Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome: Silenced No More
Part Two of a two-part series from a nurse practitioner and post-abortive woman.
Research has shown that there is a Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) that can occur in women after an abortion. In Psychology Today, we are told that PASS is the term that is used for post-abortive women who suffer. It is based on the same criteria that is used for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The list of symptoms can include guilt, anxiety, numbness, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal ideation.
According to Public Health records from a quarter of a million Medicaid patients in California, post-abortive women are 2.6 times more likely to commit suicide. Teenage post-abortive girls are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide. The records also show that post-abortive women have a 40% rate of PTSD, and that in late-term abortion, there is a 60% incidence of PTSD. Additionally, post-abortive women are much more likely to abuse both alcohol and drugs as compared to women who have not had an abortion.
The secrecy that shrouds an abortion also extends to incidents of suicidal ideation, PTSD or PASS, as well as alcohol and drug use or abuse. Thus, women are caught in a cycle that isolates them with intense feelings of being alone in their circumstances. They are unsure of where to turn or whom they can trust to reach out to. Shame wins and silence ensues.
Thus, the enemy of our souls succeeds as he silences not only the voices of our babies, but also the majority of voices of the moms. And, for the women whose faith is important, they are also silenced by the lie that they have no right to speak out publicly against the violence and abuse that was perpetrated against their bodies and minds. After all, the women tell themselves, “Who am I to speak against abortion when abortion is part of my story? Isn’t that what the Bible calls a hypocrite?”
This is not at all what the Bible calls a hypocrite. In fact, the ones who are best qualified to share the Good News of what God has done in their lives are the very ones who have experienced it. The Bible tells us that we overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies” (Revelation 12:11). If the Church won’t shine a light on this societal atrocity, then who will?
A Missed Opportunity
Too few churches in America today will address this issue in a meaningful way. Some even heap additional shame on the women who have experienced an abortion. According to Care Net statistics, four in ten women who have had abortions attend church regularly. Only seven percent of them feel the freedom to discuss their abortions in a church setting.
This allows more and more generations of young women to make the same mistakes as their older counterparts did. This cycle will continue until women in the church can find the courage to find their voices on this issue. If the enemy has muted so many, what must be done to find the button to unmute the masses? What must be done to bring transparency and authenticity to this issue to help younger women not have to live with the aftermath of the abuse and trauma of this barbaric act?
Violence and Lies
The trauma that is propagated towards women is both physical and psychological. The physical pain is real, as is the emotional pain that inevitably ensues. Oh, some women may go decades before adequately addressing their pain and sorrow, but what is pushed down will always surface at its appointed time, whether or not we feel adequately prepared to deal with it.
Employees at abortion clinics hide important truths regarding the abortion procedure. They also parrot catch phrases to temporarily ease moms’ minds. These practices are based on deceptions and lies. At some point, lies will resurface and probably do so in the ugliest of ways. Since the Bible tells us that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), it is safe to conclude that it is the lies that will chain us in captivity.
Collectively, it is of utmost importance to share the lies that we were told within the abortion clinics. Such lies include (but are not limited to):
- this is a “quick fix”
- this won’t hurt
- this is a simple procedure without complications
- it will be over quickly
- it’s not really a baby yet
- there is no way to reverse the pills you have taken
- the medical staff is qualified
- abortion is health care for women
- you won’t need anesthesia
- an enlightened woman knows what’s best for her body
- it’s just a little pressure…
Additionally, Planned Parenthood denies the fact that adverse emotional issues can occur after an abortion. They shame the women who try to honestly share their stories, which is a preposterous response to a very real issue. Post-abortive women who have tried to raise this issue on pro-abortion social media platforms are almost always subjected to abuse, name-calling, threats, and intimidation — and this only compounds their struggle.
Many are aware that postpartum depression can occur after a delivery. The current standard of care within the hospitals is to administer the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to assess for postpartum depression in every postpartum mom. We know that this is a risk after a viable infant is born. How much more should we acknowledge the facts that depression can also occur after an abortion?
Abortion providers purport that abortion gives women freedom to choose and freedom to do what they want with their bodies. In reality the converse actually occurs. The real outcome from abortion is pain, loss, symptoms of trauma, depression, shame, isolation, and bondage. It creates strongholds that are unfathomable. It is only God’s grace and the power of the cross that can set us free.
The Healed Will Heal
When we truly receive God’s forgiveness and marvel at His grace towards us, we begin to see with a new perspective. Our understanding is extended, and we believe that God can even work our abortion story together for good. The path forward becomes clear. We know that the best way to honor our unborn baby is to take our stand in this battle that rages within our land. Just as God has a purpose and a plan for our babies, so He does for the parents of these children.
Men who have abortion as part of their story also need to be healed and set free. Perhaps they are the most reluctant of all to seek the counseling that they need and find their voice. Think about it: If our nation has endured sixty million abortions, this has the potential to silence 180 million voices on this issue. Truly, we must all make a decision to be silent no more.
It is time for everyone in the church to be healed and find their voices on this issue. So many are needed in this epic battle to fast, pray, and minister to those who have been wounded by this epidemic. Think of the sheer numbers of those who have been affected. If we all rise in unison together and seek God’s face, maybe this will be the time that He hears our prayers and heals our land from the atrocity that we simply call “abortion.”
Read Part One of this series: “Abortion: The Great Silencer”
Julie Boles, MSN, WHNP has over 30 years of experience in women’s health care. Julie regularly writes at her blog Jewels and Gems. She is also a trained facilitator for the post-abortive counseling program Surrendering the Secret, and volunteers at Portico, the pro-life pregnancy center in her hometown. She and her husband, Brent, make their home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.