The Reality of Post-Abortion Syndrome

Ava Torre-Bueno, a former counselor at Planned Parenthood, is the author or Peace After Abortion. In a site promoting her book (, she also provides resources for women who have had abortions but are not at peace regarding their decision -- a condition now termed Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS).

Torre-Bueno writes: "I believe passionately that I can be supportive of every woman's right to make her own pregnancy decisions, and still recognize the fact that her decision may cause her significant suffering." Not a real problem solver. In fact, Torre-Bueno is anxious for women to recognize excuses for why they were burdened with unwanted pregnancies. Perfectly justifiable reasons to terminate a pregnancy include:

Reading her site closely, it becomes clear she's suggesting that PAS doesn't really exist, and that other psychological factors affect a woman's ability to cope after an abortion. Still others have been critical of the concept of PAS as just so much psycho-babble. One member of our audience wrote to say that PAS sounds like a convenient "medical" excuse for someone not willing to take responsibility for her actions. But from another perspective, PAS may be seen as the result of women finally taking responsibility for a terrible "choice" they once made. A combination of grief over the loss of what these women now recognize to be real, human children, and the stress of living with conflicting messages from society [children are precious, yet it's OK to kill them before they're born] may serve as a brief description of PAS, but our February Rightgrrl, Vincenza Carter, offers a more personal, first-hand explanation.

What is Post-Abortion Syndrome?
by Vincenza Carter

Studies by both pro-life and pro-choice groups have shown that the initial impact an abortion has on a woman is one of relief.

Pro-choice studies, though, often fail to follow up on their research beyond the first few months following the abortion. It is usually later on in the woman's life that she begins to feel the grief and pain that her actions have caused. In the first few weeks following an abortion, a woman's mind is usually focused on the relief that her 'problem' has been solved. Later, sometimes with in the year, sometimes not for five to ten years, she begins to experience various forms of post-abortion fall-out: i.e., depression on the anniversary date of the abortion; depression on what would have been the child's birth date; auditory hallucinations of a baby crying; or, vivid dreams of a child in danger.

And according to studies done by the Elliot Institute's Dr.David Reardon, there is a time when the full impact of what a woman has done hits her. Not only is there psychological damage to the mothers themselves, but to children born subsequent to a previous abortion. Women have reported being unable to bond with the living children in a way that is expected. In many cases there is a marked negligence or even over protectiveness. In the extreme cases, child abuse is seen.

How those who support abortion on demand can continue to deny the existence of post-abortion syndrome (PAS), is an easily answered question. If it can be proven that an abortion hurts the mother as well as the child, then the claim that "abortion helps women" becomes a lie. The last thing the choice camp wants us to know is that, from conception, the fate of the mother is so intertwined with that of the child, that hurting one will automatically hurt the other.

On a purely physical level, the mother's body begins to prepare for the birth of this child, from the moment of conception. To terminate the pregnancy abruptly, throws the entire hormonal system of the woman into disarray. It is for this reason that many believe that abortion leads to an increased risk for female cancer.

On the psychological level, no matter how the woman may say she feels about her pregnancy, there is a bond that begins to form. Few women truly believe that the fetus is nothing more that a lump of tissue with no identity. To admit, even in the back of her mind, that she is carrying a baby, is to admit that an abortion would kill her child. Again, while relief may be the first reaction to the abortion, sooner or later the woman is going to start feeling the guilt and pain of being a party to the death of her child.

A question for those who deny that PAS exists: If a woman cannot feel pain and grief for the death of her child due to an abortion, then why do we assume she feels pain and grief due to a naturally occurring miscarriage, taking place at the same point in the pregnancy? In either case a child is dead, but due to abortion, the mother must face the fact that her child is dead by her own "choice." Women who have lost a baby due to miscarriage have been known to bear a sense of responsibility, questioning their every action as a possible cause of death. How much worse would this self-scrutiny manifest in a woman who did cause the death of her child?

Having aborted three of my children, I am a victim of the lie that the choice camp offers. Thanks to a group called Project Rachel, I am recovering from my feelings of guilt and shame, but I will never stop grieving for my children, and for what might have been. To explain my pain away by suggesting that there were other psychological factors in place before my abortions is to deny me the right to regret my decision. It also denies the humanity of my children, by saying that they were not worthy of grief in their own right. I don't care how many degrees or years of education a person has, I will allow no one to attack my rights or those of my children in that manner.

If you are hurting in any way from the effects of an abortion, please seek out the help of those who understand. You do have the right to grieve for your child. You also have the right to heal.

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