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Monday, January 10, 2005



cb: A few references on the emotional reactions of relinquishing mothers:



Sorry about the format but I haven't been able to get renaming of html links to work properly on this site.

As you might expect, both these article, one of which is a review, find that mothers who put their babies up for adoption frequently end up with pathological grief reactions. In contrast, most women do well emotionally after an abortion.


There is a difference between the feelings a woman has for a 6 week old embryo and the feeling she has for a baby. Giving up a baby that one has carried for nine months and risked one's life to give birth to is just not something that humans are evolved to do. I'm not saying that adoptive parents are doing anything wrong by adopting or that relinquishing mothers are doing anything wrong by giving up their babies, of course. However, I do think that a woman should know the long term dangers to her health before she decides to put her baby up for adoption.


Hi DP, of course I'm sure you realize that anecdotal evidence is quite limiting. It would be interesting to see statistics about women who give their children up for adoption and their emotional reactions.

Of course, those who give up their children for adoption know that the child at least has had a chance to live. Assuming the child outlives her (obviously, that is not always the case, even without abuse of the child or sickness of the child), she still has the possibility of seeing the child.

With abortion, the result is PERMANENT and IRREVOCABLE. The woman never has even the possibility to visit the child she has aborted.

You refer to those who are not in favor of legalized abortion as "anti-choice." "Choice" covers many decisions, not just whether or not one can legally kill their child via abortion. Choice includes deciding one's favorite color. Choice includes deciding what to eat for breakfast. Choice includes deciding a career path. A baby who is aborted never gets a chance to make any of these CHOICES. Unless the word "choice" has just one NARROW definition, I would hardly call those who want children to be allowed to be born "anti-choice." Afterall, they want these children to be able to make CHOICES on a vast number of things in their lives.

As to your anecdotal claim that women who have had abortions "moved on," there are clearly others who are continuing to live with the pain.


I can't believe any woman who's ever had a child could ask "why not adoption" in the facile manner that anti-choice groups so often do. How about because giving a child up for adoption hurts like hel and the pain never ends?

I know several women who have had abortions. They were able to mourn and go on with their lives. I also know women who have given birth and put the baby up for adoption. They never recover.


You write: "in other countries where there is not so much anti-abortion rhetoric and protest, women seem to do better, to have less guilt about their choices. this fact has been proven by numerous studies."

First, I assume this means we in the U.S. have more post-abortion guilt and trauma, and this is verified by the same studies. Yet many argue that post-abortion trauma is a myth.

Second, some countries in this world have no qualms about applying the death penalty to minor crimes, or allowing male family members to kill a woman who has been raped. They don't feel so bad about it. It doesn't follow that we should adopt these practices, does it?

Anne Basso

fjm, you make an interesting comment. But I don't believe that morality is relative. For example, if someone rapes me, it is wrong. Most of us can agree on that. But if the person raping me thought it was okay, does that make it so? No, it doesn't. It's still wrong.

If a child inside it's mother is human and alive, which all the evidence I have seen says it is, then it is wrong to kill it. That doesn't mean that the woman is in any easier a position. But being in a tough spot doesn't make it okay to allow someone to be killed.


Focusing on "ethics" is not terribly helpful, because whose ethics? I was educated in the Jewish community. We aren't terribly thrilled with abortion, but it doesn't seem to carry anything like the same moral weight as it does among Christians. I remember at 19 sitting in a women and polics class at University and having the blinding flash of realisation that the other women in the class were on a different planet to me, because they all came from cultures which talked of the sanctity of the unborn child, and I came from one that talked about the important of the mother and her responsibility to her community. It's astonishing how much difference that shift of emphasis made.


I too work in an abortion clinic as a Patient Advocate - I'm in the counselling role also. We get a lot of people that weren't pro-choice, or their parents/boyfriends/husbands/kids aren't, and it's hard for them. Some even tell me they wish abortion was illegal so they didn't HAVE to have one. But even most of them never thought they would be in that position. I think it's strange, personally. I always talk about protection and pregnancy and diseases with any new partner, and I used to be really surprised that other people didn't. But they don't, and they never think it'll happen to them...but it does.

Anne Basso

I don't believe that most women in the US who are getting abortions are forced into it. But I do wonder if they understand what the actual effect is on the baby, and on themselves physically and emotionally.

I also can't understand why anyone would shame a woman doing such a noble thing as putting a child up for adoption. To give children homes and parents children is an awesome gift and a tremendous sacrifice. I repect any woman who choses life for her baby, especially when circumstances make it difficult.

As for the counciling, I can really only speak for mine. They really only talked to me about abortion. They didn't ask at all about what my influences were. My parents told me I'd have to move out, and my b/f told me he'd break up with me, and that he wouldn't let me put the baby up for adoption. Then I had to sign a paper saying I wasn't being forced to have the abortion. I remember thinking, "Ya, right" even as I was signing it. I was 17.

I had no idea (since I didn't feel pregnant, really) that I would feel such a void when it was over. Almost like a piece of my soul had been ripped out. I didn't know about the depression and the desired to get pregnant again or that my baby had a beating heart and brain waves. I didn't find that out until it was too late. My baby will always be my baby, and I will always be sorry that they never got a chance. I take full responsibility for it. Certainly my circumstances had I given birth would have been really hard. Really hard. But my baby would have lived. What is that next to hard?


many will say that they just didn't believe women needed to choose abortion when they could just as easily choose adoption.
Adoption is never ever an easy choice, for the woman bearing the child or the person choosing to parent. And too often, women choosing to place babies for adoption are shamed by their families and communities, when they should be given the highest respect for making that choice.

Anne and Emily, please don't assume that all women who get abortions are being forced into it. The clinics I work with do work hard to provide neutral counseling, to ensure that women will not make a choice they will later come to regret, and to watch for those other poisonous influences that are telling her "you HAVE to do this, we know what is best for you".

And to Lou, again, thanks for making your thoughs and experiences public. This site is indeed food for thought.


"when they are forced to confront a pregnancy that cannot continue."

I wish that these women could receive neutral counseling at your clinic that didn't buy into agendized absolutes and hopelessness before the woman even walks in the door.

Anne Basso

I chose abortion because I was a teenager, and I thought I had to. My parents told me I had too, and so did everyone else who might have helped. I was given no other options. But in the end, it was my decision and I will always live with that. It very nearly killed me.

I'm always amazed by women who were pro-life and then had an abortion. There are also plenty of women like me who were pro-choice until we had one. It seems to me just another sign of the inherent selfishness of our society that something suddenly becomes right if someone "feels" that they need/want to do it. Which isn't to say that people are all selfish. It's just one apect of our complex character.

I read in the one article posted here about the screams of the pro-choice woman at the pro-life gathering. I wonder if our minds wouldn't change if we could here the pain that a baby goes through as it is ripped and sucked from the womb. Or the screams of the mothers who were unaware of the trauma they could experience after an abortion. I wonder if my screams would have changed her mind again.

This is always a fascinating place to recieve food for thought. But I wonder what could be done if we would move away from emotions and feelings and focus on morals, ethics, responsiblity, and science.

My heart breaks for woman and children everywhere.

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