Solidarity After Abortion

After listening to my fellow classmates present blogs that could be considered sanctuaries for women (rooms of their own), I decided to research some more. I stumbled across AfterAbortion.com, a place for women to use message boards or chat rooms to speak to and counsel other women who have had an abortion. The site is very much a ‘by women for women’ ideology, as states ‘jilly,’ the website’s owner– (“This site is owned by ‘jilly’, a woman who has had 5 abortions, and overcome her own struggles with PASS [Post Abortion Stress Symptoms]…the website has moderators that help with the message boards and chat rooms. These women are simply other women who’ve had an abortion themselves, and provide ‘peer support’ help. We do not have any health professionals here”).

Let’s go to the facts:

“Studies within the first few weeks after the abortion have found that between 40 and 60 percent of women questioned report negative reactions. Within 8 weeks after their abortions, 55% expressed guilt, 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% had experienced sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor.

Jilly has the right idea promoting peer counseling. It has been proven that peers provide “more credible, culturally appropriate information than other counselors” and are usually trained in “role playing, ethics, and other topics relevant to the health issue” and they have “no formal mental health education or training.”

The Jane collective of the 1970s made sure women received proper, respectful, efficient treatment. Having Janes, non-professionally trained women, perform abortions really eliminated the patriarchal and sexist brand of health care  that was prevalent at the time because there was compassion and no discrimination. It was empowering to have regular women take care of other regular women because there was strength in numbers and a mutual understanding.

I think post-abortion counseling, especially, on the internet is a positive option because it is a space where women can escape society’s burdensome presence and can share stories easily without the severe emotional pressure of stepping into a real-life counseling session. While real-life counseling can most certainly be effective, removing the physical body–something abortion is very much related to–can be a weight off a woman’s shoulders.

To find out more about Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome, check out this informative video:

2 thoughts on “Solidarity After Abortion

  1. It seems to me like PASS is another example of the negative effects of medicalization. WHY are women having negative reactions to abortions? Is it because of the abortion itself, or their partner’s/family’s/society’s attitudes towards abortion? If a woman’s right to choose was a given in out society, if women didn’t have to drive 100 miles or face anti-abortion protestors right before going in for a simple and usually harmless procedure, would they still experience negative emotional consequences?

    • shatoum says:

      Kaitlyn,

      I can’t deny that societal pressures are contributors to the psychological unrest women experience post-abortion. But there will always be women who have negative emotional responses. PASS may not necessarily be written in medical textbooks but it’s a very real syndrome to the women of AfterAbortion.com, for example. Through PASS, these women are able to unite and counsel each other through their struggles.

      -SH

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