What Exactly Is Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS)


Joan Appleton was the head nurse at Commonwealth [Abortion]
Clinic. Joan was a very active member in the National Organization
for Women (NOW). As a registered nurse, she felt she had a wonderful
opportunity to practice and voice her beliefs in pro-choice.

She was convinced that pro-choice was truly the best thing for women
and began to work more and more with organizations like Planned
Parenthood, NARAL and NAF. As a nurse she was issuing birth control
pills to women after abortions and comments, “This is where I
learned the real business, the real work of the abortion industry.”
Joan explains that abortion clinic workers handed out low-dose
birth control pills with a high failure rate. They also neglected to tell
women that taking a birth control pill while on antibiotics interferes
with the action of the pill, making it useless. In this way, when their
birth control failed, they were able to get more women to come in
for abortions.

Joan explains, “I often saw women who were injured emotionally
by abortion. However, my supervisor told me, ‘If she’s having a
problem after her abortion, it’s because she was having a problem
before her abortion.’”

But it kept bothering Joan while she was head nurse at the clinic.
“Why was it such an emotional trauma for a woman and such a difficult
decision, if it was a natural thing to do? If it was right, why was
it so difficult? I had to ask myself that all the time. I counseled these
women so well, they were so sure of their decision. So why were they
coming back now, months and years later, psychological wrecks?”

Joan continues to explain that in the pro-choice movement and abortion
industry, “We deny that there is any post-abortion syndrome. Yet
it is real, and they do come back, and I couldn’t deny their presence,
and their numbers were increasing, and I kept asking, Why?”

Joan soon realized that she wasn’t helping women at all. Joan writes:
If I was right, why are they suffering? What have we done?
We created a monster, and now we don’t know what to do
with it. We created a monster so that we could now be pawns
to the abortion industry, those of us women who really, really
still believe in women’s rights. Those of us who still believe
in care and are pro-woman, who still believe that we
are worth something, we are intelligent, we aren’t doormats,
we aren’t something to be used, and we used ourselves. We
abused ourselves.

We refer to these very real psychological effects as Post Abortion
Stress Syndrome (or PASS). Proponents of abortion often deny the
existence of PASS. This brings additional pressure to bear on women
who are feeling the negative effects of abortion, but are told that
their feelings are not real or necessary.

However, Susanne Babbel, PhD, MFT, a psychologist specializing in
trauma and depression has the following to say: “No matter your
philosophical, religious, or political views on abortion, the fact of the
matter is, the actual experience can affect women not only on a personal
level but can potentially have psychological repercussions.”

Dr. Babbel goes on to explain:
Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is the name that has
been given to the psychological aftereffects of abortion,
based on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is
important to note that this is not a term that has been
accepted by the American Psychiatric Association or the
American Psychological Association. Nevertheless, any event
that causes trauma can indeed result in PTSD, and abortion
is no exception.

How widespread is Post Abortion Stress Syndrome and the trauma
on women (and men) brought on by abortion?
Nearly everyone agrees that feelings of loss and depression follow at
some point after an abortion. Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS)
describes more severe and extensive trauma that may include:

  • Self-harm, strong suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Increase in dangerous and/or unhealthy activities
    (alcohol/drug abuse, anorexia/bulimia, compulsive
    over-eating, cutting, casual and indifferent sex and
    other inappropriate risk-taking behaviors)
  • Depression that is stronger than just ‘a little sadness or
    the blues’
  • Inability to function normally in her job or in school
  • Inability to take care of or relate to her existing children
    or function normally in her other relationships (i.e. with
    a spouse, partner, other family members or friends)
  • Inability to performInability to function normally in her job or in school normal self-care activities£A desire to immediately get pregnant and ‘replace’ the
    baby that was aborted.

In addition to the above, PASS sometimes does not appear until months or even many years after an abortion and may continue for months and even years. Other short- and long-term PASS symptoms may include:

  • Emotions, and dealing with emotional issues
  • Anxiety and panic disorder
  • Difficulty sleeping and sleeping problems
  • Disturbing dreams and/or nightmares
  • Problems with phobias, or increase in severity of
    existing phobias
  • Repeated unplanned pregnancies with additional
  • Repeated unplanned pregnancies carried to term
  • “Atonement marriage,” where the woman marries the
    partner from the abortion, to help justify the abortion
  • Distress at the sight of or socializing with other
    pregnant women, other people’s babies and children
  • Co-dependence and inability to make decisions easily
  • Problems with severe and disproportionate anger
  • Distress and problems with later pregnancy
  • Added emotional issues and problems when dealing
    with future infertility or other physical complications
    resulting from the abortion
  • Unhealthy obsession with excelling at work or school
    to justify the abortion
  • Obsessive Pro-life or Pro-choice activism
  • A lesbian lifestyle


The above article was taken from The Power of Your Story, the women’s curriculum of Abortion Anonymous, Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *