Dr. Christiane Northrup, a noted author and gynecologist, speaks about the topic of grief after abortion in her revised edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (2010). A former abortion doctor herself, Northrup takes the bold step of agreeing that women need a chance to grieve a voluntary pregnancy termination.
She writes, “Since the first edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, many women have written to me expressing their gratitude that I have addressed this issue [processing abortion grief]. And they have written about how their willingness to tell the truth about their abortion experience has healed them.” She goes on to say that during the many years she performed abortions, she observed that “not having fully grieved a pregnancy termination can be a setup for pregnancy problems in the future” because of the unresolved feelings surrounding the choice.
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What I am seeing from my clients is the existence of an intense loyalty to the abortion secret that is driven by an incredible sense of fear of disclosure. With decades of guilt and shame as an emotional backdrop, many women never adequately process the deep grief aspects of abortion. As long as the cloak of shame surrounds this issue in the hearts of women, they will stay loyal to their “dirty little secret.”
If you have an abortion secret from your past, you should be encouraged to know that you are not alone! There are resources available to help you walk through and resolve your choice decision. Staying in your self-imposed prison of silence doesn’t help. Here are some suggestions to help you move out of your abortion grief without fear.
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Find a safe place to talk. If you do not have a close, trustworthy friend, spouse or partner, you can always make an appointment with a professional therapist. There is a cutting edge resource, called Choice Processing and Resolution Therapy specially developed for the professional setting you can let your therapist know about. The two of you can walk this journey together. Professional therapists can be a good place because you are assured 100% confidentiality.
Again you have to make sure your source for sharing is safe. Personally, when I was looking for resources to help me I ended up having even more angst. Sometimes going to a good friend or unqualified source only brings you more invalidation. I went to three professionals who did not understand my situation. Two validated my choice but not my grief. One condemned my choice and completely invalidated my grief. So make sure you go towards safety and caring and compassionate people who understand abortion grief.