Friday, December 11, 2015

After Abortion: Adverse Psychological Reactions: A Fact Sheet

This Project Rachel program is intended to reach out to women experiencing grief from the loss of a child by abortion, and to offer them reconciliation and healing. It is based on the Catholic Church’s 26 years of experience counseling women who have come to our Project Rachel programs, suffering because of their abortions.

The Project Rachel messages do not speak about, or for, those women who have experienced only relief or satisfaction after abortion. But they can and do reflect — in their own words — women who have suffered because of their abortions.

This outreach is not about the debate in the medical literature regarding whether or not abortion has predictable, adverse psychological consequences for women. At the same time, it would be naive to believe that the visibility of Project Rachel’s messages will not cause some discussion about abortion’s psychological effects. So, it seems necessary to say a few words about the scientific research in this area.

A Vast Literature on Post-Abortion Response

Today there is a vast and growing literature on the topic of psychological consequences of abortion for women. Existing research on the mental health effects of abortion can be categorized into two main camps: (1) those who argue that abortion does not cause psychological problems and that adverse emotional reactions to abortion are no greater following abortion than childbirth (The American Psychological Association’s 2008 Task Force Report is an example); and (2) those who argue that abortion is associated with significant emotional health risks for some women and that these women can be largely identified by known risk factors.

Fortunately, most researchers have been open-minded in seeking the truth about abortion and mental health problems. For example, the largest and most definitive analysis of the mental health risks associated with abortion was published September 1, 2011 in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry (Coleman, PK, “Abortion and Mental Health: Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995-2009,” BJP 2011; 199:180-186). The meta-analysis conducted by Professor Priscilla Coleman, PhD of Bowling Green State University, examines twenty-two major studies published between 1995 and 2009 involving a total of 877,181 women, of whom 163,831 had abortions.

Taking into account all the mental health problems studied—anxiety, depression, alcohol use/misuse, marijuana use and all suicidal behaviors—here is what this rigorous analysis found:

Project Rachel is the post-abortion healing ministry of the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1984 in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Vicki Thorn. At this time, Project Rachel is in more than 110 diocese in the United States with more ministries forming.

This diocesan based ministry is composed of a network of specially trained clergy, spiritual directors and therapists who provide compassionate one-on-one care to those who are struggling with the aftermath of abortion. Project Rachel is designed to provide confidential and skilled help to each individual who comes to the ministry.

For more on Project Rachel, use this link.  

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