Dr. Theresa Burke, Founder and Executive Director of Rachel’s Vineyard and Pastoral Associate for Priests for Life. Below are comments made by her regarding the Danish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A person’s immediate emotional response to a traumatic event does not solely determine whether or not that person will suffer the symptoms of trauma. A considerable period of time may intervene between the trauma-causing event and the traumatic reaction. For example, imagine a new terrorist recruit who is instructed to throw a bomb over a wall. At the sound of the explosion, the young terrorist may actually feel powerful rather than helpless, courageous rather than fearful, jubilant rather than horrified. But if the young bomb thrower later walks around the wall and sees the bodies of his victims, his emotional response might be instantly changed. Though in his mind he knew what to expect, the horror of actually seeing the results of his act may overwhelm his intellectual justifications for doing what “had to be done.” If he subsequently develops symptoms of hyper-arousal, intrusion and constriction, he has developed PTSD.
Similarly, for many women, the traumatic nature of their abortion is not fully released until some subsequent event triggers a fuller understanding of everything that has happened. In the case of abortion, PTSD symptoms can obviously be triggered by exposure to the ghastly image of a dismembered fetus. But a similar sense of horror can also be triggered by what are normally wonderful experiences. Any experience that arouses a sense of awe about the value of life can trigger the release of a traumatic reaction to a past abortion. From such a summit of awe, the memory of having been involved in an abortion may suddenly appear to be a terrible horror.
We can see the nation’s traumatic reaction to the “house of horrors” in Philadelphia, where abortionist Dr. Gosnell was recently charged with murder. The Doctor had his own trauma inspired collection of baby body parts, with a particular fetish for fetus feet, openly displayed in every crevice of the clinic, including the refrigerator where employees kept their lunches! When we actually imagine the result of abortion violence stuffed in jars, and we hear about the blood splattered walls of the poor women who died during abortion — we can recognize the disgusting horror that abortion is. And in case you agree with Philadelphia’s Mayor Ed Rendell who thinks we need to make abortion “safe for the fetus!” you’re in a serious pathological state of denial. Philadelphia’s nightmare clinic differs little from abortion clinics across the country, or from inside the minds of moms and dads who regret their choice and suffer nightmares, intrusive imagery, depression anxiety and addictions. They end up with the same violently dismembered dead babies – but most clinics at least try to dispose of the evidence. And the hundreds of women who have died by legal abortion, or commit suicide because of abortion, or go on to have multiple abortions as a symptom of trauma – well, this is outside the realm of confounding variables that activist researchers want to highlight. Please spare us the lies and “scientific” cover-up.
Mothers know the sad truth — those who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion have endured an unspeakable trauma – a hideous unspoken violence.
I’ve spent the last 25 years counseling women whose hearts and minds have been fractured by abortion in Rachel’s Vineyard weekends for healing after abortion. Our program has spread to 30 countries and is conducted in 10 languages. That’s because women and men are hurting and haunted by the memory and reality of abortion. My book Forbidden Grief – The Unspoken Pain of Abortion provides information and research about abortion trauma and over 300 pages of compelling evidence.
The testimonies of hundreds of women and men in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign share the voice of experience that won’t be translated any time soon into studies funded by Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes and advocates of abortion. That would not be good for business. That’s why most people promoting abortion suffer from hyper-arousal and a need to blatantly deny the pain, the mental illness, the horror. They want us all to pretend that to destroy one’s baby is normal and psychologically, emotionally and spiritually free of any negative consequences. That’s rubbish – not reality. There appears to be a disturbing collusion by agenda driven researchers who masquerade activism as science, and as long as abortion is debated, these misguided representations of science actually shape public policy, legislation, and individual choices, to insure that the money and lies keep flowing along with the blood of babies and the tears of broken hearted mothers.
Theresa Burke, Ph.D., LPC, NCP
Founder, Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries
For a critique of the flawed methodology in the Danish Study please read Dr. Pricilla Coleman’s response.