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  • Wednesday, June 01, 2005


    Abortion Counseling

    I'm fiercely pro-choice. As I read this article (Women Waiting to Exhale by Jennifer Baumgardner) I had ambivelent feelings about the direction of the content. It describes some of the feelings that women who've had abortions have in the wake of the abortion. It's complex and difficult to face but since it seeks an honest accounting of these feelings I think it's worthwhile. Admitting that some women, maybe many, feel regret and loss after an abortion means finding ways to help these women come to terms with those feelings. I see these feelings as the probably inevitable result of wrestling with the personal decision to have an abortion. As it says in the article, having these feelings doesn't make one anti-choice or anything like that. It's a process of examining these feelings, sharing them and finding a way to integrate them, not ignore or stuff them. Below is a little from the article.

    One way of telling the story begins in 1980, with a 30-year-old counselor named Charlotte Taft. Ms. Taft was two years into her tenure directing the Routh Street abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas when, feeling enthusiastic, she decided to draw up a questionnaire for patients coming in for their two-week checkups.

    "I wanted to know if patients were afraid to be intimate sexually and emotionally after a procedure, and did they feel adequately protected from another intended pregnancy? So I asked a lot of open-ended questions," recalls Taft, now 54 and a counselor in private practice in Glorieta, New Mexico.

    "I was shocked by how many who seemed fine during the procedure were now having thoughts and feelings that no one had anticipated." The biggest thing she noted was that women felt sadder than they had anticipated. "They wondered, 'How can I feel sad about something I chose?'"

    Abortion patients get more counseling than those undergoing any other medical procedure -- and still, Taft found, it was not safe for women to talk about abortion in their lives.

    "Number one, it was supposed to be a secret," says Taft. "So these women had no idea who else in their lives had gone through this experience. Number two, we don't have good language even today for making a good, but complex, decision. Third, some women felt that if they said anything, it was ammunition to remove the right to choose. You either said you were fine or admitted you were a murderer."

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