Reviews and Articles

Clinical Update
California Society of Clinical Social Work, Volume XXVIII, Number 1, July 1997

Reviewed by: Lucy Alarid, LCSW

This is not a book about judgment, politics or religion. It is not a book about right and wrong.” The reader will discover this statement to be true; a past abortion is considered without prejudice except that a woman deserves to address and heal from any emotional pain in her life – – including a past abortion.

The Healing Choice: Your Guide to Emotional Recovery After an Abortion addresses a much ignored psychotherapeutic issue. It is written as a user-friendly, self-help book and offers insights, guidance and exercises for a broad range of readers. It seems that it can also be used as a guide for psychotherapists regarding the emotions, issues, surrounding concerns and possible interventions for post-abortion clients.

Because of the cultural taboo surrounding the subject of abortion coupled by the belief that “since I chose the abortion, I have no right to feel badly about it,” too many women cut themselves off from the opportunity to explore their feelings and find a real sense of peace or closure.

Furthermore, considering the absence of focus on a woman’s reproductive life cycle by most graduate programs in social work and psychology, and considering the current politics involved in pro- and anti-choice factions taking extreme position about women’s post abortion experiences, it is significant that a major publisher has taken the risk to distribute a book that provides psychotherapeutic guidelines for post-abortion healing. The Healing Choice keeps its focus on the healing of the self, not on politics. It addresses the normal emotional discomfort of a past abortion. It points out that often hurtful feelings are about “other issues” surrounding an abortion and not the abortion itself. It encourages the reader to look at the abortion as a meaningful event that can give insight and depth to her life when it is understood. And it reminds the reader that one cannot “go through life squeaky clean,” and that adversity and tough decisions offer the possibility for personal growth and more consciousness of one’s human dimensions.

The California Therapist, September/October 1999

Reviewed by: Robyn Friedman Greene, MFCC

The authors point out the secrecy surrounding abortion in a society that is “openly confliced about it.” They note that “the quiet impact abortion has on the psychological life of the woman who makes this choice has gone unheard.” The authors describe abortion as a significant experience, yet one without cultural acknowledgement. They also believe that problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, anxiety and depression may be linked to unresolved feelings following an abortion.

The authors have taken us into well-traveled, but previously uncharted territory in writing about the abortion journey. They have provided an opportunity for women to heal by hearing about the experiences of other women.

OBGYN.net, Book Review, 1998

Authors Drs. Candace De Puy and Dana Dovitch, in their powerful book “The Healing Choice: Your Guide to Emotional Recovery After and Abortion,” are fearless, kind and uncompromisingly constructive about a woman’s ability to look at her experience about a past abortion squarely in the face. Although the problem is not simple, The Healing Choice’s approach is clear, strong, moving, helpful, non-political and non-biased.

Drs. De Puy and Dovitch are not politicians — they are psychotherapists and educators. Their concern isn’t about what is politically correct in Washington, D.C., in churches, in women’s groups or among their peers. Their concem is about the individual woman who may, like most, be too frightened by not only the culture and her family, but also by her personal inner-judgments to examine her own feelings about a past abortion.

The authors write with compassion that is never sappy or indulgent. They encourage the reader, most of whom may never reach for outside help from a counselor, friend or clergy, to be self-respectful as they work their way through the journal exercises in the book.

Grieving is a difficult experience. It is even more complex and complicated when one has chosen the loss. The Healing Choice offers a clear way through the maze of a woman’s inner life. It reminds her that none of use gets through life without hard calls – imperfection is inherent in our human existence.

Articles

Los Angeles Times, April 07, 1997
Bettijane Levine

Confronting Emotions After Abortion

Forget sex, politics, religion.

The woman who has had an abortion enters an alien land where none of the above compute. It is a land of buried emotion, where intellect and education are irrelevant, where other people’s judgments of you are never as harsh as your own.

“It is not a book about right or wrong,” the authors say.

“Beneath the clamor of the abortion debate, the quiet impact abortion has” on a woman’s psychological life “has gone unheard. [It] remains a significant personal experience that is not publicly recognized, socially sanctioned or frankly shared in the way a divorce, the death or a loved one, or a miscarriage might be.”  Because there is no charted course to help a woman heal, she is left to resolve her own feelings.

The book intends to chart that course. From pregnancy through abortion, to the aftermath of isolation from friends, to chapters on guilt, anger, spirituality, loss and healing, “The Healing Choice” is filled with homework-like exercises meant to help women explore where they are going and where they have been.

Psycheonline.org, 1998

The emotions felt by post-abortion women are normal and natural, but the shroud which cloaks any open discussion of these feelings remains heavy. So pervasive is the silence, that one might think abortion was rare. But abortion is not rare. 1.4 million American women and 50 million women worldwide terminate pregnancies each year. in the United States abortion is one of the most frequently performed medical procedures had by women. And 43 percent of American women will have at least one abortion by the time they reach age 45.

Many post-abortion women find themselves wrestling with the nagging urge to, once and for all, resolve the “rightness” or “wrongness” of their decision. Their internal debate reflects our culture’s insistence that we see every action and decision in “either/or” terms. Anything and everything, it seems, should be reduced to being either right or wrong, either true or false, either good or bad. We see wars this way, the choice of mates, careers, political parties and abortion too. In reality, the world is mostly one of “both/and” rather than “either/or.

With reflection and insight, post-abortion women often come to understand that it is normal to feel both relief over their decision to end an unwanted pregnancy and other uncomfortable feelings at the same time. They may feel relief over their choice and discomfort because they had the experience of an unwanted pregnancy in their life period! They may feel relief over their choice and guilt for going against a religious doctrine that does not support abortion. They may feel relief over their choice and anger that their birth control failed. (6 in 10 American women having abortions experienced a contraceptive failure.) They may feel relief over their choice and sadness that they could not find support from their boyfriend.

A destructive course of action is for a woman to remain silent about a past abortion, allowing her feelings to fester without insight or affirmation. Because an open dialogue may not be possible, the Healing Choice is to explore her experience within her journal or perhaps with a close friend. Then she may learn what her abortion cost her and what it gave her, how it hurt her and how it helped her, and how it can give her the courage to face the challenges yet to come in her life.