By Hilary White

LONDON, May 5, 2008 ( – In the May 2 installment of his regular health feature in The Times, Dr. Thomas Stuttaford responded to a reader who complained of a loss of interest in sex following an abortion. “Though my boyfriend and I agreed it was the right thing to do, I feel guilty and I’ve gone off sex,” wrote the questioner. Dr. Stuttaford responded by saying that loss of libido after an abortion is “so common that it can almost be said to be expected”.

Asked if the feelings would pass, Stuttaford wrote, “It is possible, but by no means inevitable, that the changes this will have wrought in the way you feel about a future together may have irretrievably undermined your relationship.”

Indeed, Dr. Stuttaford observed that in “years of experience with patients” has “reinforced the teaching I received in my early medical life that even the most ardent affair may not survive an abortion, although both partners often remain good friends. Frequently, there has been too much emotion around, even if there have been no spoken recriminations. The shadow of the decision to have the termination, and any doubts one or other may have had about this deep down in their psyche, means that sooner or later they will be tempted to start again with, as if it were, a clean slate.”

Stuttaford referred to a study, authored “about 15 years ago,” that he said showed that although “nearly all” women suffer feelings of guilt and grief following abortion, the effects usually passed within a month.

“My own opinion,” he writes, “is that the American research workers were unduly sanguine in expecting women to jettison guilt and overcome their feelings of loss – the grief response – within just a month.”

Statistical research by the Elliot Institute shows that, in many cases, the emotional effects of abortion are still discernable eight weeks after an abortion. In one study, two months after their abortions, 44 percent of women complained of nervous disorders, 36 percent had experienced sleep disturbances, 31 percent had regrets about their decision and 11 percent had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor.

But Dr. Stuttaford quickly assures his questioner that “neither of you should assume blame or feel guilty.”

The Times health feature was followed by comments from Suzi Godson, a journalist and a graphic designer who has recently published a book titled, “The Sex Book” who exhorted readers, “Be kind to yourself, and your partner, and be grateful that you live in a country where abortion is both safe and legal.”

In her comments Godson, like most supporters of abortion, dismisses post-abortive stress syndrome as a “pseudo-scientific condition” put forward by the pro-life movement. But loss of interest in sex is, as Stuttaford admits, is a well-documented result of abortion. Godson points out that the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has concluded that abortion in young women “might be associated with mental health problems” and that the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends updating abortion information leaflets to include mention of the risk of depression.

The Elliot Institute study showed that thirty to fifty percent of women experience sexual dysfunction, of both short and long duration, beginning immediately after their abortions.

Fr. Timothy Finigan, a Catholic priest and founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life, commented on the column, saying that Britain is “a country where abortion is presented as ‘safe’,” and where possible consequences of abortion are seldom mentioned to women.

“Where this life has been crushed by abortion, it is surely only natural and to be expected that the urge to engage in the same life-giving activity should be muted,” he observed.

But for Fr. Finigan, the woman was asking Dr. Stuttaford the wrong question. It is not loss of libido that is the danger, “it is the secular sanctification of libido that has brought about the destruction of so many millions of human lives.”

“Nevertheless it is another feature in the whole sorry story of routinely available abortion. I wonder how many women are told about this ‘expected’ phenomenon before they consent to an abortion?”