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Open Letter To Cecile Richards: Care for Women Hurting After Planned Parenthood Videos

Warning: This post contains links to videos on abortion that are graphic and disturbing. Viewer discretion advised.

 

Dear Planned Parenthood CEO, Cecile Richards,

In your statement on a recent controversial video of Planned Parenthood staff, you said:

"Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide.. As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and take swift action to address it." 

I write in response, to request Planned Parenthood address an urgent need for care of post abortive women (and others) who have been deeply affected by their experience at Planned Parenthood and by staff comments in this video and further releases. 

Women who have had an abortion at one of your facilities but were not well informed, have spoken.  They have expressed great pain and heartache after learning of the reality of their baby's development early in pregnancy and of abortion procedures, which were not explained to them beforehand. 

After the release of the first Planned Parenthood video, Misha, who had an abortion at Planned Parenthood seventeen years ago, revealed she couldn't sleep for three days:

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Misha-Screen-Shot-2_20150724-144018_1.png 

Misha's story is that at about 10 weeks pregnant, Planned Parenthood staff told her that her pregnancy was just a 'blob'.  She was pro-choice and believed them.  Unlike now, there wasn't information on foetal development she could search on the internet.  After the abortion, she went to a library to look up pictures of foetuses and was distressed by what she saw.  She regretted her decision and felt like that she had been denied her right to make a choice because she had been lied to and was not provided the information she deserved. 

The Planned Parenthood viral videos have caused Misha to relive those painful memories, made even more hurtful by staff comments about harvesting body parts of foetuses at 10 weeks, when she was told her pregnancy was just a 'blob'.  She cried for days and days and couldn't sleep.  However, although Misha expressed her pain to Planned Parenthood, not a single representative of your company offered her support links or help. 

Ms Richards, despite the graphic nature of these videos and inevitable mental health issue for some post abortion women, you have offered no counselling for them.  Misha's experience at Planned Parenthood is similar to many other testimonies of women shared on Silent No More: 

"I was 15 years old when my mother and I returned to Planned Parenthood after the contraception they provided months before failed.  I was told I was 11 weeks pregnant and that my pregnancy was a 'clump of cells'.. I was not given any counselling of any kind whatsoever.  Today, I deeply regret my abortion." - Shadia 

"My name is Barbara and I am 43 years old.  When I was 21, I had an abortion with the help of Planned Parenthood of West Bend, Wisconsin.  Planned Parenthood told me at that time that my baby was nothing but tissue at that point in my pregnancy.  I was about 10 weeks along.  It was nothing but lies..  There was no counselling afterwards, and no one to talk to.. Please stop this happening to other women.. " 

"There was absolutely no counselling about the possible emotional aftermath of having an abortion.  I became suicidal and had no one to turn to.  And to find out that what I was aborting was not a "blob" of tissue, but an identifiably human form, complete with heartbeat, finger and toes.  Planned Parenthood was woefully wrong to lie and not offer any post-abortion counselling." - Susan, New Jersey 

Ms Richards, please ensure Planned Parenthood's compassionate care is not limited to women before an abortion but afterwards too. Planned Parenthood should offer all women counselling after an abortion, should they need it. The Planned Parenthood website is confusing on the availability of post abortion counselling at various Planned Parenthood locations. 

Particuarly let those women hurt by comments of Planned Parenthood staff know where they can get counselling. Please apologise to these women, Ms Richards. Not just for the 'tone' of staff comments but for the failure of Planned Parenthood for decades to inform women of human development and explain abortion procedures that they had a right to know.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tiana Sakr

CEO, Women and Babies Support (WOMBS) International Ltd

 


If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call 911 (USA) or 000 (Australia), otherwise the National Suicide Prevention Line (USA) at 1(800) 273-8255 or Lifeline (Australia) at 13 11 14. 

If you are experiencing emotional problems such as inability to sleep, constant crying, anger, anxiety or inability to concentrate, please seek help with a local counsellor or therapist. For assistance, call now:

24 Hr International Helpline:

      866 482 5433 (USA)

(exit code) 1 866 482 5433 (Intl)

Or, if you are in Australia:

1800 090 777 (Aus)

Otherwise, our online directory at http://abortiongroup.com/index.php/get-help/findservices or Care Net at http://www.care-net.org/find-a-pregnancy-center may assist you in locating a counsellor near you.  

Pregnancy centers usually offer free counselling both before and after crisis pregnancy and abortion.

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Posted by on in After Abortion
A Mile In Their Shoes

‘I could/would/will never do that’, ‘how could anyone think/do that?’.  These are just a few examples of things that people write, say, think, etc after being made aware of someone else’s ‘mistake’ (premarital sex, abortion, keeping an unplanned baby, giving a baby up for adoption, and so many others).  Frustratingly, I am not immune to it.  I have my moments where I am judging someone, sure I would do a better job, were I in that position. Come to find out, I ended up doing the same thing, and not necessarily for malicious reasons.  Ugh.  It’s not pleasant, but it reminds me to be careful how I look at/speak to/think of others.  I know quite a few people who can relate to that type of attitude.

I can give many examples, but being in the pro-life movement and all I will focus on some related to this subject.

’I would never have an abortion.’  I have heard this MANY times.  Sometimes from women who have never been pregnant.  As one who lost a sibling in this way,  naturally I would love if this was a true statement, but I have met plenty of post abortives, who have said or thought the same in the past, sadly.  But then they found themselves in an abusive relationship being forced into it, or with multiple kids and dwindling finances/small or no house, etc, or perhaps super sick with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe throwing up, which can continue through the whole pregnancy for some).  Dealing with frequent stomach troubles (minus throwing up, thankfully) I can’t imagine how horrible that would be. Some have been on necessary medication and became unexpectedly pregnant, feeling unable to keep the baby because the lack of meds could make them very ill.

Also, rape.  I know women who have been raped and it has been super traumatizing for them. Some do not feel able to keep the baby.  They fear they will think of the rapist every time they see their baby.  Or perhaps they and other mothers feel their babies will be mistreated, as a result of their conception, mixed race, etc.  The world is not always kind to those who are different.  

Another reason, tokophobia. A phobia of pregnancy and/or childbirth. I heard about this relatively recently, and my heart goes out to these women. Anxiety is a hard enough struggle, but this seems much worse in some ways.  I know at least one who felt all the cutting, etc during her c-section, despite the anesthesia.  Others could’ve had days long labors, etc.

Perhaps some of you readers have been through these situations and NOT aborted.  If so, I truly am happy for that!:)  But I ask you all to be more gentle when speaking of the abortion minded/post abortive.  Many times, it’s not such a carefree/flippant decision as some people make it seem.  Many of these women are suffering beforehand, and even more so afterwards.

I also can not stand the shaming of those pregnant before marriage.  Some of these men/women had every intention of waiting, and fell into temptation, some were using birth control.  Some were raped, and some just see nothing wrong with it.  Whatever their reasons, or our personal views on the matter, I think it is best to react peacefully.  The more we condemn them for their choices, the less likely they are to feel comfortable sharing.  Some may abort simply because they feel judged and alone.  While a big goal of mine is to save siblings from abortion, I think a bigger goal is reaching out to these parents in love.  No matter their decisions.

 

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Posted by on in After Abortion
Significant Date

January 22, 1973 had quite an impact on my life, even though I was not yet born. It was the day that abortion was legalized in the United States, which ended up making it easier for mom to abort in '95. But January 22, 2006 had an even bigger impact on my life, for that was the evening that mom bravely shared her testimony with us. There was instant sadness, but no tears. In part because I am really not comfortable with my emotions being visible, but also because I didn't want to add to mom's pain, which was so obvious. Despite that, she was open for questioning, leting us know, among other things, that she had named the baby Joseph Michael, as well as the date of the abortion (2/14/95). As hard as it was to hear, these details actually made things easier to handle in some ways, so I deeply admire the strength she showed. 

Prior to finding out about Joey, I had dealt with numerous losses as a nursing home volunteer, and while they definitely hurt, I was able to move on fairly quickly. I assumed it would be like that with him, especially because I hadn't even known about him and the death was so many years earlier. Plus, some of it was wishful thinking, so I wouldn't have to feel such strong and painful emotions. 

A decade later, I see how wrong I was. But you know, as rough as it's been, and still is at times, I don't regret going through that pain. It has opened my eyes in multiple ways for which I am so grateful and there have been some amazing blessings! :)

I will not get into all of them in this post, but one of the ones I am most excited about is that I am now an advocate! Through this blog, my facebook pages and group, etc I get to be a voice for siblings. The kind that I very much longed to find when I was first ready to find help. I was shocked by how little was available for and about us at that time, even among those who offered post abortive counseling. Silent No More (SNM), Rhode Island and Lumina were the only ones I could find, speaking up for and reaching out to others like me, but both were across the country, unfortunately. With mom's permission, a pen name of sorts (Susi O Fanabba, short for 'surviving sibling of an aborted baby'), and the encouragement of those at Silent No More, I wrote my first testimony. That in and of itself was healing, as a lot that I had been repressing came out. I sent it to SNM and to Theresa Bonopartis at Lumina, who was coordinating a retreat day for siblings, a few weeks from that time. I knew I was not going to be able to make it, but hoped that it could be read to the other siblings at least. To my shock, she wrote back with an invite to attend, and offered to help me figure out a way to get there. WOW! I was instantly nervous! Not just about traveling, but about the day itself. Could I handle being in such an emotionally charged environment? Would I be able to keep my own emotions in check or would I have a public breakdown, etc?

Despite these worries, I said yes and am so glad I did. While it was very physically and emotionally draining (no tears though), it brought amazing healing! To start with, Theresa kept it small, only 7 of us total. 5 siblings, a chaplain and her. We all had a very generous amount of time to share our stories, in a comfortable, home-like setting, with hardly any interruption or fear of judgement, mockery, hurting our parents, etc. When my turn came I imagined I would give just a brief account, especially because I was shy and worried about a breakdown, but nope!! Even more came out than what was in the testimony!! For the first time, I was with others who could relate to my loss and found it so freeing :D 5 people, from different backgrounds, finding common ground and healing together! 

That day was over too quickly! But the healing and joy that came have not left! Nor have the friendships. We are all very busy with our own lives but still find time to reconnect with each other, for which I am grateful. What's rather sad to me though, is that so few post abortive sibs can relate to the healing I've experienced and I want to do my part to help them. The main ways I have done this are through sharing my own story, in the hopes that it brings awareness to our pain and issues and inspires those who can to start programs and such for us. Also, by starting and maintaining this blog, which has a growing number of testimonies, most of them anonymous, and through my private group on facebook, just for siblings. It's been such an honor to hear from some, including post abortive, that my efforts are helping bring healing and awareness! 

There have been some awesome changes in the last 10 years, that I am looking forward to seeing what the next 10 bring :)

 

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Planned Parenthood's Misleading Claims on Abortion and Mental Health

America's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood in its latest publication, "The Emotional Effects of Induced Abortion"(2013)1, claims that "legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women" and that "most substantive studies in the last 30 years have found abortion to be a relatively benign procedure in terms of emotional effect.."  I looked carefully at the research Planned Parenthood refers to and these claims are false.  The two main reviews cited by Planned Parenthood do not support a general claim that abortion does not affect the mental health of women.  Planned Parenthood's claims on abortion and mental health are both misleading and irresponsible.

When I read Planned Parenthood's publication and similar statements from other abortion providers, I wondered about claims that abortion does not have emotional effects because so many women have expressed deep and ongoing negative emotional reactions after abortion.  It just didn't seem right because although women in general are obviously coping, all the women after abortion who I know personally have suffered so much mentally in private and for a long time and I have read the stories of many more who have gone through similar experiences.

So I spent weeks looking into the actual research on mental health and abortion referenced by Planned Parenthood, reading mammoth reports.  Firstly, the 100 page report by the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion (TFMHA)2 in 2008 and then the 250 page report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC)3 in 2011 (London).  These reports are the result of two major systematic reviews that Planned Parenthood cites to support it's own claims on mental health and abortion 

Firstly, Planned Parenthood makes this opening statement, "legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women" and says this is supported by rigorous reviews in the last five years.  It goes on to give conclusions from the two reviews by the AMRC and the TFMHA that I just mentioned.  However, in doing so, Planned Parenthood fails to make some crucial points which are necessary to understand the context of these reviews and the conclusions they make.

Looking at the AMRC report, it is important to note this review excluded negative emotional effects and research evidence of mental health problems within 90 days of an abortion.  Its focus was on clinically diagnosed mental health disorders or mental illness beyond 3 months of an abortion.  Planned Parenthood does not mention this.  It does not define mental health problems anywhere in it's publication and seems to confuse this term with emotional effects when these two outcomes are actually treated very differently in the TFMHA and AMRC reviews into mental health and abortion.  

The AMRC conclusions do not directly support Planned Parenthood's statement, 'legally induced abortion does not pose mental health problems for women.'  It concluded that support and proper care should be available for all women who have an unwanted pregnancy "because the risk of mental health problems increases whatever the pregnancy outcome".

Also the TFMHA review does not support Planned Parenthood's opening statement.  The TFMHA report did not conclude that no women suffer mental health problems as a result of legal induced abortion.  In fact it says, "To state that women in general do not show an increased incidence of mental health problems following a single abortion, however, does not mean that no women experience such problems."(p.91)

The TFMHA also clearly state in their report how crucial it is to define "mental health problems" (which it defines as clinically diagnosed/measured mental disorders).  The Planned Parenthood publication fails to share this information.  Planned Parenthood fails to inform women that claims made by the paper in reference to mental health problems do not include the negative emotions or behaviour, e.g. sadness, regret, guilt, or even depression below the clinical threshold, that may affect a women's health after an abortion. Unless this is made clear, readers may otherwise think the conclusions made by the APA on mental health problems includes all negative psychological effects, including emotional healh

Planned Parenthood makes another claim in reference to the AMRC review, falsely stating it, "reviewed all studies about the emotional effects of abortion that had been published in English between 1990 and 2011."  As mentioned earlier, the AMRC excluded 'emotional effects' of abortion as being 'beyond the scope' of its review and only concluded on evidence on mental health problems (clinically measured or validated using rating scales) and substance abuse from a very limited number of studies in the end. In fact by the time the AMRC was done with excluding studies because they did not meet inclusion criteria it was left with only 180 studies out of 8909 references from 1990-2011, and drew its final conclusions on mental health outcomes from between 1 & 4 studies only (see p.108-118 of report3).  This claim by Planned Parenthood which indicates that the AMRC conducted a rigorous review on emotional effects and abortion is hence false.

As the TFMHA says, "abortion means different things to different women" which may "lead to variability in women's psychological experiences to their particular abortion experience.  For these reasons, global statements on the psychological impact of abortion on women can be misleading."(p.9)  Planned Parenthood should have noted this important observation of the TFMHA and refrained from making a global statement about abortion and mental health problems that seriously misinforms the public, especially health providers and vulnerable women in pregnancy who may make decisions based on these claims.  

 

1  Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.  The Emotional Effects of Induced Abortion. 2013. 1 - 3.  http://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/PPFA/Emotional_Effects_of_Induced_Abortion.pdf. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 

2  TFMA. Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. Washington, DC. American Psychological Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion.  http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf

3 AMRC. Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. (2011). Induced Abortion and Mental Health - A Systematic Review

of the Mental Health Outcomes of Induced Abortion, Including Their Prevalence and Associated Factors. London. 

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges/National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

http://www.nccmh.org.uk/reports/ABORTION_REPORT_WEB FINAL.pdf  Retrieved on 10 July 2014.

 

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