Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

TRAUMA

30
Abortion Counseling

MARLA KAHN-EDRINGTON

When a woman finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, the continuation of pregnancy may cause a greal deal of grief to the woman, the child, family members, and society. Women are often unprepared, unable, or unwilling to include a child in their lives. Although abortion may be a better alternative for a variety of reasons, it is a difficult decision for most women to reach. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and moral ambivalence concerning both the pregnancy and abortion are common. Unwanted pregnancy often precipitates a state of agitated reactive depression; the woman may be withdrawn, have difficulty sleeping, be preoccupied with death and dying, and be preoccupied with the pregnancy and abortion (Leiter 1972). An unwanted pregnancy and its termination thus constitute a crisis situation for most women.

The crisis nature of an unplanned pregnancy may be precipitated or aggravated by social aspects. The social situation of aborting women is consistently more strained than that of women who continue their pregnancy to term. "They are either very young or rather old from an obstetric point of view, they are more often alone, are studying or unemployed, have more children, are often pregnant without a stable relationship, and their economic situation is less favorable ... the pre

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