The medicos in Denmark have concluded, to the great collective sigh of relief from liberationists everywhere, that abortion does not harm mental health.
And to spin the picture even faster, the study doubled down with the corollary that actually going through the bother of carrying the fetus to term and delivering it and, yuck, taking care of it, does.
That is: being a mother is more harmful to one's mental health than disposing of an unborn child.
At least, this is the quantified intelligence from some statisticians in the Danish medical community. Apparently in Denmark, at least, there is not so much grief anymore after the abortion procedure.
It seems that the multi-national, multi-institutional (including public education) full-court press to reframe abortion away from "infanticide" toward some sort of foggy, quasi-heroic "individual choice" has worked. The "reframing" is what has produced the decreased anguish after abortion.
This is hardly surprising. If you repeat anything long enough, you'll get over your conscience pangs. The first cookie stolen from the cookie jar will inflict grief on a mischievous little boy in the pantry. The second cookie somewhat less. The thousandth cookie is purloined with pride of achievement.
You can detect the same sort of "cookie psychology" from Dr. Nada Stotland on NPR's Morning Edition (1/27 /11). Dr. Stotland is a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago. She rightly warned of the real challenges of post-partum depression. But then she lapsed into the religious affirmation of "abortion-as-sacred-choice" liturgics:
The message then is that pregnancy poses mental health challenges for women, whether they choose to give birth or choose to have an abortion. Stotland says that's why women need friends and family to stand by them.
"They might not agree with your decision, that's not the same thing," Stotland said. "They have to support you, they have to know that no one else can make this decision but you."
The issue of post-partum depression is a complicated one. I think that its complexity is not appreciated nearly enough. It cannot be dismissed as a diagnosis that needs a handful of Prozac or Zoloft. Post-partum depression may indeed involve physiological components that require physiological interventions (like medication, perhaps).
But the post-partum "mental health challenges" are more likely to have something to do with the failure of the community to provide enough support for the new mother. By this, I mean more than the usual support of the family. I mean the whole religious and cultural supportive response that is symbolized by the traditional forty day withdrawal from society after delivery. Too many mothers are forced, by odious circumstance, to go back to work within weeks or even days of birth. Too many mothers think that they must re-emerge into society because they think they have an "identity" that will diminish if they don't act the part.
While I agree with the Danes that post-partum depression is a reality, I do not agree with them or Dr. Stotland that abortion is harmless to the mother (of course, nothing is said here of the child's health). I doubt the wished-for "harmlessness" extremely.
I know, from past clinical experience, that the absence of remorse or "proportionate emotional response" is itself a symptom of something worse going on. In the halcyon days of mental health treatment in the early nineties, we clinicians would get alarmed when someone did not grieve sufficiently over an event that we thought he should grieve about. We were bothered enough by the absence of sufficient empathy that we checked off bulleted lists in our handy DSM manuals.
The absence of grief after abortion does not at all demonstrate mental health. It may, after all, indicate a deeper syndrome.
A syndrome that is colluded with by the statistics of the Danes.
And the AMA, it seems, and the APA, and most of the medical community.