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Post-Abortion Syndrome

The Shadows Abortion Casts on Women and Men, Families and Countries

Philip G. Ney, MD, FRCPC, MA, FRANZCP, RPsych

Presented at:

19th Annual Congress for the Family

Saturday, May 19, 1999

Geneva, Switzerland


To destroy helpless unborn children is to destroy the family, which is to destroy the nation. When the roots of a tree are destroyed, every leaf will wither and every branch will die. The way in which humans treat their pre_born, helpless young is the root of human survival. It is inconceivable that a tree would destroy its own roots, yet humans are distorting the fine ecological balances that sustain our species. The shadows an abortion casts extend not just to the woman, but to her partner, her family and, ultimately, to her nation. The net impact of abortion can be measured in many ways. One way is to examine the decreasing birth rate that is becoming worldwide. Another way is to note increasing rates of violent crimes and suicides. Abortion kills hope and shrivels every leaf of the human family tree. Abortion is destroying humanity and distorting reality.

The Gospel states that the Truth will set you free. We cannot have freedom without truth. We cannot see any kind of truth in others or in the world until we face the most painful truth in ourselves. That truth is our killing, or allowing to be killed, an innocent, trusting pre_born baby. There is only one truth, and therefore science and Scripture must and do agree. Truth will triumph. You cannot suppress truth indefinitely. If you embrace truth there is short term pain but long term gain. If you run from truth, there is a short apparent gain but a much greater degree of long term pain, chaos, individual and collective death. The most important truth is the most painful truth, but the most painful truth is the most deeply buried both in our subconscious minds and in the archives of our nations. Until we face the most difficult truth in ourselves, we cannot be honest with ourselves or with others. Until we are honest with ourselves, there cannot be honesty or trust between individuals. Families and government cannot survive without trust, except for a short time by oppression.

Our survival is not built into our philosophy, but into our biology. Consequently, our survival has been safe up to this point. Now that we are able to undermine the biological basis of our human relationships, nobody is safe. Our deepest guilt comes from our tendency to destroy ourselves and our species by killing our own young. That basic guilt stems from transgressing the biological basis of our survival and does not arise from religion or morality.

Observers have the greatest responsibility in the tragic triangle of perpetrator, victim and observer. There are no innocent bystanders in matters of life and death. Yet, the observers usually provide the excuse, "I did not see, and besides, I could do nothing about it." If you are not promoting life, you are aiding death.

We cannot be part of the solution to human dilemmas until we see how we are part of the problem. Even the most staunch pro_lifer must wonder if there is any part of what they do or do not do that contributes to the massive problem of abortion. Until we understand the deepest conflicts of our painful past, we must re_enact our tragedy. We have no choice. We must understand, otherwise we die in entropy (lack of energy and chaos). The tendency to re_enact tragedy occurs in individuals, families and in nations in order to learn from our unresolved conflicts. Therefore, everyone in every nation must grapple with the devastation that results from abortion firstly in themselves and then in the nation, otherwise our species cannot survive. We are transgressing one of God's most fundamental laws, do not murder. In His disgust of what we are doing to unborn babies, I suspect He will soon allow us to experience the devastating consequence of our own stupidity. Silence and secrecy can no longer prevail. We are destroying ourselves, our families and our species.

Dehumanising and destroying unborn babies dehumanises us and destroys some of the most beautiful parts of the God_created human. Until we face this deep and widespread problem of abortion and until we acknowledge the truth in ourselves, there are increasingly wide consequences. The shadows that abortion casts on women, men, families and countries are better seen and more widely acknowledged in countries where abortion has been practised for a longer period of time. Eastern European people know in their hearts that abortion affects everyone in the family.

Post-Abortion Syndrome (Women)

Every woman becomes physically attached to her baby. What happens in the body is recorded in and encouraged by the mind. Therefore every woman becomes psychologically attached to every baby whether she wants the baby or not. Following an abortion, the mother may struggle with the following Post-Abortion Syndrome conflicts:

Grief. Every abortion requires mourning, but it is the most difficult grief known to humans. This is because the mother; 1) contributed to the death of the baby she now must mourn, 2) dehumanised the infant and must re-humanise the pre_born baby before she can grieve the loss of him or her, 3) was not been able to hold her dead baby's body (seeing and touching the dead body is necessary to precipitate grief), 4) received no social support or professional aid to grieve, 5) has unresolved ambivalence to the baby, herself, her partner, her family and the state. Pathological grief may result in depression, and depression can suppress the immune system. As a result, her general health is poor and she is more likely to have cancer and infection.

Fear. The mother now has fears, most of which come from fearing her own aggression. She has broken through her instinctual restraint to harming her own helpless young. She now knows she can kill, and she will not trust herself with her anger. Out of her fear she becomes more cautious with her emotions and hesitant in disciplining her children.

Identity. She has damaged her feminine identity. To compensate, she may pursue masculine interests and career, which activity may have an impact on her hormonal profile.

Self Worth. Her feelings of worthlessness arising from childhood abuse and neglect are accentuated. If she decides the unborn infant is worthless and that child is her best effort, then she herself is worthless. Occasions of panic, nightmares and rage may be expressed against herself in self_destructive behaviours.

Anger. She has a deep anger, often directed at men, because once again she has been abandoned in her time of need. This may result in poor heterosexual relationships and lack of intimacy.

Truncated Biorhythms. Abortion damages her biorhythms by truncating the long biological rhythm of pregnancy. She feels unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and may try hard to become pregnant again.

Retaliation. She fears that what she did by killing her baby will be done to her.

Poor Parenting. Anxiously attached, irritable children who make her feel inadequate as a parent. She has difficulty bonding to, touching, breastfeeding and responding normally to an infant's cry.

Abuse and Neglect. Our research has found that women who have been abused and neglected are more likely to have abortions. We also found that women who have had abortions are more likely to abuse and neglect their children. This is partly due to the following facts;

1. Mothers who have had previous abortions are more anxious and tend not to anticipate the birth of the subsequent child or prepare for his/her arrival.

2. Her fears of being punished for her abortion tend to cement themselves into a belief that her next baby will be malformed. Therefore she tends not to want to see it and only to deliver it under the most medically proficient conditions. She may want to be reassured repeatedly that her baby is normal, requesting repeated assurance and ultrasound.

3. After the birth of the baby after an abortion, she is more likely to be depressed and consequently has more difficulty bonding to the child. Children who are not well bonded are not well protected from the parent's rage and/or helplessness, therefore they are more likely to be abused and neglected.

4. The post_abortion mother has difficulty touching and caressing the baby. Therefore the baby's mind and body are not as well integrated.

5. The post_abortion mother has more difficulty breastfeeding a baby and therefore he/she is both less well nurtured physically and psychologically.

6. The baby, being not as well nurtured, is more unhappy and demanding, accentuating the mother's feeling of helplessness and worthlessness as a parent.

7. The post_abortion parents are more likely to respond to the baby's helpless cry with feelings of helplessness, anxiety and irritation. Thus the child is more likely to be neglected or aggressed in response to its demand for nurture.

Abortion Survivors

Women who are abortion survivors and who have also had an abortion suffer from a combination of the most difficult conflicts known to humans. If she is healthy and well_defended, these symptoms may not surface until some other trauma triggers the underlying conflicts.

Post-Abortion Syndrome (Men)

In most countries men have no legal right to stop an abortion. Fathers of aborted children are kept from asserting their prerogative of territoriality and protection. Because men fear their baby may at any time be killed by abortion without their awareness or consent, they tend not to attach themselves emotionally to their pre_born babies. Because they are not attached to the babies, they do not support the mother. Our research has shown that, other factors being equal, mothers not well supported by their partner are more likely to have more abortions and miscarriages. The more likely she is to have an abortion, the less likely he is to attach to the baby and thus ensues a vicious cycle. They feel deprived of their manhood, potency and helpfulness. As a result of the father's inability to protect his young, there is a deep underlying rage which, together with his feeling of helplessness, expresses itself in increasing rates of rape, marital violence, impotence and abandoning his family. Post-abortion grieving for men is more difficult than it is for women.

Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome

It is not lost on young minds that if the first right of every child is to be wanted, then if they are not wanted they have no right to be. Children born because they are wanted try to stay wantable. Eventually they resent living by the tenuous thread of wantedness and violently rebel. Children who live in countries where many or most children are aborted, or have siblings who were aborted, or who are part of a minority who would have been aborted had they been detected, or who have survived an abortion attempt, are abortion survivors. Most, if not all, children know when a brother or sister is aborted.

Abortion survivor's conflicts are;

a) survivor guilt. "I don't deserve to be alive when my sibling, just as good as I am, was arbitrarily killed."

b) existential anxiety. "I suspect some force over which I have no control will kill me just like it killed my unborn brother or sister."

c) ontological guilt. "I can't plan for the future or take advantage of my opportunities, so now I feel guilty for not becoming the person I could have been."

d) distrust of parents and parental authorities. "How can I trust my parents when they killed by unborn siblings. They said they did it in love for me. If that is what love and being a parent is all about, I don't want either."

e) no inherent worth. "They tell me they had me because they wanted me. If I am alive only because I am wanted, I have no inherent worth, so neither does anybody else. Without inherent value, it is not hard for me to die and it isn't hard to kill others."

f) superficial relationships. "My parents weren't really attached to me nor I to them, so how can I commit myself to others."

g) rage. "Why didn't the state or my father protect my aborted brother or sister? If they don't protect people when they are most vulnerable, why should I care what happens to them?"

A combination of these conflicts may result in angry, narcissistic, destructive young people. There are millions of abortion survivors who are all too ready to destroy or be destroyed.

Post-Abortion Syndrome (Grandparents)

Having aborted some of their children or having urged their children to abort, older people have a deep fear of retaliation. Recognising they are losing their wantedness, they desperately cling to their children who, in irritation, avoid them or put in an old age home. They fear their growing frailty and dependency, and may try to assert their last vestige of control with physician assisted suicide.

The Impact of Abortion on Medicine

Ignoring good science and discarding ancient ethics, medicine is ruled more by what can be done than by what should be done. Medicine should be ruled by wisdom and a concern for long_term benefit. There are no scientifically proven physical, psychological or social benefits to abortion. Psychiatric illness is a contraindication for abortion. Abortion is neither safe nor therapeutic. Lying about its benefit has made much of medicine dishonest and encouraged the population to be distrustful. As the credibility of and confidence in medicine declines, practising defensive medicine greatly increases the cost of medical care and the size of malpractice lawsuits grows

The Impact of Abortion on a Nation

Without purpose and hope, every nation declines. The presence of children makes us concerned about the quality of the future, the conservation of resources, the increase of civility of our interactions, and the promotion of art and science for those who follow. When there are few children, there is less hope. Without hope people are not inclined to have children. A vicious cycle of declining hope and fewer children creates a national atmosphere of apathy and hedonism. There is increasing evidence that when basic family nurturing and bonding mechanisms are undermined, there is little desire to have and protect children. Soon after, the declining birth_rate cannot be reversed by incentives or coercion. When humans kill or consent to the killing of defenceless innocent children, no law can maintain order, no one is safe. Random violence and chaos soon follow for now there is no moral or instinctual restraint to abandoning or attacking. Switzerland benefits from abortions in many countries. Billions of dollars are spent on anti-depressants and hypnotics for depressed and sleepless post-abortive people.

Healing from the damage of Abortion and Abuse

We must treat the whole family _ wounded mothers, fathers and siblings. The treatment requires facing the most difficult and painful experiences, grieving losses, facing anger, fear and guilt, effecting a reconciliation, and learning how to put painful truth into the practice of helping others. Having faced the most difficult truth, post_abortion parents are in a position to engage in the painful process of reconciliation. Since in the nations with oppression and abortion there are few who are not implicated as perpetrators, observers or victims, reconciliation must involve the whole nation. Everyone must forgive and be forgiven. It is possible the damage is too deep and extensive. The ecological imbalance is irreversible. We may not survive, but we must try and try immediately.

We must treat the wounded. The International Institute for Pregnancy Loss and Child Abuse Research and Recovery provides training in Hope Alive group counselling of those injured by child abuse and abortion.

Medicine must return to honest science and reinstate enduring ethics. We must welcome every child whenever, wherever, and whomever they may be. Every child is a part of us. To discriminate against and kill any pre_born babies because they are considered genetically inferior is the worst transgression of the poor. It is an abomination the Lord will not tolerate.


The evil of killing deepens and extends so that more pre_born babies will be first scapegoated then sacrificed by abortion in a vicious downward spiral. The Lord, the Creator, will not overlook what we are doing. He will judge the world, and that judgement always begins with His people.

We cannot benefit at the expense of another. If it is not good for black it is not good for white. If it is not good for the baby it is not good for the parents. We are tightly bound in the bundle of life. When we kill, we destroy humanity in ourselves. Abortion cuts the roots of human survival and causes the leaves of the tree to wither and the branches to die. When we love and nurture and welcome, we are loved; we grow and flourish. The damage from abortion to the individual, the family and the nation is very difficult to treat. There will always be irreparable damage and wounds. Yet considerable rehumanisation can occur with the insight, grieving, rehabilitation and reconciliation that are part of the Hope Alive group counselling program.

Saint Charbel for Life
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