Colorado Activist Connects Abortion, Criminal Behavior: Believes Guilt from Procedure Can Lead to Illegal Acts

Article excerpt

Jail and abortion are two concepts that are rarely linked in the public mind, but Colorado Springs activist Sydna Masse says they are evil twins.

After interviews with hundreds of female inmates, she believes abortion can cause guilt-ridden women to commit crimes that land them in jail.

The thought first occurred to her in 1994, she says, when she was visiting a friend in jail. "I've had two, you know," she says the inmate, Jennifer Reali, told her.

"Two what?"

"Two abortions, Sydna. No one is ministering to us here. . . . I believe that easily 60 [percent] to 80 percent of this prison's population have had abortions."

The two women had met because Reali had killed Mrs. Masse's neighbor. In an effort to forgive and forget, Mrs. Masse had written a letter to Reali, who was serving a life sentence. The two began a pen-pal friendship and eventually met face to face.

Driving home that day, Mrs. Masse pondered whether abortion could play a part in a women's decision to commit crimes. Soon after that encounter, Mrs. Masse founded Ramah International, a Christian ministry that counsels female inmates who've had abortions.

"I don't think abortion and future crime is mysterious or something trying to be kept under the carpet," she says. "Abortion is just a piece of the puzzle, but it's a strong piece. We know it's a common thread. If you can commit murder once, you can do it again."

Most of her information is anecdotal, as no surveys correlating abortion and female inmates are known to have been done. But Myfawny Sanders, director of the Women's Pregnancy Center in Piorre, Ill., says she has never met a woman in prison who doesn't blame her incarceration partly on past abortions.

Mrs. Sanders, who works mainly with women with drug problems, says that because of "the emotional pain caused by [their past] abortions, these girls took any measure necessary to get their drug of choice," then ended up in jail.

She has counseled hundreds of women through a 16-week, post-abortion support group at Logan Correction Center in Lincoln, Ill. "The prison officials asked us to do the program," she says. "I think they felt there was a need, and we've been welcomed with open arms."

Looking for ways to diffuse violence in women, some prisons allow Bible studies. For instance, the Florence Crane and Camp Branch Correctional Facilities in Coldwater, Mich., offer 10-week post-abortion Bible studies for female inmates.

Counselor Laurie Velker says a nonscientific survey she conducted among female inmates in Michigan prisons revealed that "their anger was increased as a result of their abortion. They said they could see an increase in violent behavior after their abortions."

Mrs. Velker, who has counseled women in Michigan jails who have had abortions, argues that abortion can affect a woman enough to twist her rational reasoning.

Ten years of research in Canada found a strong correlation between child abuse and abortion. In a report titled "Induced Abortion and its Relationship to Child Abuse and Neglect," Dr. Philip Ney of Victoria, British Columbia, reports that:

* British Columbia and Ontario, the provinces with the highest abortion rates, had the highest rate of child abuse. …