Skip to content

Abortion and Depression (Part 2 of 2)

Interview With Theresa Burke of Rachel's Vineyard

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania, MARCH 4, 2006 (Zenit) - Depression over a past abortion is an often hidden and ignored link that needs to be addressed, says a counselor who deals with post-abortion trauma.

In the second part of this interview with us, Theresa Burke, founder of the Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, explains how depression is a natural effect of abortion that may erupt years later.

Rachel's Vineyard organizes weekend retreats for those struggling with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion.

Q: What are the risks of depression stemming from the guilt of an abortion?

Burke: Because abortion is legal, it is presumed to be safe. Indeed, it is commonly identified as a woman's "right."

This right, or privilege, is supposed to liberate women from the burden of unwanted pregnancies. It is supposed to provide them with relief -- not grief and depression.

One of the big problems is that when women are assaulted by their own natural reactions to their loss, they don't understand what is wrong with them.

Many women go into treatment for depression, anxiety, or addictions, but simply don't understand the roots of their illness. In many cases they are drugged and diagnosed but never led on a path to healing and recovery.

Unresolved memories and feelings about the abortion become sources of pressure that may erupt years later in unexpected ways. Unresolved emotions will demand one's attention sooner or later, often through the development of subsequent emotional or behavioral disturbances.

Professor David Fergusson, a researcher at Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand, wanted to prove that abortion doesn't have any psychological consequences.

He was surprised to find that women who have had abortions were one-and-a-half times more likely to suffer mental illness, and two to three times more likely to abuse alcohol and/or drugs.

Fergusson followed 500 women from birth to age 25. "Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems, including depression (46% increase), anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders," reads the research published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

Abortion is in fact responsible for a profound array of problems:

-- a 160% increase in rates of suicide in the U.S., according to the Archives of Women's Mental Health, in 2001;

-- a 225% increase in rates of suicide in Britain, according to the British Medical Journal, in 1997;

-- a 546% increase in rates of suicide in Finland, according to the Acta Obstetrica et Gynecologica Scandinavica, in 1997.

In total, the average boosted suicide risk of these three studies is 310%!

This high suicide rate following abortion clearly disproves the myth that termination of a pregnancy is safer than childbirth.

The best record-based study linking psychiatric admission rates following abortion reveals that in the four years following pregnancy outcome, women who abort are two to four times more likely to be admitted for psychiatric hospitalization than women who carry to term.

Another record-based study reveals that even four years after abortion the psychiatric admission rate remained 67% higher than for those women who did not have abortions.

Aborting women were more likely to be diagnosed with adjustment reactions, depressive psychosis and neurotic and bipolar disorders, according to the Archives of Women's Mental Health, in 2001.

The risk for postpartum depression and psychosis during later wanted births is also linked to previous abortion.

An average of eight years after their abortions, married women were 138% more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term. This is according to the British Medical Journal of January 19, 2002.

In the category of drug and alcohol abuse, we see many women trying to cope with their inner conflict and grief through a 4.5 times higher risk of substance abuse following abortion.

And this is only based on those who are reporting substance abuse. Think of all those who think that drinking eight glasses of wine each night is simply a way to "unwind." This aspect was reported in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, in 2000.

The results of the first international long-term, follow-up study led by Dr. Vincent Rue reveals overwhelming evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Statistics collected in America reveal the following:

-- 55% of those who had abortions report nightmares and preoccupation with abortion;

-- 73% describe flashbacks;

-- 58% of women report suicidal thoughts which they relate directly to their abortions;
-- 68% reveal that they feel badly about themselves;

-- 79% report guilt, with an inability to forgive themselves;

-- 63% have fears regarding future pregnancies and parenting;

-- 49% have problems being near babies;

-- 67% describe themselves as "emotionally numb."

An exhaustive review of many other studies and certainly clinical experience indicates that for many women, the onset of sexual dysfunctions and eating disorders, increased smoking, panic and anxiety disorders, and an addiction to abusive relationships became the souvenir coping styles which followed their experience with abortion.

Q: Is there a scientific or political reason for not wanting to study a possible link abortion with depression, which has kept the research from taking place?

Burke: As a society, we know how to debate about abortion as a political issue but we don't know how to talk about it on an intimate and personal level.

There is no social norm for dealing with an abortion. Instead, we all try to ignore it.

One of the reasons we don't want to talk about the grief of women and men who have had abortions is that we, as a society, are deeply troubled by the abortion issue. While the vast majority believes that abortion should be legally available in some circumstances, most are also morally troubled by it.

According to one major poll, 77% of the public believes abortion is the taking of a human life, with 49% equating it with murder.

Only 16% claimed to believe that abortion is only "a surgical procedure for removing human tissue."

Even one-third of those who describe themselves as most strongly pro-choice will still admit to believing that abortion is the taking of a human life. This is reported by James Davison Hunter in his 1994 book "Before the Shooting Begins: Searching for Democracy in America's Cultural War."

These findings suggest that most Americans put their own moral beliefs about abortion "on hold" for the sake of respecting a "woman's right to choose."

As a society we have chosen to tolerate the deaths of unborn children for the purpose of improving the lives of women.

This moral compromise, however, is disturbed when women complain about their broken hearts after an abortion. They make their listeners uncomfortable and confused.

Depression over a past abortion forces us to look not only at the pain of an individual, but the angst of our society. It is a deeply complex and troubling issue. Most of us don't want to look too deeply.

Pro-choice advocates are often hesitant to recognize the reality of post-abortion grief because they fear this may somehow undermine the political argument for legal abortion.

Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, most abortion counselors will tell women that psychological reactions to abortion are rare or even nonexistent. Anything that might arouse discomfort or uneasiness is avoided.

Such facts, they fear, might "persuade her to withhold her consent to the abortion."

In essence, the choice is made for her as they protect her from any information that might dissuade her opinion.

The collusion of ignorance and denial perpetrates abuse and negligence against women, facilitating the potential for deep and scarring trauma.

Q: Do you think this will be a deterrent for women considering abortion to know the possibility of depression lies beyond the abortion?

Burke: I hope so. Women have a right to know the risks they face when making an elective decision for abortion.

Any drug or medical procedure we "choose" to take is required by law to have informed consent. This means that we know what is involved, what the procedure is, and what the short- and long-term risks are. This is critical information.

In light of the disturbing statistics regarding mental health risks, the increased risk in breast cancer, etc., it is obvious that restraints and regulations are necessary for the protection of women's reproductive and psychological health.

More importantly, I believe that women and men who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion need to know that there is hope and healing. They need to know that they are not alone.

In 1989, a panel of experts assembled by the American Psychological Association concluded unanimously that legal abortion "does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedure."

The panel noted that if severe emotional reactions were common there would be an epidemic of women seeking psychological treatment. The panel stated that there is no evidence of such an epidemic. Since 1989, there has been no significant change in this point of view.

It seems obvious they have not been following the growth of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries!

In 2006 our organization will provide 450 weekend retreats for healing after abortion. Each retreat will have between 12 and 25 participants.

That means that between 5,400 and 11,250 people will be coming forward for treatment in the upcoming year.
Our ministry is growing at a 40% rate each year. In just the past seven years, thousands of men and women have come for help as Rachel's Vineyard has spread to Africa, Taiwan, Russia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, South America, Canada and throughout the United States.

There are hundreds of other post-abortion ministries popping up everywhere. So regardless of what the APA thinks, those of us who are in ministry know the truth. There is an epidemic that has gone disgracefully ignored, misdiagnosed and untreated.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Abortion, Depression, Women, Men, Family

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.