Welcome back on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade!
While we're celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the day also serves to remind us of the major shortfalls of women's health care in the United States, as well as the complex politics and misinformation surrounding abortion rights. The New York Times Magazine published an article yesterday about anti-choicers who claim that abortions lead to struggles with depression, drug abuse, and other psychological problems—even though no scientific research exists to support the claim. Peer-reviewed studies have consistently demonstrated that whether a woman gives birth or has an abortion, she faces the same likelihood of future depression or drug abuse.
The article follows Rhonda Arias, one of these post-abortion syndrome crusaders, as she 'helps' women in prisons deal with their depression, which Arias credits to emotional fallout from past abortions. It interests me that Arias has targeted imprisoned women; my guess is that these women receive little other emotional support outside of her pseudoscience abortion counseling services, and it scares me that people like Arias are able to take advantage of a vulnerable population to crusade for their own unfounded ideas about women's health. Arias' program encourages women "to think about whether they were pressured into ending their pregnancies and to connect this with other experiences of feeling powerless." It's a cruel irony that Arias has found some of the most powerless women—female prisoners—and further removed their ability to receive accurate information and help dealing with their emotions.
This quote sums up how I feel about these so-called 'counselors':
"Abortion-recovery counselors like Arias could focus on why women don’t have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end. They could call for improving the circumstances of women’s lives in order to reduce the number of abortions. Instead they are working to change laws to restrict and ban abortion."
The article also brings to light a seemingly frightening failure of the abortion-rights movement to advocate for post-abortion psychological care for women. Because we are eager to assure women that abortion-related depression is uncommon and rare, some women do not receive the health care they need after an abortion. It appears that more agitation is needed in this arena to open access to counseling without making it mandatory or infringing on a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion.
The article, by Emily Bazelon (a senior editor at Slate) is worth a read, if only to reinvigorate you to keep fighting for women's rights. Happy Roe v. Wade day!