Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.
Trauma, if not dealt with, will manifest itself in the most negative of ways. Hence, the trauma of abortion, if not dealt with, will wreak havoc on a woman and consequently on much of society. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or what is often called Post Abortion Trauma/Syndrome is common. Thirsty-six percent of women who have had an abortion will suffer from sleep disorders, 31% will suffer regrets, 11% will be prescribed psychotropic medications, and 44% suffer some other sort of nervous disorder associated with PTSD.
Women who have had abortions often seek to deal with the pain in essentially four manners: through suppression, repression, rationalization, and/or compensation.
Women who seek to suppress the trauma of abortion consciously push away or push down any negative feelings. They do everything possible not to think about the abortion or its trauma. These are women who often turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain, or become workaholics to keep busy and distracted, or avoid prayer, church, and God. It is not unusual to notice a person get up and walk out of church when the very word abortion is mentioned. They are not being disrespectful. They are simply avoiding a reminder of their trauma.
In the most extreme cases, women who suppress their pain will often have more than one abortion (three to ten is not unusual) with the hope that each abortion will lessen the trauma (forty-five percent of women who have had an abortion, will have more than one). The mentality is: “The more I have, the less it will hurt.”
Women who repress the trauma of abortion do so without any conscious awareness. Repression is a subconscious defense mechanism where the mind blocks out any negativity. These repressed feelings manifest themselves through an inability to bond with their husbands or children and an inability to form deep relationships. They don’t want to be hurt by the possibility of any future losses, so they hold back!
Rationalization is an argument that one makes to justify one’s action as acceptable. It is marked with intolerance, anger, and hatred.
The rationalization of many women who have had an abortion is that “if it is legal, it must be okay.” Therefore, any threat to the legal status of abortion is a threat to their coping with the trauma. They rationalize: “If abortion is made illegal, then what I did was wrong.” Hence, the anger and fervor to prevent any changes in any manner to abortion laws. This is the same rationalization that is behind the efforts to eliminate the “Choose Life” plates in many states. These plates are a threat to the legal status of abortion. If it is illegal, it must be wrong! Since in 95% percent of all abortions the man plays a central role in the decision, men are often the most vocal in keeping abortion legal.
Compensation is a coping mechanism that seeks to “make up” for past mistakes. Often women feel they must be punished in order to compensate for the evil of their abortion. This manifests itself in self-mutilation, attempted suicides, anorexia, bulimia, and a wide range of self-punishing behaviors.
This compensation mechanism is often seen in what is known as the “perfect mother syndrome.” Mothers often try to make up for what they did to their first child by trying to be the perfect mother for their subsequent children.
They can often become doting and controlling parents in their efforts to make everything perfect.
The reality of post-abortion trauma and its manifestation can in no way be completely described in such a short essay. Book after book has been written about this subject. But my hope is simply to illustrate one small portion of the damage that is done to women in the name of abortion and so-called women’s rights.
Let us make no mistake about it. Those who support abortion have no love for women. In 95% percent of all abortions the man plays a central role in the decision.
cf. Theresa Burke, Ph.D., Forbidden Grief, 2002. Those seeking healing may seek their local Rachel’s Vineyard or Project Rachel support group.