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Post-Abortion Syndrome:

Who are vulnerable? Federal Government
inaction. Lack of comprehensive research.

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Sponsored link.

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Who are most susceptible to Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS)?

The authors of the Planned Parenthood information sheet on PAS examined 50 studies from around the world that measured negative emotional reactions to abortion. 1 They found that the women most at risk are those who:

bullet Are emotionally unstable, with unstable living conditions.

bullet Felt pressure to have an abortion from their partners or parents.

bullet Chose an abortion because of a genetic problem with the fetus.

bullet Had an abortion after the first trimester. In the U.S. and Canada this occurs in about 10% of the abortions.

bullet Had strong religious beliefs against abortion.

Ohio Right to Life describes a survey taken among women who have had abortions, and later were sufficiently distressed by the experience to join a support group: "Women Exploited by Abortion" (WEBA). 2 The survey was conducted by David Reardon. 3 It involved 252 women contacted via WEBA chapters throughout the United States. The survey organizers made no attempt obtain a random sampling of women. Rather, they collected data from women who felt "exploited by abortion." Thus, the results are probably not representative of all women who have had an abortion.

Some of the factors reported by the women in the survey were:

bullet 90% were not given information on the biological nature of the fetus.

bullet 84% felt that the clinic/doctor/counselor very unhelpful in exploring options.

bullet 74% felt that her personal decision to have an abortion was not well thought out.

bullet 73% felt strongly that information was lacking or misinformation given.

bullet 69% felt very rushed.

bullet 65% felt that she was very much out of control of her life at the time.

bullet 58% had an annual income less than $10,000.

bullet 54% felt "very much" forced by outside circumstances to have the abortion.

bullet 51% took 4 or fewer days to decide whether to have an abortion.

bullet 47% reported physical complications (vs. 0.06% reported for all abortions in Michigan during 1995).

bullet 26% felt at the time of the abortion that the fetus was not a person.

bullet 97% currently feel that the fetus was human when the abortion was performed.

bullet 19% were 13 or more weeks into their pregnancy (twice today's average).

bullet 18% reported permanent physical damage.

These indicators may point to the need for a woman to:

bullet Confirm pregnancy as early as possible,

bullet Carefully consider her beliefs about the personhood of the embryo or fetus.

bullet Study of all of her options, and

bullet Arrive at a careful decision, based on full and accurate information.

However, of these precautions may be inadequate to prevent guilt and depression if the woman changes her beliefs after the abortion, and concludes that the life that was terminated was that of a human person rather than a potential human person.

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Actions by the Federal Government:

  • In 1887, President Ronald Reagan asked the Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to investigate the health dimension of abortion. Dr. Koop responded in 1988 that the evidence for risk of significant emotional problems after abortion was "minuscule."

  • During 2001-NOV, the U.S. Senate passed amendment 2085 which was sponsored by Senator Bob Smith (R-NH). It was attached to the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services' funding bill. If the bill had become law, it would have called upon the National Institutes of Health to "expand and intensify research and related activities... with respect to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis." Representative Joe Pitts, (R-PA) introduced a bill in the House that would fund such a study. 4 They did not proceed.

  • Senator Smith also introduced S. 2271 on 2002-APR-25. It is called the Post Abortion Support and Services Act of 2002. If passed, it would have funded a study of the physical and emotional repercussions of abortion. It did not proceed. 5

  • During 2004-JUN, Representative Joseph Pitts (R-PA) introduced H.R. 4543, a bill to provide for research on and services for individuals with post-abortion depression and psychosis. Its short title was: "Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act." It called for the National Institute of Mental Health to "...expand and intensify research and related activities....with respect to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis .... referred to as 'post-abortion conditions'." The bill had a total of 32 sponsors, all Republicans. A hearing in the House was conducted on 2004-SEP-29. 6,7 No action was taken; the bill died. 

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Lack of comprehensive research on "PAS" / "PASS":

PAS/PASS has become a political hot potato. The PASS Awareness web site concludes that PAS is not accepted as an actual disorder by the medical community because of lack of information. Information comes from research. Money for research mainly comes from pharmaceutical companies. However, these companies are very reluctant to become involved because they may be the victims of:

"... protests and boycotts from both sides of the abortion war, regardless of how their research turns out...The prochoice majority says PASS 'does not exist', and that anti-abortionists are using it to try and scare women away from abortion, and to try to influence lawmakers that abortion is dangerous. The prolifers agree that PASS exists, but they use it (as the prochoicers fear) as a way to discourage abortion, and as a way to help revoke abortion rights. The woman who is suffering is left alone, as the two sides argue, and the medical community stays out of it." 8

There may be some truth in the PASS Awareness statement. Both the pro-choice and pro-life movements probably have sufficient political power to urge federal government funding for a comprehensive study of PAS. However, neither group seems to be doing this. They might both consider the current lack of knowledge to be in their group's best interests.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

    1. Planned Parenthood has an information sheet on "Post-traumatic Abortion Syndrome." See: http://www.igc.apc.org/
    2. Ohio Right to Life, "A Survey of Aborted Women" at: http://www.pregnantpause.org/
    3. David Reardon, "Aborted Women: Silent No More," Crossway Books, Westchester IL, (1987)
    4. Charles R. MiVille, "Senate Recognizes Post-Abortion Syndrome," Focus on the Family at: http://www.family.org/
    5. "Post-abortion support and services act," at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
    6. "PMDD 'real,' and PASS not? 'It's the politics and money'...", Pass Awareness, at: http://www.afterabortion.com/
    7. "Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act," Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis, 108th Congress, at: http://olpa.od.nih.gov/
    8. "Legislation to Provide for Research On, and Services for Individuals With, Post-Abortion Depression and Psychosis," Family Research Council, at: http://www.frc.org/
    9. Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Looking beyond choice," National Review, 2001-NOV-07, at: http://old.nationalreview.com/

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    Copyright © 1998 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
    Latest update: 2010-OCT-10
    Author: B.A. Robinson

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