Seattle Post-Intelligencer (US), July 9, 2007
By SARAH PRAGER
Post-abortion syndrome doesn't exist. You won't find a scientific or medical description of it anywhere because it is not real ("Proponents of grief syndrome add fuel to the debate," July 2).
There is a large body of medical literature proving that the majority of women who have abortions suffer no negative medical or psychological consequences. On the contrary, most women are extremely grateful that the option of abortion is available to them. Choosing to end a pregnancy in abortion is not a decision that comes lightly to any woman, but it may very well be the best decision she can make for herself, and her current or future family.
In fact, abortion is far more likely to alleviate a woman's psychological angst than it is to cause it. Research by the American Psychological Association supports that claim, finding that 76 percent of women report feeling relief after abortion while only 17 percent report feelings of guilt.
Most people feel best about their decisions when they are presented all their options and are able to freely make a choice as to what is right for them. Pregnant women who make informed decisions about abortion are no different, and usually feel just fine about their choice.
Abortion is a difficult and divisive issue in our society, and it is attacked from all sides -- by the media, by politics, by the Supreme Court and by many people who are uninformed about the realities of unplanned pregnancy and abortion.
Abortion does not cause women to sink into despair or suffer long-term psychological problems. There are always going to be a few women who regret their decision, just as women (and men) regret other decisions that are made. And there are many who may feel sadness or grief about their decision, while still knowing it is the right decision for them to make at that time.
However, that does not translate into a syndrome that is given more credence than it even deserves by being given equal attention in this article. When there are two balanced sides of an argument, they deserve equal coverage. In this case, the weight is on the side of extensive research, which has shown repeatedly that the syndrome doesn't exist.
There are 1.3 million abortions performed every year in this country and one in four American women has at least one abortion while reproductively active. For the most part, those women continue to lead their lives without suffering from that decision.
Sarah Prager is an obstetrician/gynecologist in Seattle.
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