Senate Approves Research of Post-Abortion Syndrome

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Abortion rights advocates say the Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is a "bogus condition invented by the religious right." However, PAS could soon have official federal recognition if a Senate-passed amendment, tacked onto a government-spending bill, is eventually signed into law.

Amendment 2085 was attached to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriation bill and calls upon the National Institutes of Health to "expand and intensify research and related activities... with respect to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis."

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), passed unopposed earlier this month and will soon be taken up by a House-Senate conference committee.

A spokeswoman for Smith said she expects there to be wide support for the amendment in the House as well.

"We thought it was important for the U.S. Congress to acknowledge that this syndrome exists for potentially millions of women, especially considering that many people aren't even aware of its existence, and many others deny that it exists," said Smith's press secretary, Lisa Harrison.

"This syndrome is characterized by severe depression, guilt, eating disorders, anxiety, anger, lower self-esteem, addictions, anniversary grief, etc., following a woman's abortion," Harrison said.

A majority of abortion advocates, however, claim PAS is a "bogus" condition. The issue was covered in a recent Ms. Magazine article, which criticized the tactics used by pro-life groups.

"Using the allure of outward compassion, dozens of anti-choice PAS organizations have sprung up in the last ten years," the article stated.

Both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League refused to comment on the passage of Amendment 2085. However, an article on Planned Parenthood's website states, "Anti-family planning extremists... call this nonexistent phenomenon 'post-abortion trauma' or 'post-abortion syndrome.'"

In the same article, the group states that, "Women who have had one abortion do not suffer adverse psychological effects. In fact, as a group, they have higher self-esteem, greater feelings of worth and capableness, and fewer feelings of failure."

But, PAS counselors say they have witnessed severe psychological trauma in women, regardless of the number of abortions they have had.

Theresa Burke, who operates the post-abortion healing group, Rachel's Vineyard, says
"Most women who suffer feel like they are crazy because no one recognizes the source of their pain and grief as legitimate... They suffer in silence and shame."

According to Burke, most women who seek help cannot find therapists willing to discuss the abortion.

"I have seen that emotional pain related to abortion is more likely to be prolonged and to create major negative distortions and dysfunction in a person's life because the reactions are not easily understood or accepted by themselves or others," Burke said.

One woman, identifying herself only as "Jilly," operates a website called AfterAbortion.com.

"I am pro-choice... yet I have experienced PASS (Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome), and I know through my own experiences, and the experiences of other women, that PASS is real," Jilly states.

While the Senate amendment may help legitimize the syndrome, "Jilly" said women who have experienced PAS do not need anyone else trying to convince them their pain is real.

"We know, from what we have felt!" her website states. "It's real and we are now learning by ourselves how to deal with it. When the rest of the world eventually catches up, and recognizes PASS for the serious issue it is, we'll be waiting!"