Author: has written 5302 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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40 Responses

  1. Ms. Clear
    Ms. Clear January 21, 2007 at 7:36 pm |

    I read this article this morning and was particularly impressed by the conclusion and the “repentance” aspect of this strain of anti-choice activism.

    Really, these women have a “Dawn Eden” issue. Their choices left them with grief and they want everyone to, regardless of their particular mindset, to have those painful (for them) options taken away.

    It’s all about projection. Add in some charismatic, fundamentalist Christianity and of course you’re going to have some really hardcore, dedicated women who want to take our reproductive rights away.

  2. Frumious B
    Frumious B January 21, 2007 at 7:45 pm |

    her boyfriend, whom Jacqui met in church.


    (at the irony, not at the pregnant kid)

  3. twf
    twf January 21, 2007 at 8:22 pm |

    In the years since my abortion, I have become much less depressed, got a bachelor’s and master’s degree, started a PhD program, and met and married a fabulous man.

    Using the Eden-Arias extrapolation technique, I suggest abortion for everyone! Abortions all around! Maybe Dawn Eden should have one, it might help her “catch” a husband.

  4. Medbh
    Medbh January 21, 2007 at 9:09 pm |

    I also read this today and it pissed me off to no end. Poor Rhonda Arias had a terribly traumatic life and she blames the abortions rather than the men who abused her and pushed her into drug addiction? Was anyone else dismayed that she asked her 6 and 9 yr old girls for absolution for having legal medical procedures to terminate pregnancy? Compulsory pregnancy is going to devastate more women and children than abortion ever could. But women get applause from the big boys for being so eager to surrender physical and psychological autonomy.

  5. n3rdchik
    n3rdchik January 21, 2007 at 9:59 pm |

    twf –

    I second the abortion-to-happiness path. 12 years later, I am happily married (for almost a decade) with 2 great kiddos, great job and in a much healthier mental state.

  6. wolfa
    wolfa January 21, 2007 at 10:05 pm |

    You know, sometimes you make the right choice, and you regret it anyhow. I don’t doubt that certain choices I made were the right ones — but I do wish they hadn’t been, that the situation had been otherwise. (Not to say that every woman who has an abortion is in this situation, but everyone’s had this situation come up somewhere in their life.)

    She glides over all the subtleties — which makes life easier, I understand, and if it works in her life, then good for her, but you can’t extrapolate black and white to the rest of the world. And she doesn’t seem to accept that yes, the right choice can be a sad choice.

  7. Karen
    Karen January 21, 2007 at 10:23 pm |

    I have two friends who had abortions — one in college and one because she got a Downs amnio — and both of them were pretty miserable afterward. Both of them, however, attributed their misery to the actual causes, not their abortions. In the first case, it was the ending of a promising relationship and in the second case it was the loss of a wanted pregnancy. (Second woman already had a daughter and later had a healthy son.) Nothing was going to make those facts go away, but forcing them to continue their pregnancies really wouldn’t help. Sometimes, you have to make the best of a bad set of choices and deal with it. I’m terribly sorry Ms. Arias had such a terrible life, but making other people’s lives terrible isn’t going to fix her problems. Oh, and did anyone else think that maybe being in prison was a bigger factor in the prisoners’ depression than their abortions were?

  8. Equine Shine » Post-Abortion Syndrome: Women Need Protection from Themselves

    […] ection from Themselves
    Posted by The Equine under Uncategorized 

    Feministe has a great article on the Post-Abortion pseudosyndrome with r […]

  9. Sniper
    Sniper January 21, 2007 at 10:31 pm |

    Oh, for dog’s sake. I’ve had long-lasting effects, including depression, every single time I’ve had surgery. If only some well meaning person had come along and stopped me from having my wisdom teeth aborted, um, removed.

  10. Julie
    Julie January 21, 2007 at 10:33 pm |

    I don’t doubt for a second that some women can and do feel an immense amount of regret because of an abortion. I have a family member, in fact, who had one and still 25 years later regrets her decision and wishes she could go back. I know that she struggles with a great deal of guilt and had some bouts of depression and I feel horrible for her. That being said, her experience is not what I would consider the norm. Of everyone I know who’s had an abortion, I know several people who don’t regret it at all, a few women who regret it very much and a friend who regrets it only because she didn’t realize how far along she was before the procedure and now that she’s a mom says she couldn’t have another one that far along (I think she was like 14 weeks?). I definately think it’s important to acknowledge any feeling a woman has after an abortion, it’s when you extrapolate that to everyone that the trouble starts. An abortion can be (not always of course) a major life decision, so it only makes sense that some people are going to second guess their decision, just like adoption or giving birth. It doesn’t mean we need to start outlawing all major decisions. You can do the right thing and still have it hurt. When we induced labor early with my son, it was a really tough decision and it hurt to have to do it. It hurt a lot, in fact., it was the worst decision I’ve ever had to make, I wish I’d never had to make it. That being said, I did and I know I made the right choice for me, my son and my family.

  11. Ursula
    Ursula January 21, 2007 at 10:40 pm |

    Gee, I didn’t go through any major psychological trauma after choosing to have an abortion. If I had carried the unwanted pregnancy to term, I would have been depressed for many reasons. I am a compassionate human being and having an abortion in the past doesn’t mean I am not normal today. What is wrong with fundie whack jobs that they can’t keep their damn noses out of other people’s lives, business and underwear?

  12. ako
    ako January 21, 2007 at 10:44 pm |

    Oh, and did anyone else think that maybe being in prison was a bigger factor in the prisoners’ depression than their abortions were?

    Or the fact that they’re women who sought out post-abortion counseling, yeah. Similar faulty logic is used by the ex-gay movement.

    Apparently people who seek out therapy to change their sexual orientation tend to have emotional problems which they attribute to their sexuality. Similarly, women who go to post-abortion counselors are likely to have problems which they attribute to their abortion. If you set up counseling for people who’d been raised in the house with pets, and went out of your way to claim that all childhood unhappiness could be blamed on the family dog, you’d get a high percentage of participants having identifiable emotional problems, and attributing it to their pets. Not that tricky, really.

  13. j0lt
    j0lt January 21, 2007 at 10:58 pm |

    I read Arias’ approach like all conservative evangelical approaches (especially of the “don’t make the same mistake I did” kind). They didn’t like making the choice and/or didn’t like the choice they made so they want to eliminate the hard decisions for everyone so there is no choice.

    One thing that bugged me about the Bazelon article is that it mentions early on that this is a tiny minority in the anti-abortionrights movement, but that it has been gaining a lot of political power and attention. My reaction was – great and here we are giving it even more power and attention by putting it in the NYT magazine & making it the cover story. Ugh.

  14. Tapetum
    Tapetum January 21, 2007 at 11:07 pm |

    Checking the patients at post-abortion counseling to determine the percentage of women who regret their abortions is like examining the bottom of Lake Ontario to determine what percentage of the population wears cement shoes.

  15. Peter
    Peter January 21, 2007 at 11:09 pm |

    This is like so many other things, including the whole ex-gay drama.

    Even if it is absolutely real in some cases, that doesn’t mean it extends to everyone in similar circumstances. If – if! – there is a real risk, the appropriate thing to do is identify the risk so people can make an informed decision, not outlaw the decision itself.

    “If you choose this, these are some possible consequences some people report experiencing. If they happen, seek support.”

    The real problem isn’t that there might be some women who get an abortion and experience trauma. The real problem is the people who then say to them, “well, what do you expect, you whore?”

  16. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 21, 2007 at 11:11 pm |

    This “post-abortion syndrome” sounds like a lot of wishful thinking by abortion opponents.

    Oh, well, at least they’re no longer claiming that abortion causes breast cancer. (Or are they?)

  17. Tuna
    Tuna January 21, 2007 at 11:12 pm |

    I just realized that I used to have a drug problem because, as a man, I couldn’t handle the trauma of the existence of abortion. Right? Maybe I should start an outreach program here in Houston, too.

  18. Jenny Dreadful
    Jenny Dreadful January 21, 2007 at 11:43 pm |

    Insane. You know what causes post-abortion depression? Underfunded reproductive health clinics and protesters who scream obscenities at women as they slip through the doors.

  19. PG
    PG January 22, 2007 at 1:25 am |

    If doing something causes relatively few people who do it to become depressed, and that minority justifies banning that thing, does that mean we’re going to ban combat because soldiers come home with PTSD? I bet we’ll find a larger proportion of soldiers have committed suicide due to their experience of war than proportion of women have committed suicide due to their experience of abortion. Yet elective wars get the vote of most of Congress, while elective abortion is always subject to being prohibited if the Supreme Court reverses Roe/ Casey. I guess this goes back to the old protectionism: we can’t let women decide for themselves whether to have a potentially traumatic experience, but we can force (mostly) men into a traumatic experience.

  20. Kim
    Kim January 22, 2007 at 1:49 am |

    I felt kinda depressed after my abortion.. because that $500 could’ve funded a small shopping spree (or a largish one, if I went to Target).

    Oh, well, at least they’re no longer claiming that abortion causes breast cancer. (Or are they?)

    Some people still are.

  21. Bolo
    Bolo January 22, 2007 at 3:13 am |

    Oh, well, at least they’re no longer claiming that abortion causes breast cancer. (Or are they?)

    I definitely saw that on anti-abortion displays at my college campus just a few years ago. So, yeah… they still do.

  22. Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony  » Blog Archive   » Blog for Choice day: a tale from the front

    […] women.” As my example and BitingBeaver’s also demonstrate. Jill of Feministe got in early. Maia at Alas, a Blog gives the view from N […]

  23. Oren
    Oren January 22, 2007 at 5:50 am |

    I read the original piece and I must say your narrative improved it significantly. Thank you, Jill, for an excellent and insightful bit of morning reading.

  24. Katie
    Katie January 22, 2007 at 6:35 am |

    Jenny Dreadful Says: Insane. You know what causes post-abortion depression? Underfunded reproductive health clinics and protesters who scream obscenities at women as they slip through the doors.

    I couldn’t agree more. The most distressing part of the day I had my abortion was getting out of the car and walking thought the throng of protesters who get right in one’s face and one’s personal space (I found this particularly distressing as I am slightly agoraphobic) to scream lies and half truths at one.

    While I was undergoing the procedure my partner and best friend who had accompanied me to the clinic went for a walk, they had to restrain each other as the hoard of protesters verbally assalted them and violated their personal space.

    I was relieved after the procedure to be told by the security staff that the protesters had packed up for the day and we would not be hassled on the way out as I was generally frightened for my safety.

  25. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom January 22, 2007 at 7:38 am |

    Checking the patients at post-abortion counseling to determine the percentage of women who regret their abortions is like examining the bottom of Lake Ontario to determine what percentage of the population wears cement shoes

    I just snorted salsa up my nose while reading this. Let’s outlaw salsa!

  26. Sunrunner
    Sunrunner January 22, 2007 at 9:11 am |

    During the 70s and early 80s, the idea that abortion was traumatic was unheard of. The interesting thing is that more women seemed more willing to be open about it outside their close circles of relationships, I think because the morality police hadn’t yet taken control of the “conversation” as they have now. The risk of being accused of murder wasn’t so prevalent. Yes, there were demonstrators outside of clinics sometimes, but “mainstream” society regarded them more as fringe nutcases than they do now.

    However, it was known that some women were “sad” after an abortion, very often because of forces outside the woman’s control (economics, relationships gone bad, conflicts with career or educational aspirations, etc) were not “good”.

    But over the years, the anti-abortion crowd has been extremely successful in convincing women that a) abortion is akin to murder and b) that women who become pregnant in an unplanned way are “slutty” or stupid. So in addition to the pain of abortion (which has gotten better over the years), women have had to deal with societal shame. I think that an awful lot of women who choose to have an abortion do so even though they have bought into the fundamentalist argument that abortion is a sin (I read an interesting stat re the number of young christian girls who have abortions which is not insignificant), but they choose the sin rather than bring a child into the world in a less than ideal situation, and then go into a shame-based posture. And I would argue that the shame is the source of the trauma that many women now experience.

  27. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 22, 2007 at 9:16 am |

    Yes, you read that right — these people receive federal funding.

    I’m nostalgic for that episode of the West Wing where Josh takes a federally-funded study on remote prayer to the President so he can get the casting vote he needs on the foreign aid bill, and then is appalled when he realises he just tried to buy a vote for “$115,000 and the Bill of Rights”.

    It does make me nervous when the forced-birthers try to reframe the debate again – they’ll try any kind of sophistry to get their way, and I’m just worried some day one of these approaches will stick. And where the US fundies lead, our British ones are sure to try and follow.

    Keep up the good work, Jill, pulling these webs of deceit apart. And Tapetum – I had to disguise my snorts of laughter as a coughing fit…

  28. elyzabethe
    elyzabethe January 22, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    sidenote, really, but grey’s anatomy last week had an Abortion Episode, and they did a pretty good job of showing that the woman who had the abortion (Addison) did not suffer any real negative effects from it, was not being punished in any way for it, and the only source of her discomfort on the day that the baby would have been born was because the asshole dude who impregnated her and didn’t want the baby either was guilt-tripping her about it … and in the end, he admitted that he wouldn’t have been a good father and she made the right decision …

    it’s always slightly shocking to see a tv show not portray someone who’s had an abortion not depressed/guilty/punished…

  29. Jewel
    Jewel January 22, 2007 at 10:53 am |

    Wolfa – agreed that sometimes the right choice can still be sad and difficult. My friend felt (emotionally) that she was killing her baby when she had an abortion, even though she knew it was the right choice for her. Almost three years later she doesn’t regret it a bit, and her life is so much better than it would be if she had a kid to deal with, but that doesn’t make it any less of a difficult, sad choice. The point is that it is a CHOICE and the choice must be available. No one but my friend could make that choice for her.

  30. Tom
    Tom January 22, 2007 at 11:25 am |

    By coincidence, I read this morning at the “News of the Weird” website about numerous cases of men who have had trauma as a result of attempted penis-enlargement operations (why didn’t they just buy a Hummer like the other guys?). So if we’re going to talk about outlawing any kind of medical procedure because of the trauma it may or may not cause, it seems like THAT would be much better place to start! Or, what if the anti-circumcision people jump on the bandwagon of outlawing medical procedures based on possible trauma?

  31. jm
    jm January 22, 2007 at 11:40 am |

    I’m glad that someone already pointed out how sad it is that Arias blames abortion for her problems, rather than the men who actually abused her. Because she could have controlled herself, but they couldn’t control their own actions.

    And I love the quote by Koop:

    Nor did Koop believe that the anti-abortion cause would be served by shifting its focus to the suffering of women. “As soon as you contaminate the morality of your stand by getting worried about the health effects of abortion on women, you have weakened the whole thing,” he said at the time in an interview with the Rutherford Institute, a conservative law center.

    Koop believes we must concentrate all moral arguments on feti- the suffering of women does not deserve moral or ethical consideration. This seems like the essence of the anti-abortion movement.

  32. lizzie bee
    lizzie bee January 22, 2007 at 12:00 pm |

    Gaaahh… the use of “contaminate” in that quote…like women are literally a disease that must be isolated from Teh Preshus Feti.

    I just ran the gauntlet at a Planned Parenthood, and this makes me even sicker.

  33. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom January 22, 2007 at 12:36 pm |

    I love this quote:

    “Abstinence works better than birth control, really,” she said. “It’s just that people don’t do it.”

    Well, yes, that is a problem, isn’t it.

  34. maatnofret
    maatnofret January 22, 2007 at 1:45 pm |


    Another TV abortion moment that I appreciated was in the now-defunct show “Six Feet Under.” Claire, the youngest daughter, finds out that she is pregnant after an ugly breakup. (Her reaction to the positive pregnancy test was also accurate: she looks at it as says, “Shit.”)

    Claire didn’t torture herself over her decision. She was pretty businesslike about the whole thingm, scheduling the abortinon as soon as she knew. Her biggest problem was finding a ride to the clinic.

  35. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil January 22, 2007 at 3:43 pm |

    Bazelon doesn’t add it up in the article, but the woman she’s profiling has had eight pregnancies (3 children living with her, 4 abortions, and a child given up for adoption). Maybe she would have been better served by programs that support pregnant women who are in abusive relationships, struggle with addiction, etc., rather than by programs that make women feel guilty for having abortions.

  36. Pesh
    Pesh January 22, 2007 at 3:50 pm |

    I consider my abortion one of the BEST DECISIONS I have ever made – and that’s with 25+ years hindsight… I have never had a moment of regret, to the contrary I’m glad I made that choice, and didn’t buy into the societal messages about how ALL women want to be mothers (not true) or the sanctity of life (as far as I’m concerned it is a biological process) or that women don’t have a right to make decisions about their own life and bodies because some stranger “believes differently.”

    Yes, yes, and yes again to the comments that a big part of the trauma is because of this silly societal message that abortion is wrong that is rammed down women’s throats. And to not connect the trauma of an unwanted pregnancy (and the life circumstances that may have led up to that) with (if there are) feelings of regret, to me is distinctly lacking in self-awareness.

    Listen in (and help if you can) on some of the web forums set up to help women make the decision to abort or not to abort — I noted a distinct difference between those who said they had regret (they weren’t able to articulate the reasons for their decision and were looking to blame others for their choice) and those that did not feel regret (they may not have liked their choice, but they knew that it was their choice, and that they had control over their own lives.) Now that is generalizing, but the difference in response struck me significantly.

    What is wrong is the arrogance of women who think that everyone MUST think and feel and experience the way that they do because that is “their” belief system or experience.

    I wish for all women belief in themselves and their abilities…

  37. Pesh
    Pesh January 22, 2007 at 3:55 pm |

    I should add, that one of the things I also noted (on those abortion discussion forums) was that quite a few women felt that in order to be a good person, they had to feel regret and sadness about their abortion…

  38. Lazer
    Lazer January 22, 2007 at 5:01 pm |

    This is like walking under a ladder, having a heart-attack and then blaming the heart-attack on walking under the ladder.

    “In America we have a big drug problem, and we don’t realize it’s because of abortion.”

    Wow. So all the drug-addicts are addicted because they have all had abortions! Yes, even the men!!! *smashes head on keyboard*
    I don’t think they know, but there’s also this little thing called post-partum depression. I’ve heard so many stories of women unwillingly murdering their (already-born) babies by dashing them against walls and such. And apparently these were all extreme cases of post-partum depression. So yeah, you’d think then that these “abortion-recovery” people would want to ban childbirth as a whole because post-partum depression makes women feel terrible AND kills babies (in extreme cases only, but never mind that!!!) And as it said somewhere in there, it turns out that the incidence rates for post-partum and post-abortion depression are equal.
    *sigh* this is but one of the many ridiculous “arguments” that these people never tire of throwing at our faces hoping we’ll buy into them. I can’t stand it when these women are being prodded by these reactionnaries into using abortion as a catch-all for their lives’ problems, in order for them to be used as pawns, or as proof that “see?! even the WOMEN support us, take that feminists!!!” Disgusting.

  39. Ashlee
    Ashlee January 22, 2007 at 8:50 pm |

    Oh, and did anyone else think that maybe being in prison was a bigger factor in the prisoners’ depression than their abortions were?

    But don’t you see — being in prison was CAUSED by their abortion! /snark

  40. Ashlee
    Ashlee January 22, 2007 at 8:51 pm |

    ADD…on a sadder note…eventually the fundies want this to literally be true……

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