Voices Online Edition
Medicine & Morality
Volume XVII, No. 4
Protecting Abortion, Forbidding Grief
by Nancy Valko, RN
A few years ago I was attending a concert at my daughter's high school when I asked her about a particularly lovely girl who played the violin beautifully. My daughter responded that she was considered the class "slut". At only 14 years of age!
This horrible designation was not the result of boys talking but rather because of a secret abortion confided to a close friend who told others. Soon the story sped throughout the school, victimizing this poor child even more. But it soon became even worse.
The distraught girl had also tried to commit suicide after the abortion, another "secret" that couldn't be kept. But instead of increasing their concern for their fellow student, some of the other students now called her crazy as well as the class slut.
I encouraged my daughter to talk to this girl and offer her our phone number or that of the local Project Rachel.1
But I had to wonder: where were this girl's parents? Did they themselves take her to a local abortion clinic to supposedly "solve" the problem pregnancy, or did someone else take her from our parental-consent state across the state line to Illinois, where abortion clinics proudly advertise that parental consent is not required?
Statutory rape laws were instituted to protect young girls like this. Any sexual activity at that age is considered exploitation no matter how sophisticated a 14-year-old may think she is -- even if it's with a boyfriend, But it was more likely an adult who sexually abused this girl and caused such suffering. Studies have shown that between 60 to 80 percent of girls aged 15 and younger who get pregnant, are impregnated by adult men. And although hard to think about, the crime of incest does happen.
Did the abortion clinic ask any questions or report her case to the authorities? Most importantly -- was anyone trying to help this girl?
Although the girl never called me, and my daughter's efforts to tell her about Project Rachel were rebuffed, I never forgot her and I couldn't help but think of her -- and pray -- when two news items crossed my desk.
You might assume that between the priest scandals and the new wave of child abductions, every effort would be made to protect children against sexual abuse.
But you would be wrong.
In a shocking development, the Medical Board of California has just asked that state's Attorney General's office for an opinion on whether Planned Parenthood-sponsored abortion clinics have a duty to report child abuse. The theory is that there is a conflict of interest between the legal "right" to abortion for underage girls and the clinics' duty as a medical provider to report cases of child sexual abuse.
This move followed a report by the pro-life group Life Dynamics2 that charged organizations like Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation with knowingly concealing the crimes of sexual abuse of minors by not notifying the authorities when underage girls sought abortions. Last May, the group published an exhaustive study in which researchers called over 800 abortion clinics around the country, portraying themselves as a 13-year-old girl made pregnant by a 22-year-old boyfriend and who wanted to conceal the relationship from her parents. Audio tapes made of those conversations confirmed that most of the abortion clinic workers routinely offered advice to help the girl obtain a secret abortion and evade any reporting requirements. "Mandated reporter" laws exist in every state and require medical personnel to report any suspected child abuse -- including statutory rape -- to child protective services or law-enforcement officials for further investigation.
At first, abortion groups like Planned Parenthood either denied the allegations or accused Life Dynamics of deceptive tactics. However, when clinic-licensing officials and attorneys in Nebraska, Alaska and other states began reviewing the tapes, the new strategy of defending underage girls' "right to privacy" over mandatory reporting requirements was soon born in California. A decision by the California Attorney General's office is expected in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, a Connecticut Superior Court judge has just refused to dismiss charges against two doctors accused of failing to tell authorities about a seven months pregnant 11-year-old girl and instead referring the girl and her mother to an abortion clinic. A 75-year-old man is now awaiting trial for sexually assaulting the girl, yet the doctors' lawyer has argued that the mandatory reporting law in Connecticut is "unconstitutionally vague".
Ironically, for decades Planned Parenthood has fought -- often successfully -- against states trying to pass parental consent or even parental notification laws on abortion by arguing that such laws could put some of these underage girls at risk from violence by the parents or expulsion from the family home. Now it seems that Planned Parenthood itself is putting those same girls at risk of continued sexual abuse.
In another news item that also reminded me of my daughter's classmate, the Elliot Institute, a non-profit pro-life research group, reported a study that found that women who had an abortion were nearly twice as likely to die within two years than women who gave birth, with the causes ranging from accidents to suicide. The report was conducted by a study of the records of 173,279 low-income women in California who either underwent an abortion or delivered a live infant in 1989. This study's results were similar to those of an earlier study done by the government of Finland, obviously not a pro-life entity.
The Elliot Institute's researchers concluded that these "[h]igher death rates associated with abortion persist over time", a trend that "may be explained by self-destructive tendencies, depression and other unhealthy behavior aggravated by the abortion experience" (Reardon et al., Southern Medical Journal, August 2002).
Despite the careful methodology of this study, Marjorie Signer, a spokesperson for the pro-abortion Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, responded "The idea that having an abortion is going to make you have a nervous breakdown and is going to send you to a psychiatrist is a horrible thing".
Planned Parenthood Federation of America spokesperson Colleen McCabe said that her organization had "no comment" on the Elliot Institute study -- but the traditional explanation by abortion groups for women who contact Project Rachel or who speak out about their emotional turmoil usually years after abortion is that either these women already had psychological problems before the abortion or that pro-life groups themselves are responsible when women feel guilt or regret after abortion. Unbelievably, a Planned Parenthood fact sheet on their web site goes even further to maintain, "Women who have had one abortion do not suffer adverse psychological effects. In fact, as a group, they have higher self-esteem, greater feelings of worth and capableness, and fewer feelings of failure than do women who have had no abortions or who have had repeat abortions" (Zabin et al., 1989; Russo & Zierk, 1992. Access on web: www.plannedparenthood.org/library/facts/emoteff_010600.html)
It is hard to decide which is the more outrageous response from abortion groups: the denial of negative reactions after abortion or the callousness toward suffering women or girls when the evidence cannot be denied. It is sadly ironic that a woman's or girl's grief and emotional distress is acknowledged as real and natural when her baby is lost before birth due to miscarriage or stillbirth but forbidden when she has that same baby aborted. The only emotions then permitted her for this supposedly victimless "bump in the road of life" are relief and gratitude for the legalized "right to choose". Never mind the reality of the distraught, ambivalent female who is initially told she has no real choice other than abortion.
"Abortion-rights groups", the terminology preferred by pro-abortion groups themselves, has never been more apt than it is today, when protecting the procedure of abortion itself is seen as more important than protecting young girls from abuse or acknowledging the trauma of abortion.
Females of any age deserve better and society deserves the truth.
1. Project Rachel is a post-abortion counseling service that offers hope and healing to individuals around nationally and internationally. The nearest Project Rachel service can be found through its web site (www.noparh.org/) or by phoning 1-800-5WE-CARE.
2. A copy of the report can be obtained by contacting Life Dynamics through its web site at www.lifedynamics.com or by writing or calling the organization at Life Dynamics, Inc., PO Box 2226, Denton, TX 76202. Phone: 940-380-8800.
3. A copy of this report can be obtained by contacting the Elliot Institute through its web site at www.afterabortion.org or by writing or calling the Institute at PO Box 7348, Springfield, IL 62791-7348. Phone: 217-525-8202.
Nancy Valko is president of Missouri Nurses for Life and a contributing editor for Voices. She frequently appears on radio and television speaking on life issues.
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