Posts Tagged ‘Post-abortion syndrome’

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

This morning I attended a three-hour prayer service and Mass in Our Lady’s Chapel of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The day was jointly sponsored by Lumina and the Sisters of Life.

Archbishop Dolan began the day by admonishing those in attendance to respond with love to those who have not yet come to the truth. He recounted a recent conversation with an abortionist who told him that the pro-life movement is winning because we are changing hearts. That’s true. But after the Archbishop spoke, we heard from several with broken hearts.

The older couple whose daughter was ashamed to say she was pregnant so many years ago and aborted. The husband was particularly poignant when he lamented that his daughter felt she needed to be perfect before she could be loved by them.

The husband who was the one to suggest abortion to his wife. The shared loss of dignity. He stated that there were no words to say “I’m sorry” in a manner that could encompass what he suggested and what they had done.

The friend who let her best friend go ahead with abortion for fear of sounding judgmental and losing a friendship.

The mother who spoke more to her baby than to us, telling her how very sorry she was, how the baby is never far from her thoughts so many years later.

The abortionist whose voice cracked as he recounted having to have talked himself into distancing emotionally from what he’d been doing. The obvious burden he bears, rejoicing in God’s mercy, but unable to shake off all of those deaths at his hands.

And so they came and went, a heart-wrenching procession of what some might derisively dismiss as ‘statistical noise’, which is to say an artifact in the numbers.


In truth, the sorrow was almost unbearable.

As I sat there, I silently asked for God’s forgiveness that I am so late to the table. I was also inspired by each presenter’s witness to God’s mercy; “An ocean of mercy,” as one presenter put it. That’s the beauty of Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. We never stop proclaiming the love and mercy of our Father in Heaven, who is Love and Mercy. As I listened to the doctor speaking, I was struck by the thought that indeed God’s Love is infinitely greater than the worst sins of those among us.

It’s simply there for the asking. I thought of the older man lamenting how his daughter felt that she needed to be perfect in order to be loved by him. Now, if that man with all of his sins doesn’t require perfection as a precondition for love, how much less does God the Father expect us to do it all on our own before coming to Him? It’s impossible and even futile to try.

That was Jesus’ point in Matthew when He said, “If you with all of your sins know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks?”

Words to consider as we head into the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We ought not yield to despair over our particular failings, but drown them in the ocean of God’s Love and Mercy.

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Building on Part I and Part II of this series, further evidence of orthodoxies in science and how they close the door to inquiry and debate, to openness regarding truth.

First, Consider the American Psychiatric Association’s Official Position Statement on Abortion:

“The emotional consequences of unwanted pregnancy on parents and their offspring may lead to long-standing life distress and disability, and the children of unwanted pregnancies are at high risk for abuse, neglect, mental illness, and deprivation of the quality of life. Pregnancy that results from undue coercion, rape, or incest creates even greater potential distress or disability in the child and the parents. The adolescent most vulnerable to early pregnancy is the product of adverse sociocultural conditions involving poverty, discrimination, and family disorganization, and statistics indicate that the resulting pregnancy is laden with medical complications which threaten the well-being of mother and fetus. The delivery that ensues from teenage pregnancy is prone to prematurity and major threats to the health of mother and child, and the resulting newborns have a higher percentage of birth defects, developmental difficulties, and a poorer life and health expectancy than the average for our society. Such children are often not released for adoption and thus get caught in the web of foster care and welfare systems, possibly entering lifetimes of dependency and costly social interventions. The tendency of this pattern to pass from generation to generation is very marked and thus serves to perpetuate a cycle of social and educational failure, mental and physical illness, and serious delinquency.

Because of these considerations, and in the interest of public welfare, the American Psychiatric Association
1) opposes all constitutional amendments, legislation, and regulations curtailing family planning and abortion services to any segment of the population; 2) reaffirms its position that abortion is a medical procedure in which physicians should respect the patient’s right to freedom of choice – psychiatrists may be called on as consultants to the patient or physician in those cases in which the patient or physician requests such consultation to expand mutual appreciation of motivation and consequences; and 3) affirms that the freedom to act to interrupt pregnancy must be considered a mental health imperative with major social and mental health implications.”

One of the fundamental difficulties inherent in this position is the classification of abortion as a medical procedure. It assuredly is not, as medical procedures promote health and treat disease. Pregnancy is not a disease, and the APA has not put forward the health benefits from having an abortion.

APA also presents a non sequitur in characterizing teen pregnancy as, ” laden with medical complications which threaten the well-being of mother and fetus”. This is an antiquated statement, relying on the state of the art from 1978. Prenatal care has changed in 31 years. No mention of how abortion is any less fraught with “complications which threaten the well-being of the…fetus”.

How exactly can one publish data dealing with PAS, when the accrediting body of those doing the research declares its support for abortion in such unqualified terms? The answer may reside in this 2008 APA press release:

Statement of APA President Nada Stotland, M.D. on Abortion and Mental Health
(Arlington, VA – August 14, 2008) – A recently released report on mental health and abortion confirms the position of the American Psychiatric Association: abortion is not a risk to a woman’s mental health. APA President Nada Stotland, M.D., an expert on women’s mental health, made the following statement today:

“As we have known, there is no convincing evidence that abortion is a significant cause of psychiatric illness. We must distinguish illnesses from feelings. A woman may have many emotional reactions to an unwanted pregnancy and abortion – most commonly relief, but also sadness and a sense of loss. These feelings can coexist and, like feelings about any important life decision, they can vary over time. Negative feelings often stem from the circumstances that led the woman to terminate the pregnancy, such as an abusive relationship or a lack of social supports, or from the circumstances of the abortion itself such as demonstrators at an abortion facility. Women have abortions because they understand the importance of good mothering; they want to have wanted babies and to be able to give those babies what they need to grow up loved, healthy, and happy.

Each woman contemplating abortion has her own history, circumstances, and values; no one else can fully understand her individual situation. Every pregnant woman who is considering abortion has a right to accurate medical information about the risks and benefits of either continuing or terminating the pregnancy and to whatever medical and mental health care she wants and needs.

Decisions about reproductive health should be made between a woman, her family and her doctor. The best way to protect the mental health of women considering abortion is to ensure that they have accurate, unbiased information, receive good medical care, and are given support by family and friends whether they decide to continue or terminate their pregnancies.

The American Psychiatric Association opposes all constitutional amendments, legislation, and regulations restricting family planning and abortion services to any segment of the population.”

This more resembles an imperial pronouncement than a scientific statement. This statement begs the question: How can there be convincing evidence if the policy statement leaves one closed to contradictory evidence? Will The National Institutes of Mental Health fund such research? What reviewers will approve it? What journals will publish it? Few have been fortunate enough to get published, but have had their research dismissed at the level of the accrediting association.

Would that the APA put out a press release stating,

“As a scientific and medical body, the APA seeks to employ the state of the art technology in assessing the impact of abortion on women’s physical and mental health. The APA is committed to the discovery of truth, wherever that discovery may lead the Association, and believes that a full and honest regimen of pre-abortion counseling should include a detailed inventory of the physical and purported emotional/psychological risks to the patient, commensurate with such pre-surgical informed consent practices in other disciplines.”

As things stand, it sounds more like Planned Parenthood helped to draft APA’s position.

Later this week, consideration will be given in parts IV and V to APA’s cousin, the American Psychological Association and its position on PAS as scientific or anecdotal.

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