The mourning after

"The mourning after" Continued...

Issue: "Don't run, Newt," April 14, 2007

The cards, according to Exhale co-founder Aspen Baker, are designed to address the range of women's responses to an abortion. "Not everyone is grieving their loss," Baker said. "Not everyone has a relationship with God. . . . We hope the people who send them take the time to think . . . about what is best for the person receiving it and what they need to hear."

Caron Strong, national director of Operation Outcry, a support group for grieving post-abortive women, criticized Exhale's mixed messages: "It's just very revealing of duplicity," said Strong. "On the one hand, the message is that abortion is a simple procedure that just takes a few minutes, and you can be over it for the rest of your life. On the other, the message is that abortion is very difficult and that God will be with you."

Strong, who has had four abortions, including three while married to a man who convinced her to terminate, said Exhale and other pro-Roe groups somehow count their own abortion experiences as more valid than those of women who grieve. "Their argument with us is, 'You can't tell us abortion hurts all women because my abortion didn't hurt me.'" But Strong turns the reasoning in the other direction: "Don't tell us that abortion never hurts women, or even that it's rare, because it did hurt us."

Strong remembers lying on a table in the procedure room at a Planned Parenthood clinic on Union Avenue in Memphis. "When I heard that machine go off, I realized they were taking the life of my child. Tears were running down my face and the nurses were standing over me chatting about birthday cake. They couldn't have cared less."

Exhale, like others on the pro-abortion side including Peace After Abortion author Eva Torres-Bueno, denies the existence of Post-Abortion Syndrome and attribute abortion fallout to preexisting causes. Torres-Bueno, for example, typically pins negative abortion reactions to such root causes as a repressive religious upbringing, an unsupportive boyfriend, or negative societal views of abortion. (Fergusson's study found no correlation between his subjects' post-abortion suffering and any preexisting conditions.)

For Strong, the cause of her own pain was simple: "It was me allowing the death of my child to take place. . . . I can remember them pulling and tugging on the third abortion. They couldn't get it. The doctor was being very stern with me and the nurses were trying to get me to hold still. It was years later before I realized I must have been much farther along than I thought. When the puzzle pieces came together about abortion procedures, I just spiraled down into a pain that I had never known."

With HR 1457, Joe Pitts hopes to form a foundation of solid research that will help women avoid Strong's suffering. But with a Democrat-controlled Congress, the bill may not move far. Pitts' press secretary Skip Brown notes that when the GOP controlled Congress, "Republicans always moved Democrats' bills on post-partum depression. It is unclear whether they will return the favor. It will be a shame if they don't, but with a Democratic Congress, it's going to be an uphill climb."

Lynn Vincent
Lynn Vincent

Lynn is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the best-selling author of 10 non-fiction books.


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