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Dealing with the PASS

On October 10 we observed World Mental Health Day. One aspect of mental health that is largely ignored by doctors and the secular media is the mental health of post-abortive women.

Pro-abortionists insist that there are no negative mental health consequences of abortion, and though it is true that some women experience none, there is mounting evidence that many women experience what is known as Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS), a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that follows an abortion.

The term has not been accepted by either the American Psychiatric Association or the American Psychological Association. In fact, pro-abortion advocates argue that pro-lifers invented it in order to further their political agendas (making or keeping abortion illegal).

‘Jilly’ of has identified the following nine stages of PASS.  She emphasises that the duration (from a few days to a few years) and intensity of any stage can vary from woman to woman and that women can start at any stage, skip some stages, and even revert to previous stages.

Stage 1—Denial, numbness, apathy. Women experience a wide range of emotional and physical problems in their lives but discount their abortion as the cause.

Stage 2—Beginning awareness (feeling sad or uncomfortable when thinking of the abortion).

Stage 3—Full awareness (being very upset about the abortion, but possibly still not consciously acknowledging the abortion as the cause of the problems).  Women may feel a desire to punish themselves for what they have done; have recurring nightmares; experience flashbacks of the abortion procedure; and attempt to get pregnant again in order to replace the lost baby. Women at this stage may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed.

Stage 4—Beginning anger. The woman experiences problems with her temper, especially when in conflict with those she perceives as responsible for her abortion decision. Anger at herself can also emerge at this stage, and she can begin or worsen self-destructive behaviours.

Stage 5—Anger or severe depression. Self-destructive behaviours worsen in this stage. On the other hand, the woman might experience deep depression and hopelessness, and express a desire to “die” and “join the baby”.

Stage 6—Beginning resolution. At this stage, the woman has realised that she needs help resolving her feelings about the abortion, and that her abortion has been causing problems for her. She now seeks out professional help or a woman’s post-abortion support programme and is beginning to hope that she can finally find a way to deal with her problems.

Stage 7—Forgiveness stage (finding out how to forgive oneself, how to forgive the people one is angry at, naming and asking the baby for forgiveness).

Stage 8—Beginning peace. At this stage, although the loss of the baby is still painful, the woman is beginning to see a future and reasons for living. She sees a lessening of her PASS symptoms and triggers.

Stage 9—Full peace. At this stage, women have totally forgiven themselves, the man involved and anyone else who they felt contributed to their abortion. They feel at peace with the loss of their child, about the abortion in general, and at peace with themselves.

Given that women are generally expected to “get over the abortion” and “move on with their lives”, and many never get beyond Stage 5 above, what might be the implications for the overall mental well-being of the nation? Should we be concerned?

A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064;