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Thursday, November 17, 2011


A few years ago, I counseled a client who was caring for a critically ill child and felt that she had to choose between the child she already had and the one that she could potentially have. She chose to terminate this pregnancy in order to better care for her child, but truly, she wanted them both. Around the same time, there was another client, not someone I counseled, but someone who was crying hysterically in the recovery room and I went to her to comfort her in whatever way I could. I don't know her story, but I know she was devastated by having to make the decision to have an abortion. It was the first abortion for each of these women, and after I talked to them about coping and about how they were still good women and how they would manage to be OK, they both declared that it would be their last abortion, and that they were confident, if not glad about their decisions. I don't hold them to that promise, of course. And I don't hold myself responsible for making them feel OK.

The interesting thing, though, is that it was neither of their last abortions. In fact, they both went on to have several more abortions. Did I make them feel so OK about their decisions that they decided that abortion was the way to go? I doubt it, even though I don't see anything really wrong with that plan. Did they feel so bad that they thought, "F*** it; I had one abortion, so I might as well have five"? Were they engaging in that Russian Roulette coping mechanism where they subconsciously (or consciously) want to test their fertility by having unprotected sex, then realize, "Oh. I guess that worked. I didn't actually want that to work"? Had they not been particularly sexually active prior to the first abortion, and afterward, they didn't quite get the hang of birth control?

As usual, I'm not at all judging reproductive health decisions, but some of them certainly are perplexing. Anyone have any insight? If not, want to launch a study? (You're paying...I only make an abortion clinic staffer's salary.)

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