I was thinking of what to write this post about, and while researching I came across a website. The site discusses “Post-Abortion Syndrome” and its symptoms.
Now, the (dot)org and fancy title may throw you off, but this “Post-Abortion Syndrome” is not a medical issue recognized by the American Psychological Association. In fact, most women state that they are relieved after having an abortion and that they do not regret making that decision.
In my own experience, I was one of those women who did not regret my abortion. And I still don’t regret it. In my mind, making the decision to end a pregnancy is much more complex than the words regret or relief can capture. But that is not the case with all people. I have read stories about women who went on vacation the day after their abortion, or women who kept ultrasound photos to remember their decision. Some of us mourn losses, others celebrate being able to move forward.
What myths like the existence of “Post-Abortion Syndrome” do is discredit those of us whose stories contradict the anti-choice narrative. We have abortions, we accept our decisions, we live and move on. But these myths silence our stories. They feed into the idea that abortion is some horrible, traumatic, evil thing that damages and scars us beyond recovery. This pseudo-scientific propaganda dissuades other people from accessing their full range of choices when it comes to dealing with an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy.
The spread of misinformation to discourage people from seeking abortions does not end here. Claims that abortion damages reproductive organs and causes breast cancer are tossed around by anti-choicers to scare people. Slapping a name onto the variety of normal emotional responses after an abortion does not create an actual PTSD-type phenomenon. Certainly, there are women who experience abortion regret. There are women who are hurt and feel guilty. And those women deserve access to whatever assistance they need in dealing with those feelings. But many of us do not feel this way. We have a mixture. Some relief and some late-night wondering about what kind of mothers we may have been. What our never-born children would have looked like, acted like. And then there are others who acknowledge the decision they made and move on without analyzing it. All of these reactions are okay.
But it is not okay to use our emotions to push an agenda. Our stories are not here to be used to create unsupported ailments. Our stories are not here to frighten people from making the decision they think is best for them. Our stories are not here to be used out of context.
The anti-choice movement wants us to believe that abortion is hurting us. But it’s really the spread of myths like the existence of “Post-Abortion Syndrome” that is doing the most damage.