For some women, abortion is the result of an outright threat of abandonment if the woman won’t “do the right thing” and abort. Other times, the pressure is more subtle: “It’s your decision, but….”
Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that abortion to “save a relationship” almost never works. Many relationships between couples come apart shortly after an abortion. Others survive only because the partners are still bound together by grief. These relationships often turn into prolonged, mutually destructive mourning rituals.(1) Even married couples are often driven apart by an abortion unless they can find a way to complete the grieving process together.
Abortion breeds anger, resentment, and bitterness toward the partner who was not supportive or who ignored their partner’s desire to keep the baby.
At the same time, there is often tremendous pressure in the relationship to conceal one’s true feelings of grief or guilt. This can especially be a problem for men, who are often taught to hide their emotions. Men may also feel obligated to appear “strong” so as not to upset the woman any further.
Men can be affected by abortion in many of the same ways as women. Many men have reported post-abortion problems such as feelings of grief, helplessness and guilt; sexual dysfunction; substance abuse; self-hatred; fear of relationships; risk-taking and suicidal behavior; depression; greater tendencies toward becoming angry and violent; and a sense of lost manhood.(2)
When either women or men carry the emotional baggage of an unresolved abortion into a subsequent relationship, it can cause trouble in subtle and even dramatic ways.
This is especially a problem when they keep the abortion a secret from their spouses, who are then unable to understand their emotional cycles. The distortions in behavior that result when spouses keep secrets from each other can be devastating to a marriage.
At the very least, the “need” to keep a past abortion secret prevents couples from giving and receiving unconditional love. This deprives the relationship of the opportunity to reach its full potential.
It is no coincidence that the abortion rate and the domestic violence rate have risen almost side by side. Abortion, for both women and men, is associated with self-hatred, self-punishing behavior, and an increased tendency to act out anger and rage toward others.
A woman who is self-destructive or suicidal, but afraid to deliberately harm herself, may be more likely to become involved with a violent man. A violent relationship may allow her both to express her own rage and to experience what she unconsciously feels is the “punishment I deserve.” Because of self-hatred and low self-esteem, she may remain in the relationship because she thinks she doesn’t deserve anything better.
Certainly, there are many other causes of domestic violence. But substantial statistical evidence and many case studies show that abortion is contributing to this national tragedy.
Until these women and men are provided with an environment that promotes post-abortion healing, they are likely to remain trapped in these cycles of violence.
Dr. Theresa Karminski Burke is a psychotherapist and director of the Center for Post-Abortion Healing and author of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.
1. Franke, L. Bird, The Ambivalence of Abortion (New York: Random House Inc., 1978) p. 63. See also Reardon, Aborted Women, 45.
2. Strahan, T., “Portraits of Post-Abortive Fathers Devastated by the Abortion Experience,” Assoc. for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, Nov./Dec. 1994.
Source: Elliot Institute
Just had a VERY long and interesting conversation with a young man who was APPALLED that Ohio has banned abortion when there's a heartbeat. He's involved with a feminist group on campus, and he "just can't figure it out" - the anti-abortion movement "makes no sense" to him - and he said he wanted to understand. He hung up on me when I called him on his own bias - he didn't want to admit that his position was based on a worldview that has been formed by where he's gone to school and what he's been taught to believe at home and by his peers. He TOTALLY discounted my religious beliefs - and didn't see the hypocrisy in that (I have to respect his worldview but he doesn't have to respect mine). I hope - and pray - that SOMETHING I said filtered through his confusion.
The New Year is always a good time to look back and evaluate where we’ve been - and think about where we’d like to go. Sometimes, though, our past choices have a way of holding on, no matter how hard we try to move on, and “get on” with our lives. Perhaps a bad relationship still has us in its grip - maybe the person is gone, but the emotional damage done replays in our minds, making it difficult to feel “safe” with someone new - someone better. Or - that relationship pushed us into something we deeply regret - maybe an abortion - and we haven’t quite figured out how to let ourselves off the hook for what we’ve done. We can try to forget - for years - but that regret can poison everything good that comes along - and we yearn for a fresh start - a new beginning. While the past can’t be undone - some things just can’t be changed, we can learn new ways of looking at it - and learn how to forgive ourselves and others. And - we can choose to embrace the new life we’re offered - if we’re brave enough to stop pretending - and start the healing process.
“There are some things that are just so painful that we try to bury it beyond memory. I’ve learned from my own experience that no matter how deep I buried my pain, it always found a way out, and I was in a constant state of anxiety and fear. When I finally stopped - faced the pain (and its cause) - I was able to move beyond it and into freedom,” said Sharon Pearce, the Executive Director of Silent Voices. She and her staff are passionate about helping other women find that same freedom in a safe, nurturing environment. Silent Voices is a faith based non-profit organization, and with over thirty years of experience they can be trusted to help you sort out what’s going on - help you face your pain - and walk with you as you rediscover a truly wonderful person - the real you.
We can be reached by phone (619-422-0757) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The holidays are all about doing a little something extra for someone. If you’d like to lend a hand and show someone you care before, during and after the holidays, be sure to let them know about some money and energy savings programs that SDG&E offers its customers year ‘round.
Sharon Pearce has served as the Director of Silent Voices since 1984, and has dedicated her life to speaking up for the unborn - and for the women who have been hurt by abortion.