decision. This needs exploration and time. What is behind this thinking? Why afraid of being punished.
Once this is acknowledged and spoken out loud and not in any way feeling judged or rejected because of her feeling this anger then in time the work of healing can really begin. We speak about all the symptoms associated with abortion grief and perhaps even run off the list of known symptoms that we know and have read about many times but sometimes I believe that we have depended too much on the rational in order to receive acceptance by medical, health communities, and society, and failed to recognise what really, deeply, is the cause of the pain of the post abortive woman who mourns in a complicated manner.
For me the longer I am involved in this work (together with sexual abuse grief which has very similar symptoms and the same violence is committed) the more I am convinced that abortion grief occurs as a result of the disrupted and violated conscience or soul of woman. Her design is such that she always sacrifices for her planted flower which has sprouted from the perfect seed.
There is a knowing embedded in her which is absent from the man, though he too knows and feels the loss of a flower from the garden and mourns the end of a species (or generations that might have been).
I believe that today there is a knowledge that abortion causes deep grief in the woman and we know that there is a finding of 81% of women who had an abortion are at higher risk of mental health problems of any type, compared to women who have not had an abortion. Over all mental health problems of women 10% are due to abortion (Coleman- Meta analysis 1995-2009). When we think even 10% of the global feminine population then we have much grief and are horrified at the loss of life. And we can be assured it’s written in the design of woman because otherwise it would not be a global reaction but limited to an area. Whilst it’s good to read old studies and new studies, what I believe is necessary is to begin to insist that abortion grief is given the same attention as any other neonatal loss grief. Indeed it has to be recognised as a neonatal death and not whispered about so that it remains silent.
What we need is the medical profession to recognise that behind depression, self-harm, addictions, etc. there might be a pain which a pill won’t fix. Questions need to be asked before writing prescriptions. We have a need for the mental health professions not to be intimidated by the feminist movement, billionaires who give money to destroy life, politicians, who have given up on morality, counsellors who don’t allow their own pro-abortion understanding to try and validate the pain of the other. We need psychiatry to acknowledge post abortion grief so that other mental health and general health practitioners listen.
We need universities who teach grief studies to teach prospective practitioners about abortion and the management of such grief, and we need programmes to manage such a different and complicated grief. We need rituals which human beings need to conclude life stories. We need the DSM to acknowledge such grief. (Diagnostic and statistical Manual- of mental disorders).
I believe that after nearly 50 years of studies there are not too many who would say abortion doesn’t hurt (“my friend had an abortion 47 yrs. ago and she’s never got over it”-(Sally recently). Abortion today is recognised as deeply wounding but what is not recognised or even not fought against is the fact that the response to this grief is tainted by politics and not by genuine concern for woman.
Even most of the studies we read avoid mentioning the pain of the dying baby (late term). Studies speak of pain of the woman and self-destructive behaviours and change of personality, but not the fundamental reason for this imprint of this pain. This is tended to with a prescription or platitudes. The rational would have us try and explain the behaviours and changes in personality but not the wound on the essence of life. Such an explanation is considered “religious,” and out of rigidity of belief. The irony of this is that non-religious experience the same internal, unknown heart pain. We know that grief is the result of loss. Loss of love of someone or something important to our lives. Grief speaks of the need to embed into memory the story of the one lost. Grief ensures that one lost had a meaning and is never forgotten. Knowing this, it’s so dishonest not to have available the knowledge about abortion grief and then the wherewithal to deal with the issue. Today loss of a pet and its grief is acknowledged, but not loss of one’s own baby.
I have spoken to medical profession, to counselling, and to other professionals but still abortion and its grief is a “forbidden” subject because of its political powerbase.
This is what needs to change. This is what is not understood. This is the insincerity and falsity which is attached to availability and legal abortion that it passes as concern for “reproductive health” when in fact it’s a lie which deeply damages women’s health.
Part of my newsletter, Broken Branches, PO Box 6094, Vermont South, Victoria, 3133 Australia.