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Opinion >  Letters

Mental health and abortions

As a retired psychologist and pro-choice, I feel compelled to respond to Sue Lani Madsen’s mischaracterization of both mental health diagnoses and the pro-choice movement (“There’s a syndrome that needs attention,” Jan. 12). Mental health professionals do not recognize post-abortion stress syndrome for the same reason they do not recognize post-rape stress syndrome. Diagnosis is symptom driven, not specific experience driven. Therefore, the “pro-abortion lobby” does not impact diagnostic decision-making. Furthermore, in decades of working to ensure women’s right to choice I have never met anyone who is “pro-abortion,” only pro-choice.

As a psychologist, I have sat with some women traumatized by their abortions and helped them to find healing. Personally, I believe my pro-choice beliefs informed my ability to be compassionate and thoughtful in helping them find forgiveness for decisions they regret and to develop tools for decision-making in the future that match their values. I am glad that Paths of Life provides healing for those that are hurting. I am also aware that some individuals would not find healing there. Thank goodness, the mental health profession recognizes the myriad of ways people hurt and a multitude of ways people find healing.

Miriam Berkman, Ph.D.


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