BLOGPOST: The Secret Trauma of Abortion

I had a strange dream many years ago. Many aspects of it are unusual; the most unusual might be that I remember it so well. My dreams are usually as fleeting as the smoke from a blown out candle.
I was a young mother then. Only two of my five children had been born. In my dream, it was nighttime and I was lying down in the backseat of a moving car. I don’t know who was driving. Perhaps the car was moving of its own accord.
I was on my way to a nearby town–at the time the only place locally where abortions happened. The entire dream was comprised of the two car rides–going there and coming back. The whole way there, I knew that this something had to happen. “I have to do this,” my dreaming inner self said. Ironically, I had the sense that I had no choice.
Then there was the ride home. Nothing in between. No light of the hospital hallways. No smiling or frowning nurse. No doctor reassuring me or disregarding me. No procedure itself.
There was just a ride home in which I felt only regret. As deeply as I felt the opposite conviction on the way there, I felt so profoundly–“I didn’t have to do that.” I awoke with a horror that indelibly impressed the dream in my mind.
For many women, my dream is reality. I only dreamed it. They live it.
Last year, a study presumed to prove that 95 percent of women who have abortions have no regrets. But most women (62.5 percent) who had abortions and were asked to participate in the study refused to be involved. Another 15 percent of those who had stayed in the study dropped out later on. And yet another 31 percent dropped out before the end of three years. That’s hardly 95 percent of women who’ve had abortions. That’s hardly even a reasonable sample.
The study further claimed that there is “no evidence of widespread post-abortion trauma syndrome. But it ignored “linkage studies” that showed “an elevated risk of psychiatric admissions following abortion or elevated rates of suicide. Instead, their assessment . . .[was based on] just six emotional reactions they associated with their abortion: relief, happiness, regret, guilt, sadness and anger.”
A similar study claimed 80 percent were happy with their decisions to abort. But 76 percent were determined never to have another abortion. It was an experience they would choose to never repeat.
Crisis pregnancy centers help people (not just mothers) who are dealing with the ramifications of a surprise pregnancy–no matter how it ends. They also help with post-abortion counseling.
Trauma, real trauma, happens to women who have abortions. For those who favor abortion–or for those whose livelihoods depend on it, that trauma is a secret they would like to keep.
But not everyone who works in the abortion industry is unaware of the trauma. Some do understand it and want to get out. Their work provides them with their share of wounds too. Abby Johnson worked for a Planned Parenthood affiliate in a non-clinical role–director of the facility. But the day she witnessed a 13 week abortion, was the day she knew she had to find other work.
Johnson left the clinic, wrote a book, hit the speaker circuit–and then took a career turn she could not have anticipated. Today she and her husband run a non-profit ministry to help clinic workers walk away.
Johnson says, “I remember my boss telling a person who wanted to leave and become a social worker that she would never get another job because she worked in the abortion industry. . . . And that is really true in most parts of the country. You will have a black mark against you on your résumé. There’s a kind of fear that keeps people from leaving.”
So Johnson and her husband formed a non-profit organization to help those who feel trapped in the business of abortion. The Johnsons’ organization is called “And Then There Were None” (ATTWN). Their hope is that someday there will be no more abortion workers, no one willing to assist in the trauma.
ATTWN provides assistance for those who’ve quit their clinic jobs. In two-and-a-half years, ATTWN helped 137 former clinic workers with financial assistance and with finding new employment.
Johnson says ATTWN asks pro-life business people to consider hiring former clinic workers. “We ask them to take a chance on these workers, and many have done that. For the most part, it has worked out beautifully for all involved. Some are now working with pregnancy resource centers and helping women to choose life.”
Beyond the practical help,there is emotional support and the opportunity to seek spiritual healing. Johnson says, “We listen, give advice and pray, and offer whatever support the worker needs.”
Human life is sacred. All of it. Born, pre-born and clinic workers too. Violating that sanctity causes trauma to all involved. But there is healing. God showed that to Abby Johnson. And she and her ministry prove it every day.

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3 Replies to “BLOGPOST: The Secret Trauma of Abortion”

  1. Nancy,
    Your observation is spot on. We need to pray for the workers and the mothers…and everyone associated with this industry.

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