Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths

“How can you deny an abortion to a twelve-year-old girl who is the victim of incest?” Typically, people on both sides of the abortion debate accept the premise that most women who become pregnant through sexual assault want abortions. From this “fact,” it naturally follows that the reason women want abortions in these cases is because it will help them to put the assault behind them, recover more quickly, and avoid the additional trauma of giving birth to a “rapist’s child.” But in fact, the welfare of a mother and her child are never at odds, even in sexual assault cases. As the stories of many women confirm, both the mother and the child are helped by preserving life, not by perpetuating violence. Sadly, however, the testimonies of women who have actually been pregnant through sexual assault are routinely left out of this public debate. Many people, including sexual assault victims who have never been pregnant, may be forming opinions based on their own prejudices and fears rather than the real life experiences of those people who have been in this difficult situation and reality. For example, it is commonly assumed that rape victims who become pregnant would naturally want abortions. But in the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done prior to this book, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent did not have abortions. This figure is remarkably similar to the 73 percent birth rate found in our sample of 164 pregnant rape victims. This one finding alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or...

Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion (1977 – 1990)

Several older studies are briefly described below. They are posted on this website in an effort to show how much information and research have been available – and ignored – for decades.   Detrimental Effects of Adolescent Abortion  It is of particular importance to identify abortion risk factors in adolescents not only for counseling and public policy reasons, but also to assist judges to determine whether or not an abortion may be in the "best interests" of an adolescent. Over one-fourth of the abortions in the U.S. are performed on women under 20 years of age, yet few studies compare adolescents with adults in their ability to cope with abortion. Campbell, Franco and Jurs (1988) in a study at the Medical College of Ohio compared 35 women who had their abortions as teenagers with 36 women who had abortions after the age of 20. They found that teenagers were significantly more likely to report marital difficulties in their family of origin, to attempt suicide after abortion, to have severe nightmares following abortion, and to be less likely to report being coerced into abortion. In addition, the adolescents had significantly higher scores on scales measuring antisocial traits, paranoia, drug abuse, and psychotic delusions. The authors concluded that adolescents are more likely to use immature defenses such as projection, denial or "acting out" after abortion and that these immature coping defenses might become permanent. Barglow and Weinstein (1973) observed the effects of abortion in adolescents compared with adults and concluded that two major factors distinguish the adolescent emotional response to abortion. First, the abortion decision is more often controlled by parents,...

Induced Abortion and Traumatic Stress: Preliminary Comparison of American, Russian women (MSM,11/04)

Trauma Symptoms After Abortion Are Common Post-traumatic reactions to induced abortion may be far more common than previously thought, according to a study published in the Medical Science Monitor. Sixty-five percent of American women studied experienced multiple symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which they attributed to their abortions. Slightly over 14 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion induced PTSD. Researchers gathered data from women seeking general health care treatment at clinics and hospitals in both the United States and Russia. Women with a history of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage or abortion, were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences. The sub-sample used in this study included 331 Russian women and 217 American women. American women were significantly more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their abortions, while Russian women were more likely to report disruption of cognitive schema, which is described as the equivalent of one's "psychological road map" for understanding the world and one's place in it. Both Russian and American women were more likely to experience negative reactions to abortion if they had prior negative opinions of abortion, felt pressured into unwanted abortions, were more religious, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion. American women were more likely to report being exposed to one or more of these risk factors. For example, 64 percent of American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian women. In addition, only 25 percent of American women reported receiving adequate counseling prior to their abortions compared to 64 percent of the...

I Will Never Forget You

…Abortion is a deeply traumatic experience and was so for me back in 1989.  When I was in my crisis, my mother was gravely ill.  I had no one to turn to, and those I did reach out to all said abortion was the best choice.  I chose abortion because I felt it was my only choice, which means I had no choice.  I went against everything that I believed in thinking it would spare my mother in her fragile condition. To this day, I do not remember the actual taking of my child’s life. It was so traumatic that I left my body.  Afterward, I remember thinking that now I had to pretend nothing happened and that I was fine, when in reality something horrific had happened and I was not fine. I was forever changed. In order to continue to function and survive this trauma, I did what most all women do–enter the phase of denial.  Women literally go through a time of forgetting the child within her womb; it was tissue, it was a blood clot and it was not yet a child. This denial may last for ten, twenty and even many more years.  Denial often manifests itself in many seeming unrelated ways, such as panic attacks, nightmares, difficulty in relationships, suicidal tendencies, start of or increase of drug and alcohol use and abuse and also reenactment in the form of repeat abortions.  These are all symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome. The walls of my denial started to crumble and fall after my mother died in 1994.  I started to cry and just couldn’t stop. ...

November 2004: Abortion

Trauma Symptoms After Abortion Common – Women Attribute Substance Abuse, Sexual Disorders, and Suicidal Thoughts to Abortion  Abortion Linked to Later Anxiety Problems – Women Who Give Birth after “Unintended Pregnancies” Do Better Abortion Advocates Trivialize Emotional Problems After Abortion Pro-Life Right of Conscience Legislation Victory, Plus More For more abortion information, click “Abortion” in the side menu. TRAUMA SYMPTOMS AFTER ABORTION COMMON, Women Attribute Substance Abuse, Sexual Disorders, and Suicidal Thoughts to Abortion  — Post-traumatic reactions to induced abortion may be far more common than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Medical Science Monitor. Sixty-five percent of American women studied experienced multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which they attributed to their abortions. Slightly over 14 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion induced PTSD. Researchers gathered data from women seeking general health care treatment at clinics and hospitals in both the USA and Russia. Women with a history of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage or abortion, were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences. The subsample used in this study included 331 Russian women and 217 American women. American women were significantly more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their abortions, while Russian women were more likely to report disruption of cognitive schema, which is described as the equivalent of one’s “psychological road map” for understanding the world and one’s place in it. Both Russian and American women were more likely to experience negative reactions to abortion if they had prior negative opinions of abortion, felt pressured into unwanted abortions, were more religious, or received little or...