Hundreds of Chilean psychologists affirm: post-abortion trauma is real, damaging
January 7, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of over two hundred mental health professionals are refuting an attempt by the Chilean College of Psychologists to minimize the trauma suffered by women who have had abortions, with a new document citing numerous studies that demonstrate the reality of post-traumatic stress in abortion patients.
The document, “Abortion and Women’s Mental Health,” (click here for report in English, here for Spanish) was signed by 151 Chilean psychologists, 47 psychiatrists, and 10 medical doctors, and published in early December. It warns that “apart from the death of the unborn” there exists “sufficient evidence to demonstrate that abortion causes damage to the mental health of women and their families.”
“Lamentably,” they add, “this information has been omitted in a document published recently by the Chilean College of Psychologists,” which ignores “the conclusions of various qualitative and quantitative studies that demonstrate the damage that is caused to the mother who has an abortion.”
“Even more, there exists no evidence whatsoever that demonstrates that abortion is favorable to or is restorative of the mental health of women who find themselves in these difficult situations,” the mental health professionals write (boldface in original document).
The protest was made public in response to the Chilean College of Psychologists’ recent statement, “Mental Health and Therapeutic Abortion in Cases of Vital Risk to the Woman, Fetal Inviability, and Rape” (Salud mental y aborto terapéutico por riesgo vital de la mujer, inviabilidad fetal y violación).
The document, which was authored by the College’s “Commission on Gender and Sexual Diversity,” implies that women in Chile are treated as “inferiors” and are “excluded” from the society due to the Catholic religion’s honor of the Virgin Mary, and claims that the association of paternity with men and maternity with women is a “cultural construction.”
“An undesired pregnancy and its forcible continuation has implications for the mental health of women owing to the experience of subordination of those who wish to end their pregnancy and don’t have the legal option to do so,” they write.
The College of Psychologists further claims that “in light of the best scientific evidence available it is possible to establish that ‘Post Abortion Syndrome’ does not exist.” They cite the far-left American Psychological Association to support their assertion, among other sources.
The protesting psychologists and psychiatrists respond by acknowledging that “there does not effectively exist a specific illness called ‘Post Abortion Syndrome,’ just as there does not exist a ‘Post Rape Syndrome,’ or a ‘Post Combat Syndrome,’ etc. However, the fact that there does not exist a ‘diagnostic’ to name this condition called ‘Post Abortion Syndrome,’ does not in any way mean that there is no risk of developing a psychological or psychiatric disorder stemming from an abortion.” They cite numerous peer-reviewed studies that indicate that women are, in fact, likely to suffer psychological damage from abortion.
The report of the Chilean College of Psychologists was issued as the Chilean national congress prepares to vote on legislation that would legalize abortion in three cases: danger to the life of the mother, fetal deformity, and rape. Although the report seeks to justify abortion in all circumstances in which a child is “unwanted,” it focuses particularly on rape cases, emphasizing the trauma suffered by rape victims as a rationale for abortion.
The dissenting psychologists respond that the College of Psychologists is using the rape of women for political purposes. “It seems to us that using the suffering of a woman who has suffered a sexual assault as a tool for validating the murder of a human being in gestation, is at least troubling coming from a professional association,” they write.
“The idea that the killing of innocents can alleviate the pain of a rape and its psychic consequences is to use this horrifying reality as an instrument, casting aside the complex factors that are involved. ... To propose abortion as a ‘treatment’ for rape, in circumstances in which there exist a vast quantity of literature that supports the effectiveness of many psychosocial and biological treatments, among which abortion is never mentioned, reveals an ideological posture, lacking in any serious theoretic foundation.”
The protesting psychologists conclude by denouncing the Chilean College of Psychologists for politicizing science and failing to meet basic standards for scientific reports: “With this, the College of Psychologists is not only guilty of a methodological error, but also loses seriousness and credibility.”
Chile reformed its abortion law in 1989, prohibiting the killing of the unborn in all circumstances, although medical treatments for life-threatening illnesses that cause unintended abortions are not regarded as falling under the law.
Although pro-abortion organizations frequently claim that the unavailability of legal abortion leads to higher maternal mortality rates from illegal abortions, the opposite has been the case in Chile, which has the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America, and one of the lowest in the world. Moreover, the rate of illegal abortion has actually declined since 1989, confounding the predictions of abortion legalization advocates.
Read a full translation of the dissenting psychologists’ report here: Abortion and Women’s Mental Health: A Response to the Chilean College of Psychologists