The number of abortions is increasingly growing in France. What is thus the psychological impact of abortion for all the people involved in this practice?
Investigation in hospitals
During several months, Sabine Faivre conducted an investigation within the hospital; she observed in a “neutral” way and listened to people, from social worker to physicians, from women and couples concerned to marriage guidance counsellors and to nurse team; thus she retranscribed the reality experienced today by each actor1.
Each actor is the isolated link of a chain, over which it often has the feeling to have no hold, and which can restrict it to choices that go against its freedom of conscience. Each one also intends to protect itself worthy of its means, most often by toughening beyond a wall of silence and lies in order not to recognise the failure of the law on voluntary termination of pregnancy (VTP). At all levels, testimonies are often poignant and if most people have the feeling to do well, the general atmosphere that prevails is one of a site where despair and death have finally the last word. Some physicians confess, “We, physicians think to be useful, while we dug into a deeper hole”, “the voluntary termination of pregnancy can completely destroy a woman (…) but we have no choice”…
The investigation conducted by Sabine Faivre particularly shows the immense loneliness and the lack of information for women who abort: wanting to dissuade a woman from aborting, only by presenting alternatives to abortion, the possible assistances… it runs the risk to be liable for prosecution. If everybody intimately knows that “the after-period of VTP” will be painful, the social worker who would take the risk to deal with the matter, for information purposes, could be accused of dissuading the woman, while this lack of information is felt as a hindrance to freedom of choice. “A pregnant woman in distress who hesitates, it is like a sand grain likely to block the gears; in this conditions, it is better not to loose time”, says a social worker. Since the law has included the hindrance to VTP in the criminal code, social workers know that they do not have the right to intervene. The difficulty is growing with a provision in the last law: since 4 July 2001, women can even go to abort without previous interview with social workers.
To the limit of maltreatment
The author tells the pain of minor girls who aborted under the constraint and the pressure of their family or third person, while they wanted to keep their baby; since incitation to abortion is not any more a reprehensible act, how to distinguish the incitation from the constraint when it deals with a vulnerable and dependant person?
Lies and taboo
At all levels, we have to deal with a big lie:
– Lie about the reasons: women put forward the economic aspect not to recognise that they are unable to manage their sexuality and their fecundity;
– Lie about the reality of the act: some teams prefer surgical VTP because they see the woman going to the operating block and going back almost in the same state; they did not see or hear something, this enables them to erase the event. “Women who have voluntary termination of pregnancy using RU 486 have an even bad experience because they assist to their abortion in live; they collect themselves the pieces of the abortion “;
– Lies about the consequences: the pain associated to abortion is taboo; it is not recognised in our society. Nevertheless, women who go to the doctor to have a post VTP follow-up know that to overcome their pain and to reconstruct themselves, they will have to name the lost child.
In summary, voluntary termination of pregnancy is experienced as a very isolated drama: isolated before the alternatives which could enable avoiding it, and isolated after the listening and accompanying proposals which could enable curing it. As it is conceived, the plan looks like a kind of descendant spiral into which individuals have no other choice but to fall. All recognise that the contraceptive failure leads undoubtedly towards abortion. Faced with the emergency to act, would the solution be found in the education of a responsible sexuality which would have the benefit to be at men service, about whom we do not talk a lot, as well as women?
1. La vérité sur l’avortement aujourd’hui, Sabine Faivre, ed. Téqui, 2006