General Information / History / Stats / Types

Nightmares of Choice: Psychological Effects of Performing Abortion (updated)

"I have fetus dreams, we all do here: dreams of abortions one after the other; of buckets of blood splashed on the walls; trees full of crawling fetuses," reported Sallie T. of her time as a nurse in an abortion center.

What is the emotional impact on abortion providers? Those who perform or assist in surgical abortions have written and said enough to show that it is no ordinary medical procedure.

Some, like Sallie, suffer nightmares. Others suffer many of the other symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), once called "shell shock" and "battle fatigue". The practice of medicine, of healing, should not give you nightmares, should not leave one shell-shocked.

Few studies have been done of the doctors, nurses, counselors, and other staff in abortion centers. Only 2 scientific studies that look at a large number of such providers have been done by researchers who did not work in the abortion field. These studies were conducted by M. Such-Baer, Social Casework in 1974, and by K.M. Roe in Social Science and Medicine in 1989.

Both studies were done by people in favor of legal abortion, yet they both note the high prevalence of symptoms that fit the condition now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The study published in 1974 noted that "obsessional thinking about abortion, depression, fatique, anger, lowered self-esteem, and identity conflicts were prominent."

The Roe study listed similar symptoms: "…behavior including withdrawal from colleagues, resistance to going to work, lack of energy, impatience with clients, and an overall sense of uneasiness. Nightmares, images that could not be shaken, and preoccupation were commonly reported. Also commonly noted was the deep and lonely privacy, within which practitioners had grappled with their ambivalence."

American Medical News, published by the AMA, reported that the discussions at a wrokshop of the Nationa Abortion Federation "illuminate a rarely heard side of the abortion debate: the conflicting feeling that plaque many providers…The notion that the nurses, doctors, counselors and others who work in the abortion field have qualms about the work they do is a well-kept secret. Among the stories:

A nurse who had worked in an abortion center for less than a year said her most troubling moments came not in the procedure room, but afterwards. "Many times women who had just had abortions would lie in the recovery room and cry, 'I've just killed my baby. I've just killed my bby.' I don't know what to say to these women," the nurse told the group. "Part of me thinks, 'Maybe they're right.'"

A doctor in New Mexico admitted that he was sometimes surprised by the anger a late-term abortion can arouse in him. On the one hand, the physician said, he is angry at the woman. "But paradoxically, I have angry feelings at myself for feeling good about grasping the calvaria (the top of the baby's head), for feeling good about doing a technically good procedure which destroys a fetus, kills a baby."

The largest published study involved interviews with 130 abortion workers in San Francisco between January 1984 and March 1985. "Particularly striking was the fact that discomfort with abortion clients or procedures was reported by practitioners who strongly supported abortion rights and expressed strong commitment to their work."

In response, researchers decided to "interview only practitioners who identified themselves as pro-choice and were committed to continuing their abortion work for at least six months."
Seventy-five percent of those brought up the theme of abortion as a destructive act, as destroying a living thing. As for murder: "This theme was unexpected among pro-choice practitioners, yet 18 percent of the respondents talked about involvement in abortion in this way at some point in the interview."

Even Sallie, who still believed in abortion, admitted the ambiguity of performing them. Abortion, she said, "is the narrowest edge between kindness and cruelty. Done as well as it can be, it is still violence-merciful violence, like putting a suffering animal to death…it is sweet brutality we practice here, a stark and loving dispassion."

The stress seems to grow as the unborm child develops. "As the pregnancy advances, the idea of abortion becomes more and more repugnant to a lot of people, medical personnel included," an abortion doctor named Don S. noted in a book that vigorously asserts the need for legal abortion.

Late-term abortions pose “an unusual dilemma”, said Warren Hern, an abortion specialist in a paper given to the Association of Planned Parenthood Physicians.

The doctors and nurses who do it have “strong personal reservations about participating in an operation which they view as destructive and violent.” He explained their reactions this way:

Some part of our cultural and perhaps even biological heritage recoils at a destructive operation on a form that is similar to our own, even while we may know that the act has a positive effect for a living person…We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denial or an act of destruction by the operator. It is before our eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current…The more we seem to solve the problem, the more intractable it becomes.”

But it is the practitioners’ dreams that may tell us most.

Many of those who stopped doing abortions because they became convinced that abortion was wrong reported dreaming about abortion.

American Medical News reported this from the National Abortion Federation workshop: “They (those who perform or help perform abortions) wonder if the fetus feels pain. They talk about the soul and where it goes. And about their dreams, in which aborted fetuses stare at them with ancient eyes and perfectly shaped hands and feet asking, ‘Why did you do this to me?’”

A paper presented to the Association of Planned Parenthood Physicians describes the dreams of 2 people who had dreamed “of vomiting fetuses along with a sense of horror”. “In general, it appears that the more direct the physical and visual involvement the more stress experienced. This is evident both in conscious stress and in unconscious manifestations such as dreams.”

Former abortion doctor McArthur Hill has told of how he would try to save premature babies and then find that the babies he’d aborted were bigger than the premature ones he had saves. “It was at this point that I began to have nightmares…”

Dr. Hill did, eventually, wake up to the reality of what he was doing.

If it is true that the practitioners’ nightmares and other symptoms result from their work, as the evidence suggests, there will be many other practitioners who will be driven by their dreams to listen to the voice of conscience and stop killing or helping to kill the unborn.

["Nightmares of Choice: The Psychological Effects of Performing Abortions", by Rachel M. MacNair, PhD, abridged from the original article published in Touchstone Magazine; MacNair is director of the Institute for Integrated Social Analysis, the research arm of Consistent Life, and author of Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing; 9/03; HLA Action News, Winter 2004]

 

 

 

An Abortionist's Nightmare  (en espanol tambien)
 
Dr. McArthur Hill used to kill babies for a living. Now he has repented. At a conference of former abortionists, he shared the nightmares he had:

"In my nightmares I would deliver a healthy newborn baby and I would take that healthy newborn baby and I would hold it up, and I would face a jury of faceless people and ask them to tell me what to do with this baby. They would go thumbs-up or thumbs-down and if they made a thumbs-down indication then I was to drop the baby into a bucket of water which was present. I never did reach the point of dropping the baby into the bucket because I'd always wake up at that point. But it was clear to me then that there was something going on in my mind, subconsciously."

I have helped abortionists make the transition from killing babies to repentance, and can attest that Dr. Hill's experience is not uncommon. In fact, his nightmare reveals some common aspects of the suffering of abortionists.

Notice, first of all, that Dr. Hill has in his hands a "healthy newborn baby." Abortions are done on healthy unborn babies, but in this nightmare, the doctor's conscience is reminding him that a baby is a baby, and that the lies of abortion propagandists who try to make the public think that abortion is only done for "health reasons" are exactly that – lies.

More significant still is the fact that the abortionist is holding the baby up in front of a group of people. What happened to the "private, personal" nature of abortion? Abortionists know better. It's a public industry, a public battle, and like it or not, the world has its eyes on them. They are committing that wrong which humanity itself, in the judgment of history, knows to be the same wrong that constitutes genocide and holocausts. Yes, this "private" act is really as public as can be.

The abortion propagandists try to paint this issue as "a woman's choice and hers alone." But the abortionist's nightmare tells us a different story. The mother is absent. It is society, represented by a jury of his peers, that is making the choice. This represents both the abortionist's resentment as well as his attempt to evade responsibility. "It's not that I favor killing babies," many abortionists will say. "It's that either I provide this service or someone else will do so, in a less professional way. Society has made this choice available, which is a good thing, but somebody has to carry it out."

Finally, the jury is "faceless." Of course it is. Nobody wants to claim responsibility for legal abortion. Legislators blame the courts; judges blame precedent; others blame the "law of the land."

It's time for the abortionists nightmare to wake us all up! Now is the time for us to put our own face on this issue, and claim responsibility to break through the faceless crowd and declare, "The killing stops here! I will no longer be silent!"
[Frank Pavone, 24Aug07]

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La pesadilla de un abortero

El Dr. McArthur Hill se ganaba la vida matando niños. Ahora se ha arrepentido. Durante una conferencia de ex-aborteros, narró sus pesadillas:

"En mis pesadillas asistía al nacimiento de un bebé sano, tomaba a ese bebé sano y lo levantaba, después miraba a un jurado de gente sin rostro a quienes les pedía que me dijeran lo que tenía que hacer con el niño. Ellos hacían un gesto con los pulgares hacia arriba o hacia abajo y si señalaban hacia abajo con el pulgar entonces debía arrojar al bebé en un balde de agua que se encontraba allí mismo. Nunca llegué a tirar al bebé en el balde porque en ese momento siempre me despertaba. Sin embargo, para mi era obvio que algo estaba pasando en mi mente, de manera subconsciente."

He ayudado a muchos aborteros a hacer la transición del asesinato de bebés al arrepentimiento y puedo dar fe que la experiencia del Dr. Hill no es infrecuente. De hecho, su pesadilla revela algunos aspectos comunes del sufrimiento de los aborteros.

En primer lugar, observen que el Dr. Hill tiene en sus manos un niño recién nacido "sano." Los abortos se practican a niños sanos que van a nacer, pero en esta pesadilla la conciencia del doctor le está recordando que un bebé es un bebé y que las mentiras de la propaganda pro-aborto que quieren hacer creer al público que el aborto se practica solamente por "razones de salud" son exactamente eso: mentiras.

Más significativo aún es el hecho que el abortero muestra el bebé a un grupo de gente. ?Que pasó con la naturaleza "privada y personal" del aborto? Los abortistas lo saben. Es una industria pública, una batalla pública y aunque no les guste, el mundo los está mirando. Están cometiendo actos malos que la humanidad misma, en el juicio de la historia, considera igualmente malos que el genocidio y los holocaustos. Así es, este acto "privado" es en realidad algo público.

Los propagandistas del aborto quieren presentar esta cuestión como "la elección de una mujer y nada más." Pero la pesadilla del abortero cuenta una historia diferente. La madre está ausente. Es la sociedad representada por un jurado de pares, la que está haciendo la elección. Esto representa tanto el resentimiento del abortero como su intento de evadir la responsabilidad que le cabe. "No es que yo esté a favor del asesinato de bebés," dicen muchos abortistas. "Se trata simplemente de proveer un servicio que si yo no lo presto, algún otro prestará con menos profesionalismo. La sociedad ha dispuesto que esta elecci?n esté disponible, y eso es bueno, pero alguien tiene que hacerlo."

Finalmente, el jurado "no tiene rostro." ?Por supuesto! Nadie quiere hacerse cargo del aborto legal. L

os legisladores le echan la culpa a las cortes, los jueces a la jurisprudencia, otros señalan a la "ley de la nación."

¡Es hora de que las pesadillas de los aborteros nos despierten a todos! Este es el momento de poner nuestro propio rostro en esta cuestión y asumir la responsabilidad que nos toca, saliendo de la multitud sin rostro para proclamar: ¡Hasta aquí llegó el asesinato! ¡De ahora en adelante no callaré!