Something Inside Has Died
Booze, Drugs, Sex, and Suicide

Theresa Burke
with David C. Reardon
Forbidden Grief: Chapter 13
Reproduced with Permission

Mary sat in the recovery room, crying almost hysterically. "My God, what have I done?" she moaned. She was doubled over, her arms wrapped tightly around her abdomen as if holding herself together. As tears streamed down her face, she observed other girls reading magazines, as though lined up under dryers at the beauty salon. "How can they be so casual about this?" she marveled.

The tissue box on the table beside her was empty, so she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her denim jacket as she fought the chills which invaded her body. "I have to get a grip!" she told herself. With a determined act of will, she took a deep breath and swallowed back her tears, grief, and heartache.

When she arrived home, her boyfriend greeted her at the door. He had planned a special evening - a steak and lobster dinner with a bottle of champagne - to commend her for her extraordinary bravery on this, the day of her abortion. Needless to say, Mary did not feel pride in her "accomplishment." Instead, the celebration atmosphere made her feel uncomfortable and foolish. When her boyfriend offered her a glass of champagne, she gulped it down. Grateful for its anesthetic effect, she quickly emptied a second glass, then a third and a fourth. It was not long before Mary was so plastered that her boyfriend had to carry her to bed.

The next morning, she woke with cottonmouth and an extreme headache that hung over her memory like an iron blanket, momentarily covering her recollections of the previous day. Mary buried her head under the pillow and asked her boyfriend to lower the shades on the windows. Slowly she became aware of the blood-soaked pad pasted to her underpants - a menacing reminder of the previous day. Her boyfriend, gently rubbing her shoulders, recognized the dim pain surfacing in her eyes. "I'll make you a drink," he offered, eager to assist in an alliance of drowning sorrow.

Mary nodded and shuffled slowly into the shower, aghast at the amount of crimson blood left over from the abortion. When she had finished, her boyfriend handed her a Bloody Mary. "How appropriate!" she mused, choking off a ragged laugh. If she thought too much, she knew, she might burst into a never-ending river of tears. "Bottoms up!" she sighed and swiftly downed the drink. Her boyfriend joined her. Thus was born, in place of her baby, an alcoholic ritual that would dominate Mary's life for nearly ten years.

Intoxicated With Feelings

The human mind has a tremendous capacity to repress undesirable feelings and re-channel them into more tolerable tortures. If we cannot find a way to work through the trauma with our conscious intellect, our unconscious mind will accomplish the task for us. Trying to cope with these shattered phantoms may invite the abuse of alcohol or drugs, and a vicious, unrelenting cycle of self-destruction, heaping insult on top of injury until awareness of the original problem has been annihilated.

I have listened to many women share their sad tales of unacknowledged and unexpressed grief. Drinking and drugs for many becomes an ordinary way of life - like breathing and eating. They become "party people," laughing their way through life to avoid the tears that well up when they are alone and silent. The dreams they once had are choked off by the same self-destructive behaviors they use to drown their grief. Monica shared this all-too-familiar story:

From the time I was 18 and had my first abortion, the aftermath affected almost every area of my life. I think alcohol and drug abuse were at the top of the list, but also there were nightmares, uncontrollable fear to the point of a panic disorder, and a deep sadness, the source of which I couldn't identify or understand. I frequently thought about killing myself. I had anger and rage, sexual problems, low self-esteem, incredible self-hatred and a depression that came and went like an unexpected wind. But most of all, grief that chilled me to the bone. My grief turned on me like a hungry lion waiting to destroy every area of my life. Drinking and drugs were the only way I could cope.

Researchers studying substance abuse identified long ago that women are likely to date the onset of alcohol and drug abuse to a particular stressful event or a "definite life situation."1 It should not be surprising, then, to find that over a dozen studies have found a strong association between substance abuse and abortion.2 One found that among women without a prior history of substance abuse, women who aborted their first pregnancy had a 4.5 times higher risk of subsequent substance abuse compared to women who carried their first pregnancy to term.3 When the most conservative risk estimates from this study are applied to the general population of women, it indicates that at least 150,000 women per year abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a means of dealing with post-abortion stress.4 One of these women was Jennifer:

When I look back on my problems with drinking, I never thought it was anything unusual. I grew up in the seventies, and I thought, hey, everybody is drinking and doing drugs. I thought I was normal, just like everyone else. Now I realize that I never did any of those things until after my abortion. Sure, everyone was drinking, but I drank more than anyone else. I ended up sleeping around more too. It was a wild and crazy time. I tried to drink away my feelings of grief. I had to keep drinking, because my inner emptiness was always there, and I could not bear the way it made me feel. So I became the party girl ... the first to arrive, the last to leave. I'd buy drinks for others, hoping they'd keep me company and help me to avoid myself ... a self I grew to hate. Drinking helped me forget about her - and for however long the buzz lasted, I felt okay.

After Amanda's abortion, she immediately went to the nearest bar to drown her anguish in rum and cola. The sympathetic bartender to whom Amanda related her story assisted her in getting drunk that night out of an authentic pity for her. Thereafter, Amanda reenacted this confession and affirmation scene by getting drunk and confessing her abortion to whomever her bar buddy was that night. Who it was didn't matter - sometimes it would be a complete stranger. With each drunken confession, Amanda experienced the pain and the grief as vividly as she had the night of the abortion. Alcohol provided an altered state of consciousness, unshackled her emotions and exposed a private raw nerve. It also gave her permission to feel and lowered her defenses enough to openly admit her grief. But her relief was limited to her drunken state. Amanda rarely remembered her ritual confessions the next day. When sober, she denied that the abortion had any effect on her, insisting that she was fine with it.

Spiraling Out of Control

Drugs and alcohol have the power to change a person's emotional center, if only temporarily. In a chemically altered emotional state, one can feel like a different person - separated from one's past. For some women, like Mary, the need to escape from the past through drugs also includes a radical breaking off of relationships.

After the abortion, I cut all contact with my former crowd and made a completely new group of friends. I got into drugs and alcohol. I kept as stoned and drunk as possible so as not to think about it.

Others, like Heidi, cut themselves off from activities they used to enjoy.

I turned to alcohol to forget and ease the pain. I had been a gymnast and had been very health-conscious before the abortion. Afterward, I felt guilty, had no respect for myself and contemplated suicide, and just didn't care about life anymore.

A woman's personality may drastically change after an abortion. Often, she will express this change as having "lost a part of myself" during the abortion. She may go on to live a "half-life," withdrawing from past acquaintances and secretly deadening her pain with alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and other self-destructive tendencies. The handwritten accounts of the seven women below are sadly typical of these interrelated symptoms.

As early as 1972, researchers had observed that young women who abort may develop patterns of promiscuity that did not exist before.5 In the Elliot Institute Survey, 43 percent of the women surveyed reported post-abortion promiscuity. Statistical analysis of that sample shows that women reporting the onset of promiscuity after an abortion were also significantly more likely to report post-abortion alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide attempts, personality changes, and repeat abortions. It is important to note, however, that slightly over half of the women who reported becoming promiscuous also reported a loss of pleasure from intercourse. For these women, promiscuous behavior did not satisfy unbridled sexual desires; it served other purposes.

For post-abortive women, promiscuity can be used as a form of degrading self-punishment, or it may be driven by low self-esteem and a desperate need to feel valued by another, if only superficially. Promiscuity can also recreate feelings of shame and guilt related to the traumatic abortion. In such cases, the woman can project her feelings of shame onto her sexual behavior rather than onto the more intimidating issue of her abortion. Nan, for example, shares how her shame following an abortion led her to permit abusive sex:

After my abortion, I did not care about my body any more. I certainly did not care about what was put into my body. I would only go with partners who were abusive, or those who put things inside me ... boys who played with sexual toys, fruit, and other objects. I let men experiment and play with me like I was a baby doll.

Nan allowed others to invade her vagina with objects as she lay silent. Having things "put inside" her was a connection to the abortion experience. She described herself as a helpless "baby doll," identifying with her own powerless baby.

Patricia's sexuality was also distorted by feelings of loss, abandonment, death, destruction, and shame. Her approach to sexual relations became sadistic, punishing, and at times masochistic. When she eventually married, Patricia's husband at first thought her sexual preferences were kinky, erotic, and fun. But as time passed, he longed for the gentle intimacy of normal sex. But Patricia was incapable of such intimacy as long as the trauma of her abortion remained braided into her sexual identity.

Similarly, Rita felt trapped by a compulsion to shame and humiliate herself through promiscuous affairs and demeaning episodes with sex. Rita would do just about anything. On one occasion she required hospitalization following sadistic sexual relations. Her only memory of the event was an awareness of self-hatred and pain.

It didn't matter what anybody did to me. I guess I felt I deserved it. I certainly never got any pleasure out of it. I felt worthless. I had no self-respect. The thought of my abortion disgusted me and made me hate myself.

Conflicted women like Rita, acting out post-abortion trauma through their sexuality, are easy targets for perverted abusers. Rita's self-destructive acts served to reenact the shame, self-hatred, and complete loss of innocence she associated with her traumatic abortion. None of these tendencies emerged until after her abortion. It was only after she had post-abortion counseling that she was able to break free of this pattern.

Promiscuity may also serve the desire, conscious or unconscious, to become pregnant again. Becoming pregnant by an uncommitted male may recreate the rejection of commitment on the part of the baby's father that was implicit in the first abortion. Promiscuity can also serve the purpose of re-experiencing the abortion literally, through multiple abortions, in the subconscious hope that by aborting again she will finally master her trauma. Alternatively, promiscuity can serve as a means of acting out a new vision of self - the carefree party animal, for example.

The relationship between substance abuse and promiscuity is straightforward. Drugs and alcohol lower sexual inhibitions. Those who are looking for sexual encounters are naturally drawn to bar-hopping and parties where the use of alcohol and drugs is a normal part of the social interactions, or even a necessary prelude to mating rituals. Being intoxicated also makes it easier for a woman to settle for a "loser," if it comes to that, just so she won't have to spend the night alone.

As previously discussed, traumatized women will frequently engage in repetitious behaviors as a means of releasing trauma-related tension. Sexual intercourse, alcohol, and drugs are all tension relievers. But coping with an unresolved trauma through such addictive behaviors is like being shackled to a treadmill, running over the same struggles or themes over and over again.

By engaging in these repetitive behaviors, the mind seeks either (1) to finally master the problem by re-experiencing the trauma directly or through symbolic proxies, or (2) to become so accustomed to the behavior that one is no longer bothered by it. By deadening herself to higher aspirations through drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and repeat abortions, a woman's emotional range can become so restricted that she hardly feels the pain anymore. The price is high, however, since such a woman also loses the ability to feel any lasting joy.

Abortion and Suicide

When feelings of joy and hope are no more than dim memories, when depression, despair, or grief weigh upon a soul with the force of a glacier grinding a mountain into sand, thoughts of suicide will arise. At some point, the natural fear of death is offset by the longing for death's release from everything in this life. Such was the case for Janet, who was employed as a police officer in a suburban community. Janet shares her memories surrounding her abortion and the despair and inner violence that followed:

After my abortion they made me lie down for 30 minutes. Finally another nurse dismissed me. I tried to tell her how much pain I was in. It was as if I was speaking to a brick wall - she said nothing in response. Painfully and slowly, I got dressed and walked into the waiting room. I looked at my boyfriend Mike. He looked deadpan toward me. If I had had a weapon, he and everyone else in that clinic would have died, myself included. We spoke not one word during the long drive back to my home. He finally gave up trying to talk to me. I never saw him again, nor spoke to him, even though we worked in the same place. My feelings for him were far deeper than mere hatred. I fantasized about annihilating him (somehow), making him beg for mercy first, as I had in the clinic. Finally, even my hatred drained out of me, leaving only a despairing blackness. I was at the end of the road, with no salvation. I had finally struck bottom.

With quiet deliberation, I took my handgun from under my pillow, checking to make sure the clip was loaded. I chambered a round, walked into my living room, sat in a chair, put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger. To this day, I cannot think why the gun did not fire. I had always kept it in perfect working order. Still numb, I called my only friend, Susan, and told her what I tried to do. She lived quite a distance from me, but she was there in a flash; under five minutes, I think. She put me on her lap like a child and rocked me for a long time. I don't remember crying, but perhaps I did. After she was sure I was "okay," she took my handgun home with her. I still hadn't told her about the abortion. Bless her. Later that gun went off in her apartment, blowing a hole in her living room wall and scaring her silly. I was so thankful she was not hurt.

Deadened to all joy, my life took an ironic twist. I soon found, without even looking, another job making far more money than my old one. I could easily have supported a child on my new salary. I continued my promiscuous ways out of habit, I think. I no longer knew right from wrong. Gone was even a semblance of joy. There was no sunshine to my days. Oh, how I envied the dead. I used to pray for death, begging a non-existent God to give me an end to my pain. I find it amazing, in retrospect, how we can function so well in front of others, while suffering like that.

The suicide-abortion link is well-known among professionals who counsel suicidal people. Meta Uchtman, director of Suicide Anonymous in Cincinnati, reported that in a 35-month period her group had worked with 4,000 women, and that nearly half had previously had an abortion. Of those who had undergone abortions, 1,400 were between the ages of 15 and 24 - the age group with the fastest growing suicide rate in the country.6 According to another study undertaken at the University of Minnesota, teenage girls are ten times more likely to attempt suicide if they have had an abortion in the last six months than are teens who have not had an abortion.7

In the Elliot Institute Survey, nearly three of every five post-abortive women had subsequent suicidal thoughts. Twenty-eight percent actually attempted suicide, with over half of these making more than one suicide attempt.8 The higher rates of suicide attempts among post-abortive women are similar to patterns found for suicide in other traumatized populations. For example, based on interviews nine years after women were the victims of rape, researchers have found that 19 percent of rape victims had made a suicide attempt, significantly more than other victims of crime. Similarly, around 19 percent of combat veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder had made suicide attempts, and 15 percent were preoccupied with suicidal thoughts.9

The higher rate of suicides among post-abortive women has been definitively demonstrated by two major record-based studies. Researchers in Finland, after examining medical records for all Finnish women of reproductive age over a seven-year period, discovered that women who aborted were seven times more likely to commit suicide in the subsequent year compared to women who carried to term. Aborting women were also four times more likely to die from injuries related to accidents, which may actually have been suicide attempts or at least suicidal risk-taking.10

A similar study that examined records for over 150,000 California women eligible for Medicaid found that the aborting women were over 2.5 times more likely than delivering women to commit suicide within eight years of their abortion.11

Still another record-based study found that while subsequent suicide attempts increased among aborting women, this could not be explained by prior suicidal behavior.12 In other words, suicide attempts were not significantly different between groups before their pregnancies, but subsequently increased only among aborting women. These are just a few of many studies identifying the link between abortion and suicide.13

By contrast, numerous studies have indicated that pregnancy, even when unplanned, diminishes suicidal impulses. Pregnancy serves a protective role for mentally disturbed or seriously depressed women.14 Family obligations and the idea that there is someone to "live for" tend to reduce self-destructive inclinations.15 These findings suggest that for women with prior psychological problems, childbirth is likely to reduce the risk of subsequent suicide attempts, whereas abortion may aggravate that risk.

Despite the overwhelming evidence linking abortion to suicide, abortion providers do not provide the type of psychosocial screening necessary to identify patients who are at higher risk of suicide. Nor do they provide women with information about suicide intervention in the event that they begin to feel suicidal after their abortion. Paulette blamed the abortion clinic's lack of proper screening for her sister's death.

My sister and I were both victims of incest. My sister had been sexually assaulted by my brothers for a number of years when she got her first abortion at the age of 16. Had she been questioned by anyone as to how a minor like herself had come to be pregnant in the first place, perhaps she could have been saved from any further abuse within the family. This is indeed what should have happened in any agency that claims to be concerned about preventing child abuse. As it turned out, she was given the abortion without my parents' consent or knowledge and then returned to the same environment.

Years later, after having given birth to three children, having had many years of psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs, she became pregnant in a crisis situation. She was advised by friends and self-appointed do-gooders to abort the baby to take care of herself. This caused her a great deal of distress and anxiety. The decision was very difficult for her and in her weakened state she succumbed to the "sensibility" of their arguments and scheduled the abortion.

She was crying when she entered the clinic, she cried throughout the procedure, and was sobbing as she left. But no one at the clinic asked her any questions that might upset her any more. Of course, had anyone asked her they might have recognized that she was not emotionally strong enough to stand the abortion. Had they inquired about her health history, they might have seen her as the high-risk patient she was. But none of this took place.

One week after the abortion she took her life with a gunshot to the chest, striking her heart. Her three children are growing up without their mom because no one wanted to ask questions.

The strong association between suicide and abortion bears witness to how suicidal impulses serve as a means of reenacting a traumatic abortion experience. Thoughts of death mirror the death experience of abortion. Through her abortion, the traumatized woman seeks to solve certain difficulties in her life. When she is later faced with depression, isolation, or an emptiness in her life that cannot be filled by drugs, alcohol, or sex, death again offers a solution. "After all," many reason, "I killed my child. Why not kill myself?"

Eleanor was 16 years old when she had an abortion. When she went to a guidance counselor to discuss her raging emotions, he assured her that she had made a good decision. "Focus on the future," the counselor advised. "Stop looking back." The advice was meaningless. Eleanor needed someone who would acknowledge her pain, not reject it as she had rejected her baby. One of her diary entries, written six years later, explains the struggle which underlay her suicidal thoughts.

I thought about suicide again today. I can't get that thought out of my head. What could God possibly have planned for me in the future? I am really starting to wonder if there is anything planned.

I guess this is because my only dream in life was to be a good mother. Instead, I've become a murderer. I am left wondering what my beautiful child would be doing right now. My life would be filled with joy. Instead it is filled with depression, anxiety and despair.

How could I have ever thought my life would be better without my child? I know that another baby will never replace her in my heart. I don't think I deserve a second chance.

I also wonder how a man on earth could care for or love me after I was able to kill my own daughter. God only knows how anybody could understand how someone who supposedly loves children could choose to destroy her own child.

Will I even be able to chip open a small part of my heart to let someone new in? There is nothing left of my heart to share with another person. I really believe I aborted my heart with my daughter. I have not smiled or felt any joy for six years. I cannot continue this act - this charade of going through the motions when I am so totally dead inside. I had the strength to kill my child - I hope I can find the strength to kill myself. There is nothing left for me here.

Such despair, in Eleanor's case, was the byproduct of years of unresolved grief. Vicky, on the other hand, felt suicidal immediately after her abortion:

lf I had a gun I would have blown my head off. After my abortion I was in such severe pain - death seemed the only solution. It seemed like the only way to be back with my baby. I overdosed on pills and drinks.

The manner in which women recover from suicidal feelings is also instructive. Jill, for example, went on one of my Rachel's Vineyard retreats for post-abortion healing. She described the process of grieving (which she had avoided for so long) as the most liberating feeling of her life. "I feel as though the weight of an entire building has been lifted from me," she said. When I heard her comment, I was struck with the memory of a story she had told me the first night I met her. Jill had described a ritual that she began shortly after her abortion.

Every morning on my way to work, I walk beneath the porch of a dilapidated building. Each morning, I walk by wishing that the building would crumble and fall on me. I know this sounds sick, but I look forward to walking under that building and hope that this will be the day that it collapses. Sometimes I stand under the structure for a few extra minutes. I examine the bricks which are crumbling and I wonder when God will let it all go ... and I hope that when it happens, I'm right there. With my luck, though, I wouldn't die - I'd probably be paralyzed.

Beyond a death wish, Jill's decrepit building symbolized her sense of self - a self untended, crumbling, in imminent danger of collapse. Jill was weary of the depression, self-hatred, and guilt that had been her constant companion since the abortion. Just as she waited for the structure of the building to collapse, so she was waiting for her own defense structures to break down. Her preoccupation with being crushed by the falling building was a fantasy brought on by not being able to cope any more. It was about letting go of the pain. Yet she also feared that letting go would somehow be a crippling experience. She was afraid that if she ever faced her real feelings of grief and loss, they would disable her. Death appeared to be the only escape. In the scenario of a crumbling building, God was the one in control. Jill's image of God was punitive - a notion that, for some, perpetuates the abortion experience.

Risk-Taking and Other Self-Destructive Tendencies

Fran was another woman who wanted to die at God's hands. To invite this judgment on herself, she went out into the middle of a field and stood in a large puddle during a thunderstorm. She waited for the lightning to strike her dead - an act of God to punish her for the abortion she could no longer put out of her mind. This, of course, appears to be an extraordinary reaction and certainly irrational. But women's feelings about abortion are dramatic and can therefore draw out dramatic expressions of their innermost feelings.

Paige described her abortion experience in terms of having been through a war, and her abortion as a "land mine" she walked on one day. Ever since, she had tried desperately to pick up the pieces of her shattered emotional life. She struggled with chronic episodes of crippling depression and had to be hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and tendencies on the anniversary date of her abortion.

Studies show that post-abortive women are more likely to be involved in accidents16 - a reflection of risk-taking and suicidal behavior. For example, researchers in Canada found that women who had undergone an abortion in the previous year were treated 25 percent more often for injuries or conditions resulting from violence.17 Similarly, a study of Medicaid payments in Virginia found that women who had state-funded abortions had 12 percent more claims for treatments related to accidents (resulting in 52 percent higher costs) compared to a case-matched sample of women who had not had a state-funded abortion.18 Yet another study of women in California found that women who had abortions were 82 percent more likely to die from accident-related injuries than women who had carried to term.19

Camille, for example, described how her life was an emotional wreck, which magnetically attracted physical wrecks.

I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I talked to myself a lot, even in public. I had screaming fits when I was home alone. I screamed until every nerve in my body became like an electric wire, vibrating with overwhelming anger and energy. I had about seven serious accidents, too, and one total wreck. I just didn't care any more.

Self-destructive tendencies can also be played out through self-sabotage of opportunities and relationships. Such patterns of self-defeating behavior may persist for years. For example, Laura had an abortion when she was 15. Immediately afterward, she became promiscuous, and by the time she was 18, she was involved with an abusive man.

Every few years I would go into a downward spiral and fall into a deep black hole. I would go on a binge, doing anything and everything to destroy my life around me. I contemplated suicide, was on anti-depressants and drank heavily.

Then when I was 20 years old I married my best friend. But nobody understood (nor did I) the pain, guilt and trauma I had experienced. We had a child 6 months later - a full-term baby girl - the joy of my life. I was determined to be a good mother, and I was and am.

Even though I had a husband and a life, when my daughter was two years old, I began an affair with a co-worker. I kicked my husband out of the house, and professed that I no longer loved him, because I was so unhappy with myself.

I never could figure out what caused me to act this way. It would last one to three months and I would be OK. Then four years later, I would do something else to destroy myself or my life. I never inflicted physical pain on myself, just mentally hurting myself and everyone around me and trying to destroy everything in my life. After all, how could I be happy if I killed a child? I didn't deserve to be happy. I needed to be self-destructive so this baby would know that I didn't do it on purpose and I would show it how life was without it. Horrible. Although I had sought counseling several times, and always brought up the abortion (it always came up), the counselor would not address it, just skim over it.

Laura felt that after her abortion, she didn't deserve happiness. Whenever happiness came to her, even through her family, she felt compelled to upset and destroy it, if only to prove to her aborted child that she had not stopped grieving.


1 J. Wall, "A Study of Alcoholism in Women," American Journal of Psychiatry 93:943, 1937; G. Lolli, "Alcoholism in Women," Connecticut Rev. Alcoholism 5:9-11, 1953. [Back]

2 E. Morrissey and M. Schuckit,"Stressful life events and alcohol problems among women seen at a detoxicahon center," J. Studies Alcohol 39(9):1559-1576 (1978); R.W. Wllsnack, S.C. Wllsnack and A.D. Klassen, "Women's drinking and drinking problems: Patterns from a 1981 national survey," Am. J. Public Health 74:1231-1238 (1984); A. Klassen and S. VV,lsnack, "Sexual experience and drinking among women in a U.S. national survey," Arch. Sex. Behav. 15(5):363 (1986); Thomas et. al., "Psychosocial characteristics of psychiatric inpatients with reproductive losses," op. cit. (ch. 10, no. 8); S.J. Drower and E.S. Nash, "Therapeutic abortion on psychiatric grounds. Part I. A local study," S. African Medical J. 54(15):604-608 (Oct. 7, 1978); L.G. Keith et. al., "Substance abuse in pregnant women: recent experience at the Perinatal Center for Chemical Dependence of Northwestern Memorial Hospital," Obstet. Gynecol. 73(5, Pt. 1):715-720 (May 1989); K. Yamaguchi, "Drug use and its social covariates from the period of adolescence to young adulthood. Some implications from longitudinal studies,"Recent Deu Alcohol 8:125-143 (1990); H. Amaro et. al., "Drug use among adolescent mothers: profile of risk," Pediatrics 84(1):144-151 (July 1989); A.S. Oro and S.D. Dixon, "Prenatal cocaine and methamphetamine exposure: maternal and neo-natal correlates," Pediatrics 111(4):571-578 (1987); D.A. Frank et. al., "Cocaine use during pregnancy, prevalence and correlates," Pediatrics 82(6):888-895 (Dec. 1988). [Back]

3 David C. Reardon and Philip G. Ney, "Abortion and subsequent substance abuse," Am. J. Drug Alcohol Abuse 26(1):61-75 (2000). [Back]

4 Ibid. [Back]

5 Wallerstein, Kurtz, and Bar-Din, "Psychological Sequelae of Therapeutic Abortion in Young Unmarried Women," Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 27:828 (1972). [Back]

6 David C. Reardon, "The Abortion/Suicide Connection," The Post Abortion Review 1(2):1-2 (Summer 1993). [Back]

7 B. Garfinkle et. al, Stress, Depression and Suicide: A Study of Adolescents in Minnesota (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Extension Service, 1986). [Back]

8 See Appendix C. [Back]

9 Herman, Trauma and Recovery, op. cit. (ch. 8, no. 5) 50. [Back]

10 Gissler et. al., "Suicides after pregnancy in Finland," op. cit. (ch. 2, no. 23). [Back]

11 David C. Reardon, et al., "Deaths Associated with Pregnancy Outcome," op. cit. (ch. 2, no. 24). [Back]

12 Christopher L. Morgan, et. al., "Mental health may deteriorate as a direct effect of induced abortion," letters section, BMJ 314:902, 22 March, 1997. [Back]

13 See also Carl Tischler, "Adolescent Suicide Attempts Following Elective Abortion," Pediatrics 68(5):670 (1981); E. Joanne Angelo, "Psychiatric Sequelae of Abortion: The Many Faces of Post-Abortion Grief," Linacre Quarterly 59:69-80 (May 1992); David Grimes, "Second-Trimester Abortions in the United States, Family Planning Perspectives 16(6):260; Myre Sim and Robert Neisser, "Post-Abortive Psychoses," in The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, ed. D. Mall and W.F. Watts, (Washington D.C.: University Publications of America, 1979); H. Houston and L. Jacobson, "Overdose and termination of pregnancy: an important association?" Br. J. Gen Pract. 46(413):737-738, Dec. 1996. [Back]

14 L. Appleby, "Suicide during pregnancy and in the first postnatal year," British Medical Journal 302:137-140 (1991); B. Jansson, "Mental disorders after abortion," Acta Psychiatr Scand. 41(1):87-110 (1965); G. Hoyer and E. Lund, "Suicide among women related to number of children in marriage," Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 50(2):134-137 (Feb. 1993). [Back]

15 M.M. Linehan, J.L. Goodstein, S.L. Nielsen, and J.A. Chiles, "Reasons for staying alive when you are thinking about killing yourself: The reasons for living inventory," J. Counseling Clinical Psychology 51(2):276-286 (1983). [Back]

16 Tischler, "Adolescent Suicide Attempts Following Elective Abortion"; and Angelo, "Psychiatric Sequelae of Abortion." Both op. cit. (ch. 13, no. 13). [Back]

17 R.F. Badgley, D.F. Caron and M.G. Powell, Report of the Committee on the Operation of the Abortion Law (Ottawa: Supply and Services, Ottawa, 1977) 313-321. [Back]

18 J. Nelson, "Data request from Delegate Marshall, Interagency Memorandum," Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, Mar. 21, 1997. [Back]

19 Reardon et al., "Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome," op. cit. (ch. 2, no. 24). [Back]

Additional Resources on Post-Abortion Issues

  1. Forbidden Grief by Theresa Burke and David C. Reardon
  2. Making Abortion Rare by David C. Reardon
  3. The Jericho Plan by David C. Reardon
  4. Victims and Victors by David C. Reardon et alii
  5. Aborted Women, Silent No More by David C. Reardon
  6. Detrimental Effects of Abortion by Thomas W. Strahan

Available through Acorn Books at 1-888-412-2676
Acorn Books,
PO Box 7348
Springfield, IL. 62791

Theresa Burke, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and founder of Rachel's Vineyard, a post-abortion training and healing ministry that annually serves thousands of women and couples throughout North America and overseas.

David C. Reardon, Ph.D., is one of the nations's leading researchers and authors on post-abortion issues and the founding director of the Elliot Institute.