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...for visiting the Blog of the Nonviolent Choice Directory.

We feature commentary but most of all action alerts on the same positive, abortion-reducing measures we cover in the Directory.

These measures include post abortion healing; male responsibility; comprehensive sexual/reproductive health education; all voluntary pregnancy prevention methods, plus rape and incest prevention & treatment; and life-affirming ways to get through crisis pregnancy and beyond.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Abortion & Women's Mental Health

The PBS series "NOW" just broadcast a segment on abortion and women's mental health. It left me, personally, feeling saddened and frustrated by the injurious, counterproductive ways that both the prolife and prochoice movements treat this issue. (Precisely why the Nonviolent Choice Directory doesn't yet list any postabortion healing resources...still looking for and weighing the possibilities. Any ideas, anyone? Please share.)

  • On the prochoice side: The tendency to disbelieve, even dismiss or silence or disparage, women who themselves perceive and describe their abortions as devastating, violent losses...as if such women were by definition "babies," or pawns of the patriarchy, or hypocrites, or biters of the prochoice feminist hands that supposedly fed them their greatest & most foundational of rights (scapegoating, prochoice variant).
  • On the prolife side: The tendency to link post-abortion recovery programs to the attainment of specific, narrow religious or political outcomes that may not serve the healing processes of many women who seek healing--and (scapegoating, prolife variant) to cast abortion as an individual women's "personal sin," as if the abject failure of the larger society to support her (and her fetus, once conceived) with nonlethal options could not possibly have anything to do with the fact of the abortion.

Just as not all combatants react the same way to war, not all women who have abortions undergo a debilitating psychological crisis afterwards. On the other hand, again just like combat, abortion is not exactly fun for anybody. And I suspect that, just as with the mental health effects of war, the repercussions of abortion often go unrecognized and unhealed because the practice and scientific research on it are so embroiled in all sorts of political interests that fear, in their own different ways, for their own different reasons, the whole of the truth about it.

For so many women, of all kinds, to their own understanding, abortion is hell. Like war. And why shouldn't we listen to and and take them at their word--just like we should listen to and take deeply suffering combatants--the very people our collective failures and violations sent into battle-- at their word?

This doesn't in and of itself settle, of course, the ethics and law of abortion. But it counts. It counts a lot. Every story counts--including the ones that other people want least to hear, the ones that don't fit the established, rigid ideological parameters. Indeed, I'd venture: those are precisely the stories that have the most power to transform political and other human systems for the better.

From my vantage point, the question is not so much, "Whose side wins this one?"


  • What can we all do to ensure relief for the root causes of abortion, so that women (and their children) stop getting punished for our own failures of help and care?
  • What can we all do to best promote the healing of those for whom prevention is already too late?

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