The Aborted Psyche?

By: John G. Weldon; ©2011
So, yet another study (funded by groups that support abortion), has allegedly concluded that abortion is safe and free from psychological sequelae (specifically, mental problems serious enough to warrant admission to a hospital or outpatient clinic).

So, yet another study (funded by groups that support abortion), has allegedly concluded that abortion is safe and free from psychological sequelae (specifically, mental problems serious enough to warrant admission to a hospital or outpatient clinic). The study originated from Amsterdam no less, the colorful city of nightlights where it seems almost nothing evil is illegal, where you can purchase prostitutes out of store windows much like you might pick out a suit or dress, and where citizens may freely become addicted to dangerous drugs regardless of the personal, family or social cost – and where so much pride exists that God himself is hardly even mentioned. Coming from Amsterdam, that’s not necessarily surprising. Nevertheless, this study is, coming from its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One discussion of the research comments, “Having an abortion does not increase the risk of mental health problems, but having a baby does, one of the largest studies to compare the aftermath of both decisions suggests.”[1]

One can almost hear the pro-choice prejudice, as if having a baby is actually worse than having an abortion. Of course having a child is stressful, but it’s far more of a blessing, however that’s not the issue under discussion.

But even before I read the study, I can tell that this research will be critiqued and demonstrated to be false, even as was the extensive review by the American Psychological Association published in 2008 which also concluded that no evidence exists that an abortion poses a threat to women’s mental health. Such studies are wrong because the opposite reality has already been demonstrated, suggesting that more is going on here than objective research. (See below.)

American women alone have aborted between 50 and 100 million pre-borns (globally the figures are in the hundreds of millions); in America this is 30-60 times the number that have been killed in all US wars throughout its history.[2] Surely something like this must be a “women’s rights” issue, if considering no more than the rights of the 25-50 million pre-born American women who will never exist, not to mention the hundreds of millions of women considered globally.[3] (It seems prudent, if considering the significant to permanent psychological impact of abortion on an adult female, that we not forget the permanent physical impact on the pre-born female.)

First, it is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception (what other life would it be?) and this is, I suspect, not just intuitively known by every woman, it is also factually known, although facts can clearly be suppressed, just as consciences can be seared and hardened, so that few or no psychological episodes are experienced post-abortion, at least consciously. Nevertheless, I believe it is factually known at some basic level because every woman is created in God’s image, an image that requires certain knowledge (Cf. Romans Ch. 2), and also because every woman began as a fertilized egg, something that is difficult to logically deny in a society where science is virtually worshiped and basic scientific knowledge is fairly widespread. Indeed the fact that we begin from a fertilized egg and turn into what we are is nothing less than a miracle, as even some secular scientists have powerfully conceded.[4]

What many fail to realize is that abortion is not exclusively a religious or moral issue. It is also a scientific issue, specifically a biological one. In an earlier book, When Does Life Begin? And 39 Other Tough Questions about Abortion (which the Conservative Book Club termed the best pro-life manual available and is now accessible on Amazon Kindle) Dr. Ankerberg and I cited numerous scientific and other authorities, secular and religious, to the effect that human life begins at conception and that abortion is the taking of a human life.[5] (We also documented the logical or other basis upon which it may be concluded that all of the standard pro-choice arguments are wrong.)

Nevertheless, if this reality, that human life begins at conception, is either intuitive or factually known by women, it cannot but have a psychological impact, sooner or later.

This explains why, in that book, we were able to cite many authorities suggesting or documenting the truth that abortion is psychologically damaging to women (not to mention the fact that, at a certain stage, the baby feels pain during an abortion, that abortion is physically risky and that there are effects of abortion on siblings.[6] For example the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists did a survey of available psychological and psychiatric studies reporting that “The incidence of serious, permanent psychiatric aftermath is variously reported as between nine and 59%.” We cited a Washington psychiatrist-obstetrician who had, by then, performed some 20,000 abortions who admitted in 1971 before the US Supreme Court that: “I think every woman… has a trauma at destroying a pregnancy… She is destroying herself… a psychological price is paid…” (But she is really destroying her baby, part of herself, though also a separate person; on why personhood exists from conception see our book, chapter 6.)

Even so, our book was written about 20 years ago, and some could argue that its conclusions have been outdated by more recent research — even though by its publication date there had been some 300 different studies conducted on the psychological aftermath of abortion and the book remains surprisingly timely. They could argue that in the interim, there has surely been a significant amount of time for science, medicine and psychology to more thoroughly evaluate the issue and even more definitively answer the question one way or the other. Granted, scientifically proving psychological complications is more difficult than proving physical complications, but this does not mean that they are neither provable nor less painful – in fact, they may be more painful. Sadly, the “abortion is safe” myth so prevalent today has strong supporters who prefer the truth not be known.

I’d like to cite just two examples of more recent studies, although hundreds could be supplied.

A 1997 study by David C. Reardon, Ph.D., referring to other studies indicated that significant numbers of women experienced nervous disorders, sleep disturbances personal regrets, had been prescribed psychotropic medicines by their family physician, had significantly greater use of medical and psychiatric services (eight times more than the control group) and are significantly more likely to require psychiatric hospitalization — especially among teenagers, divorced or separated women and women with two or more abortions. It also noted that research has demonstrated the logical and important observation that the women least likely to participate in post-abortion research are those who are the most traumatized. Other findings include the fact that 30%-50% of women reporting aftermath episodes report experiencing sexual dysfunction immediately after abortion, both short and long-term, and “Approximately 60 percent of women who experience post-abortion sequelae report suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times. Researchers in Finland have identified a strong statistical association between abortion and suicide in a records based study….The suicide rate within one year after an abortion was three times higher than for all women, seven times higher than for women carrying to term, and nearly twice as high as for women who suffered a miscarriage. Suicide attempts appear to be especially prevalent among post-abortion teenagers.”[7] Abortion was also linked to heavy cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse (a twofold increased risk), increased drug abuse, eating disorders, child neglect or abuse, divorce/chronic relationship problems, and repeat abortions (which occur among 30%-50% of women depending on the study.)[8]

Here are some symptoms and statistics on what is termed “post-abortion syndrome” (clinically a subdivision of posttraumatic stress disorder), according to the Network Medical Pregnancy Resource Center which, among other things, provides medical consultations for abortions:

  • guilt (61%)
  • anger (45%)
  • remorse (45%)
  • depression (53%)
  • suicidal thoughts (32%)
  • suicide attempts (28%)
  • flashbacks to abortion (28%)[9]

The Elliot Institute may contain the Internet’s most complete source of information on the physical, psychological and other harmful effects of abortion. (http://www.afterabortion.org/) Anyone who examines the contents of this website will be hard-pressed to deny that there are serious consequences of abortion to women. For example, an article by Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D., “A Tidal Wave of Published Data: More Than 30 Studies in Last Five Years Show Negative Impact of Abortion on Women,” published November 16, 2010 observes:

Over 30 studies have been published in just the last five years and they add to a body of literature comprised of hundreds of studies published in major medicine and psychology journals throughout the world. The list is provided below and the conscientious reader is encouraged to check the studies out. No lies … just scientifically-derived information that individual academics, several major professional organizations, and abortion providers have done their best to hide and distort in recent years…. As a group of researchers who in 2008 published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles indicating abortion is associated with negative psychological outcomes, six colleagues and I sent a petition letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) criticizing their methods and conclusions as described in their Task Force Report on Abortion and Mental Health.”[10]

Only the fact that psychological effects of abortion actually exist explains why there are tens of thousands of women in groups such as Women Exploited by Abortion, Exhale, Post-abortion Counseling and Education, American Victims of Abortion and many others. The definitive studies that exist are not cited or acknowledged (or are poorly critiqued) by many people simply because they don’t want to acknowledge the truth, not because the studies’ conclusions are unwarranted.

In Nebraska today, women can appropriately sue for psychological injuries caused by abortion procedures, and this is a trend that will most likely grow as more and more women become aware of the truth and are willing to stand up for what has been done to them, particularly when they were never informed of the many potential risks of abortion prior to the actual procedure.[11]

But stronger yet than the irrefutable scientific evidence that life begins at conception and therefore abortion is the taking of a human life is the fact that God Himself is the one who actively and intentionally creates the baby in the womb, His divine artwork so to speak. Consider only three of many Scriptures:

“This is what the LORD says — your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, …” (Isaiah 44:24)
“…you molded me like clay. [You] clothe[d] me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews…” (Job 10:9,11)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together … [and] your eyes saw my unformed body.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

In other words, the pre-bornchild is hardly some nebulous accidental blob of protoplasm, an ultimate product of the impersonal, cruel and cold evolutionary process. Nor is it only a literal human being, whose murder is, quite logically, worthy of the death penalty (also biblical Ankerberg and Weldon, Section III.[12]). But it is actually the murder of God’s special and unique creation, something far too few consider. Think about it for a moment. If the reader were God and had paid a literally infinite price to redeem the creatures He loved by sending His only son, Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for their sins — and yet those creatures destroyed hundreds of millions of precious lives being created in the womb by God himself, how do you think God would feel? How would you feel if you were God? Taking bulldozers to all the most famous art museums and most prestigious galleries around the world is nothing in comparison to taking a single human life with an eternal soul — let alone by horribly brutal and torturous methods, cutting off arms and heads, torturing and poisoning the child with saline solution, or even worse.

Mothers who are, above all, to love their own children and doctors who are, above all, to do no harm, have conspired together to destroy the most precious artwork of God himself in one of the most holy places on earth. It’s almost unimaginable. This isn’t a crime merely against the pre-born child, much as it is, it is a crime against God Himself and will, in the end if not now, be paid back as such.

But there is also good news beyond imagining; divine grace is much stronger than our sin.

As terrible as the crime is, forgiveness for the sin of an abortion, for both women and physicians, is freely and graciously available – full and absolute forgiveness both now and for all eternity. That is the even greater miracle than conception itself. Women who have had abortions should seriously consider receiving such forgiveness, not only for the sake of their child who is now in heaven, but for the sake of their own psychological and spiritual well-being, for the sake of their own future. And so should the physicians who have abandoned their solemn oaths, also for the sake of their eternal souls.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Notes

  1. “Abortion doesn’t trigger mental distress, says study,”; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41280864/ns/health-mental_health
  2. For a striking visual on this, see John Ankerberg and John Weldon, When Does Life Begin? And 39 Other Tough Questions about Abortion (Wolgemuth & Hyatt 1989) front chart; available on Amazon Kindle.
  3. Global abortion rates are currently estimated at at least 40 million per year; e.g., the Alan Guttmacher Institute’s Sharing Responsibility: Women Society & Abortion Worldwide (1999) estimated 46 million a year, but since accurate records are not kept in developing societies the figures are expectedly low; actual numbers could be as high as 75 million or more but there is also a chance they could be lower than 40 million, but probably not much; it’s difficult to go below 35 million. http://abortionabout.com/abortion-statistics.html.)
  4. All the massive and multiplied wonders in the cosmological phenomena combined can barely hold a candle to a single human cell made by God, something just a few microns in diameter. Consider the comments of prominent biologist Lewis Thomas, M.D., who attended Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He became Dean of Yale Medical School, New York University School of Medicine, and President of the famous Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute. He once penned the following gushing praise about the miracle of just two human proto-cells combined, the fertilized human egg. The fertilized human egg is a lone ‘primitive’ cell that, as if by magic, transforms itself into at least 100 trillion different cells, including some 220 specialized but remarkable cell types that make up the physical human being:The mere existence of that cell should be one of the greatest astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell. If anyone does succeed in explaining it, within my lifetime, I will charter a skywriting airplane, maybe a whole fleet of them and send them aloft to write one great exclamation point after another, around the whole sky, until all my money runs out. (Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail, (NY: Viking Press, 1979), pp. 155-157.)And yet if we truly examine any one of those 100 trillion plus cells within the human body we discover something like the complexity of a city, as e.g., molecular biologist Michael Denton documented in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1986). Indeed, according to Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute, “We now know that even the simplest functional cell is almost unfathomably complex,…” (quoted in, Cliff Kinkaid (Editor of the AIM Report) “Former Atheist Says God Exists,” Insight On The News , December 21, 2004 http://www.bible.ca/tracks/converted-to-creation-antony-flew-former-atheist.htm)

    A single drop of blood has 35 million red blood cells.

    A single red blood cell has 280 million hemoglobin molecules, each molecule having 10,000 atoms.

    A single human has 27,000,000,000,000 (27×1012 ) red blood cells.

    In the face of the enormous complexity that modern biochemistry has uncovered in the cell, the scientific community is paralyzed. No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel Prize winner—no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion. (Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution 1996 p. 97)

  5. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, When Does Life Begin? And 39 Other Tough Questions about Abortion, 8-18;
  6. Ibid. Chapters 8-13.
  7. David C. Reardon, Ph.D, “A List Of Major Psychological Sequelae Of Abortion,” (http://www.abortionfacts.com/reardon/post_abortion_syndrome_character.asp)
  8. Ibid. The 50% figure is not cited in this source.
  9. The Network Medical Pregnancy Resource Center: http://www.networkmedical.org/index.php?id=182
  10. Available at: http://www.theunchoice.com/News/colemanresearcharticle.htm
  11. See: http://www.afterabortion.org/news/index.htm
  12. Ankerberg and Weldon, Section III.

1 Comment

  1. […] between abortion and mental health problems. Is this true? For an in depth look at this topic, see The Aborted Psyche? by Dr. John […]

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