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NEW YORK, September 27, 2013 ( – An attorney in a high-profile child custody case says she is receiving death threats after asking whether abortion causes enduring stress in a case that has stirred the abortion debate in the Empire State.

Eleanor Alter represents Green Bancorp CEO Manuel “John” Mehos, who is seeking custody of his two young children from ex-wife, Lisa.

She had denied her ex the right to see his children over Easter weekend last year on the grounds that he is an atheist and she is a Christian. However, Alter says Lisa opted to ditch the kids with a relative and have an abortion.


Lisa Mehos aborted her child six months after the couple's divorce in 2011, when her other children were aged 2 and 4. The aborted child was fathered by another man.

On September 16, Alter said she wanted to raise the issue of post-abortion trauma, because she thought Lisa was “presumably somewhat traumatized by this. It affects the children, and that’s really the point.”

“This is a woman who complains that she’s under great stress only caused by Mr. Mehos,” Alter told the court. “I would be the first person to acknowledge that having an abortion, especially a two- to three-month late abortion, would be stressful.”

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler ruled that Alter would be allowed to question Lisa about the abortion's effect, because it called into question whether a man had stayed in the apartment with her two children, something Lisa Mehos vehemently denied.

“I think it is crucial that we all remember what is at stake here, and that is your two young children,” she said.

But the news of Alter's line of question  quickly percolated throughout the pro-choice blogosphere.


On Thursday, Alter said pro-abortion advocates had harassed and threatened her. One anonymous caller told her over the phone, “Die, pro-life b—h!”

While she does not believe her life is in danger, “I just want the record to reflect that I’m now receiving threats,” she said.

Lisa Mehos' attorney, Emily Jane Goodman, has complained that allowing that line of questioning “would set women's rights and the rights of choice back in a way I can't imagine.”

Goodman also blasted the line as irrelevant and unfit for a sophisticated venue like New York City. “This might go over well in Texas or Mississippi but not here,” she said.

Jessica Wakeman of The Frisky agreed, writing, “it’s galling this judge (in New York City, of all places) would grant the request for a past abortion to be used as evidence.”

Meanwhile, feminists stood outside the Manhattan Civil Court this week wearing “I had an abortion” T-shirts.

Therapist Michelle Ascher Dunn told the New York Daily News that she believe's Mehos' abortion would have no impact on her parenting style. “You can make a private decision” about abortion “and it can have nothing to do with your children,” she said.

However, a large and growing body of scientific evidence contradict her statement.

A 2011 meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, as increased alcoholism, drug abuse, and shattered relationships, among post-abortive women.

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A 2008 study by the University of Oslo in Norway found that young post-abortive women are more likely to become depressed.

In 2005, Finland’s National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health (STAKES) studied the deaths of all women of reproductive age over a 13-year period (1987-2000). It found deaths from suicide, accidents, and homicide are 248 percent higher in the year following an abortion, while women who had given birth in the past year had the lowest likelihood of death.

But post-abortive women don't need studies to tell them about the harm abortion causes.

British reality TV star Gemma Collins recently revealed her abortion led to a downward spiral of self-harm, including cutting herself and eating disorders.

When CNN asked for women to share stories of their abortions in February, the vast majority expressed sadness and a feeling of loss.

Abortion can affect siblings even when the mother shows no signs of trauma. One person wrote a letter to her aborted half-sibling, asking, “Is it possible to miss someone you’ve never even met?…because my heart longs for you. It longs for you to have life.”

“I miss you. I love you,” the letter continued. “I’m so sorry no one loved you.”

Many post-abortive women have found acceptance, support, and emotional healing through ministries like Rachel's Vineyard, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Operation Outcry, and Project Rachel