When I was first interested in being an editor for the pro-choice site here at BellaOnline, one of the things I wanted to learn more and educate more about, was post abortion syndrome, or PAS for short. It is not an illness well known about, it is somewhat controversial, and there are many people, including doctors of all kinds, all over the world, who do not believe it is real.
What is known of PAS is that it is a form of depression, after having had an abortion. It can range from mild to severe, and may exhibit some of the same criteria used in diagnosing a patient with post traumatic stress disorder.
If you have heard of it before, you most likely are in one of three categories. You are either someone who has it, or know someone who does, you are a medical professional, or you are a pro-life supporter. To their credit, the pro-life groups are the people most likely to get the information out about PAS, although their interest is not really in the women who suffer from it.
Most of their efforts are put into using PAS as a way to make abortion illegal. I do not agree with the reasons they are bringing awareness to the condition, but I applaud that they are shining a light on an illness, that many pro-choice supporters want no involvement in.
I am not one of them. I understand the controversy. No one wants there to be a negative aspect to anything, we believe strongly in. No one wants, to give the anti-choice side more fuel for their already, in some ways, out of control, fire. That does not make PAS go away. It surely is not the best way to support women when they need it most.
There is no way, to put all the available information about PAS in one article. Besides keeping abortion and all women’s right to choose, legal, and accessible, PAS is a condition I hold incredibly close to my heart. I know, have known, and will know, women who are or have struggled with it.
I cannot reiterate enough that whether abortion is legal or not, abortions will always be a reality. PAS will not dissolve into the atmosphere, if abortions are more difficult to obtain. To the contrary, it would create the conditions for PAS to be an issue, more often than not. That added to the already known, detrimental effects of seeking an illegal abortion.
We must support women. While the other side may argue that abortion causes PAS, and to some degree, there is truth to that, there are many factors involved, and now is not the time for tunnel vision. The fact is that any woman, who has an abortion, has a risk of developing post abortion syndrome.
Everything we do in life has risks. It is almost laughable to me, that anyone would deny or question whether women can develop issues before and after having aborted their pregnancy.
Emotional damage is a risk for a woman who decides to give her baby up for adoption. Yet, there is no worldwide campaign to end adoption. Pro-life activists are big on giving women ultrasounds before abortions, and yet no one seems a bit bothered by the possible trauma to the women’s mental state.
Much more research is needed on this little known illness. Not so we can make abortion illegal, but so that we can find ways to minimize the risks, and treat the symptoms of PAS. Stop denying it, stop using it as a political tactic, and let us work to ease the pain of a very difficult decision for women.
You will be seeing more from me on PAS in the future. I am closing this article with some of the warning signs, that a woman in your life, who has ended her pregnancy, needs extra help and support.
Including but not limited too:
Avoidance of anything related to babies, pregnancy, and abortion
Flashbacks and Nightmares of the abortion
Drug or Alcohol Abuse
Self-Harm/thoughts or talk of suicide
Overwhelming urge to become pregnant again
Emotional Difficulty on and around the anniversaries of the abortion and/or due date