Many of these women cannot go outside for fear of “triggers”—the sight or sound of things that will bring back the abortion experience and cause panic attacks. Triggers include the sound of a vacuum cleaner (many abortions are done by the vacuuming out of the fetus from the uterus) or the music that was playing at the abortion clinic while the abortion was being performed. The sight of pregnant women, or maternity clothes, or babies, or toddlers, or school-children, or of the place (even the neighborhood or town) where the abortion took place can all serve as triggers. Other triggers are anniversaries of all kinds, especially of the abortion and of the EBD (expected birth date), and, in particular, Mother’s Day.
What is particularly striking is that most of the women who have these powerful emotional reactions to their abortion are stunned by them. They were not opposed to abortion; many were actively pro-choice. They were blind-sided by their own reaction. One woman lamented—and thousands of others echo her mystified anguish—“If this was the right decision, why do I feel so terrible?”
Research indicates that there are various psychological or political factors that may contribute to this disconnect between the anticipated and the actual emotional outcome. Since this disturbing phenomenon is so widespread, and found among women from varied backgrounds and different parts of the world, it seems likely that the brain itself—in particular, the nature of women’s brains—may shed some particularly useful light on this unexpected negative emotional reaction.
The authors go on to list various types of trauma. One of the co-authors is Dr. Paul C. Vitz, who wrote an amazing book on why people become atheists. Here’s an essay on the topic. I’ve got the book – it came all shrink-wrapped! Weird.
You may also be interested in the New Zealand study on abortion and women’s mental health that I blogged about before.