When a woman has a child, it is common to experience some degree of post-partum depression. Many people today assume that this is a normal part of pregnancy. When a pregnancy ends in abortion, there is no expectation of post-abortive syndrome. The National Abortion Federation goes as far as to explain that women seem to experience no suffering afterward and higher levels of stress before having an abortion (abortion myths, n.d., para. 2-4). Two ministries who argue that post-abortive syndrome is just as valid as post-partum depression are Silent No More and Rachael’s Vineyard. They have also found that women who have a history of sexual abuse are higher risk for Post-Abortive syndrome. Concealing abuse in society creates higher risk for women to have abortions, and Planned Parenthood should be more involved in helping prevent abortion by acknowledging abuse.
Neglecting the reality of abuse is not a new phenomenon for whatever reason. In the book, Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History, Lynn Sacco traces the history of incest in America through medical records young girls diagnosed with gonorrhea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many people today are unaware that in “1927 the American Journal of Diseases of Children ranked gonorrhea vulvovaginitis the second most common contagious disease after measles, among children” (Sacco, 2009, p.90-91). Sacco explains “health care professionals named poor sanitation and housekeeping as the source of disease and blamed mothers or other girls, not father or other men, for their daughters’ illness” (2009, p. 121). Later, the presence of gonorrhea was solved through the introduction of antibiotics. The plight of young girls being sexually assaulted was still concealed.
More recently, a study was conducted specifically investigating the relationship between sexual assault and abortion by Theresa Burke, Ph.D. founder of Rachael’s Vineyard, an agency that works with women who have had abortions. In her book Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, she states “It has been my experience that a high proportion of women suffering post-abortion trauma also have histories of molestation, sexual abuse, or incest (Burke and Reardon, 2002, p. 2).
In 2010, the University of Iowa published a study investigating a link between abuse and abortion. The study revealed “almost 14 percent of women receiving an abortion reported at least one incident of physical or sexual abuse in the past year"(as cited by Ertelt, 2010, para.4). Based on their findings, one in 10 women is at higher risk for Post-Abortive Syndrome as a result of prior abuse. Janet Morana, co-founder of the organization Silent No More commented, "A Planned Parenthood official who participated in this Iowa study admits that her organization has not been asking women about any abuse they’ve suffered” (as cited by Ertelt, 2010, para. 13).
Although an official from Planned Parenthood admits to not asking women about abuse, clients have continued to share their experiences in consultations prior to having an abortion. Repeatedly, Planned Parenthood has come under fire as a result of neglecting to report abuse. Americans United for Life lists serious allegations against Planned Parenthood:
In 1998, a 13-year-old girl was raped by her 23-year-old foster brother. He later took the young girl to Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona (PPCNA) for an abortion, and the clinic subsequently failed to notify authorities about the sexual abuse… In 2007, Denise Fairbanks filed suit against Planned Parenthood alleging that it had violated Ohio law by failing to report her sexual abuse. Fairbanks, whose father had sexually abused her for four years, became pregnant at age 16. Her father brought her to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion. Although she informed Planned Parenthood employees that the she was being sexually abused by her father, they ignored state law and failed to report the abuse, allowing it to continue for another year and a half. (Memorandum, n.d., p. 4).
These are extremely serious accusations to consider for those favoring either side of the argument.
It would seem logical that either girl in the above examples would experience some degree of Post Abortive syndrome; however, it is still unrecognized as a medical condition. The National Abortion Federation states “that the studies with the most scientifically rigorous research designs consistently found no trace of "post-abortion syndrome" and furthermore, that no such syndrome is scientifically or medically recognized (abortion myths, n.d., para. 2).
The myth of Post Abortive syndrome might be the result of society’s deeper reluctance to acknowledge that the abuse of women exists in society. Plenty of evidence exists today to prove there is a relationship between abuse and post-abortive syndrome. Neglecting this creates higher risk for women to have an abortion and experience post-abortive syndrome. Exposing abuse reduces the risk for abortion and Planned Parenthood should be required to more actively help victims of abuse.
Americans United For Life. (n.d.). Memorandum. Retrieved from http://www.aul.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Memorandum-on-PP-Investigations-_2_.pdf
Burke, T., Reardon, D. (n.d.). Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion. Retrieved from http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/myths/post_abortion_syndrome.html
Ertelt, S. (2010). New Study Shows Link Between Abortion and Physical, Sexual Abuse by Women’s Partners. LifeNews.Com. Retrieved from http://www.lifenews.com/2010/06/25/nat-6463/
National Abortion Federation. (n.d.). Abortion Myths: Post-Abortion Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/myths/post_abortion_syndrome.html
Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). Health Info and Services. Retrieved from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion-4260.asp
Sacco, L (2009). Unspeakable: Father-Daughter Incest in American History. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.