Home Page  Dr Pravin Thevathasan's Reviews page 

Dr Pravin Thevathasan's home page

Abortion Trauma is laid bare in Superb Treatise

Abortion and Mental Health, by Dr Pravin Thevathasan, MRCPsych, (Life, Leamington Spa, 2010, £1.95), reviewed by Donal Anthony Foley

Here to download booklet

This slim but well-written and cogent booklet on the effects of abortion on mental health, comes out of the author’s experiences as a practising psychiatrist who has had to deal with patients who have suffered from the after-effects of an abortion. Thus it is very much a practical booklet based both on this and on the available psychiatric research.

Dr Thevathasan starts by outlining exactly what Post-Abortion Trauma, is, noting that some psychologists see it as a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—with the abortion being the stressful event. He describes some of the symptoms, which normally manifest themselves only after a certain period of time, and these include factors such as nightmares, flashbacks, guilty feelings, and a re-living of the abortion experience. Anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings can also be present. He categorizes Post-Abortion Trauma as “
the psychological consequences of repressed grief following an abortion.”

Paradoxically, he notes, guilt following an abortion may be the beginning of healing, but often women have become desensitised to this, particularly if they have had multiple abortions. The abortion can be rationalized away. He also notes a connection in the medical literature between abortion and child abuse, and that, even according to the standard psychiatric textbooks, twenty-five per cent of women experience guilt feelings and depression following an abortion; and symptoms such as numbness, sadness, depression, anger and guilt are also quite common. There likewise seems to be a link between abortion and suicide.

Dr Thevathasan then looks at the so-called “
hard cases” such as serious medical conditions, handicap, and rape, but points out that abortion is always the worst option, and indeed very negative because it is destructive and defeatist, particularly when it is done for eugenic reasons.

He points out that in his experience, almost invariably, “
post-abortion counselling must be carried out by those who are pro-life and pro-woman.” Such counselling must be both compassionate and non-judgemental, and seek to promote “reconciliation” for the woman with her aborted child. For Dr Thevathasan, the “ultimate aim of counselling is ‘resolution’ and acceptance.” However, post-abortion grieving is not easy—there was no funeral and there is no grave to focus on.

In order for healing to take place, at some point in the process of counselling the woman must accept that a child has been killed. For some women giving the child a name and asking them for forgiveness can be helpful. And God is always ready to forgive, as Pope John Paul II reminded women who have had abortions, particularly in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Dr Thevathasan gives a series of case histories, which graphically illustrate the sort of problems post-abortion trauma can cause: suicidal thoughts, self harm, promiscuity, drug overdoses, severe depression, and even for some women, hearing voices. The partners of women who have had an abortion can also suffer serious psychological problems, and indeed Julius Fogel, a pro-abortion psychiatrist, admitted that: “
When a woman destroys a pregnancy, she destroys herself. A psychological price is paid. It may be alienation, it may be a pushing away from human warmth, perhaps a hardening of the maternal instinct. Something happens on the deeper level of consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the medical establishment is largely “
in denial” regarding Post-Abortion Trauma, relying on flawed evidence to argue that it is not the problem that pro-lifers maintain it is. But a study published in 2006, by the distinguished epidemiologist Professor David Fergusson—who is not pro-life—concluded that women who have had abortions are much more likely to suffer mental health problems than women who have given birth naturally. Regrettably, this study was largely ignored by the media.

As Dr Thevathasan points out, although most abortions are done on “mental health” grounds, there is actually “
no evidence that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted pregnancy,” and he goes on to say that in his experience, and that of those involved in post-abortion counselling: “Again and again we have to deal with women who had had no history of mental illness before they had abortions.”

Dr Thevathasan is not optimistic that elements of the medical and psychiatric establishment will accept the reality of Post-Abortion Trauma, but argues that despite this there is a need for pro-lifers to speak out about the psychological harm caused by abortion, along with a need to train more counsellors who can accompany post-abortive women along the path of suffering that will lead ultimately to their healing.

This lucid and compelling booklet ought to be required reading for anyone involved in abortion counselling, or indeed anyone interested in promoting the pro-life position.

From Catholic Times May 2nd 2010.

The Booklet is available from LIFE (UK).

1) In Electronic Form

2) As a booklet-:

Priced £1.95. Phone 01926421587.

(International 44 1926421587)

Copyright ©; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2010

Version: 23rd December 2014

Home Page  Dr Pravin Thevathasan's Reviews page 

Dr Pravin Thevathasan's home page