Tabloid headlines read: “Women succumb at alarming rate to post-abortion stress syndrome,” “Dramatic increase in incidents of breast cancer,” “suicide among women who have abortions.” There is not one shred of scientific evidence to back up any of these claims. The articles are authored by well-recognized anti-choice leaders intent upon instilling fear through lies.
Post-abortion stress syndrome (PAS) is not an official syndrome or diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, or any other mainstream authority. Even such noted anti-choice advocates as President Reagan’s Surgeon General C. Everett Koop determined that there was insufficient evidence of trauma related to abortion. Psychological problems were “minuscule from a public health perspective.” The American Psychological Association has concluded that terminating an unwanted pregnancy poses no hazard to women’s mental health and that the predominant sensation following the termination of an unwanted pregnancy is relief. The only groups subscribing to the existence of PAS are the dozens of anti-choice organizations that have sprung up to produce literature about this fictitious ailment. They also manipulate statistics to fabricate relationships between breast cancer or suicide and abortion but cannot provide documentation.
This PAS approach is a direct assault on the choice movement. Since legal abortion is a safe surgical procedure David C. Reardon, director of the anti-choice Elliot Institute, and his allies have invented mental pain as a repercussion of abortion. Reardon trumpets a forceful anti-choice message: “Abortion hurts women.” He explains, “By demanding legal protection for women forced into unwanted abortions and greater rights for women to sue for post-abortion trauma, we force our opponents to side with us or to be exposed as defending the abortion industry at the expense of women.”
Organizations such as SafeHaven, Healing Hearts Ministries and Victims of Choice prey upon the emotions of women at a vulnerable time. Many of these organizations are actually crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)*. They offer no medical assistance whatsoever. While claiming to offer compassionate care, these organizations impose a three-step process on their victims to alleviate the “psychological damage” from abortions. To be forgiven for the abortion, women must open their hearts to Jesus Christ, speak out against abortion and, whenever possible, lobby for anti-choice legislation. Final absolution is the promised outcome if the woman sues the abortion provider for malpractice. With frightened women doing their dirty work, these organizations believe they can put abortion providers out of business by making it too risky and too costly to continue functioning. Crisis Pregnancy Centers work to scare women out of terminating pregnancies.