But not in the bad way. What I mean is that just yesterday we sold our last copy of issue 14. Because it is now sold out, we are starting to make more of those articles available online. Be sure to subscribe so that you will not miss any future issues. I am working on the next issue right now (Salvo 17, Summer 2011). Below is an excerpt from A Buried Grief by Marcia Segelstein from issue 14. More to come.
Finally, There Is More Help for Women Hurt by Abortion
by Marcia Segelstein
In 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade, Dr. Julius Fogel, a psychiatrist and obstetrician, wrote in the Washington Post that every woman who has an abortion experiences a trauma of some sort, to one degree or another (see sidebar). He wrote this in spite of the fact that he was in favor of legal abortion and an abortion practitioner himself. Of course, there is no way to prove whether or not Dr. Fogel was correct in asserting that all post-abortive women experience trauma. But it can fairly be said that he was ahead of his time in acknowledging the psychological impact of abortion on many women.
His assessment fell on deaf ears in any case. It would be many years before post-abortion ministries and outreach programs sprang up to meet the needs of women who had long suffered in silence.
Support Group Revelation
While Theresa Burke was a graduate student in the field of psychotherapy, she led a weekly support group for women with eating disorders. During one session, a patient named Debbie confided that she was having flashbacks to an abortion she’d had several years before. The distress they caused was compounded by phone messages she was getting from her ex-husband, in which he called her a “murderer” and rehashed gruesome details of the abortion. After these phone calls, Debbie would often become suicidal and end up in the hospital emergency room. She was severely anorexic.
The revelation of Debbie’s abortion led others to speak up. Another patient, Beth Ann, explained that she could understand how Debbie felt because she’d also had an abortion. Burke quotes her as saying, “It would kill me if someone kept reminding me about it. It’s something I try to forget about.”
Next was Diane, who, in the midst of a curse-laden rant against men, alluded to having had an abortion. Another patient, Judith, became so upset that she got up and left.
After the session, Burke phoned Judith to be sure she was all right. “I hate the subject of abortion and wish that we could focus on eating disorders instead,” Judith explained. When Burke asked her if she’d experienced an abortion herself, Judith said that she had, but that she didn’t want to discuss it.
It turned out that six of the eight women in the eating disorders group had undergone abortions. “In subsequent discussions, all six women indicated that their abortions were perhaps the most difficult decisions they had ever made,” Burke later wrote. “At the same time, however, they denied that their abortions had any significant effect on their lives.”
Burke sensed that, as she put it, “a lot of unexplored and unresolved feelings were being denied, repressed, or suppressed.” And because unexpressed emotions are often the key to treating eating disorders, Burke broached the subject of how to proceed with her supervising psychiatrist. She was instructed in no uncertain terms to drop it. Period.