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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Excellent letter by Bernadette of Women Hurt in today's Irish Times

There is an excellent letter in today's Irish Times from Bernadette Goulding of Women Hurt
Sir, – Mary Favier of Doctors for Choice (Opinion, February 25th) raises the absence of the voices of post-abortive Irish women at the recent Oireachtas hearings on abortion. As an Irish woman who had an abortion, I wish to raise a voice that is often ignored, that is the voice of the thousands of women who have been deeply hurt by their abortion.I know from my own experience and from working with other women who have suffered after abortion that the grief is nearly always hidden.There is no body, no funeral, no graveside, no family and friends to grieve your loss. I regularly meet women who are suffering serious mental trauma after an abortion. People in favour of abortion sometimes blame this on social, cultural or religious conditioning.However, I have found the same suffering in many other countries where I have worked with post-abortive women.I, and women like me, would be failing mothers, fathers, medical professionals, legislators, and society in general if we did not share our experience of abortion and how it impacted so negatively on our lives. We are not women crying over “products of conception”. We are crying over the loss of our babies, the children that will never sit at our dinner table, never have a birthday party or hold their own child.Abortion damages women and ends the life of an unborn child. Women like me feel invisible in this debate and feel ignored by many of the women’s groups that are supposed to represent all women. The denial surrounding abortion regret is something that we need to deal with as a society and the voices of women who have experienced abortion and suffered as a result are voices that must be consulted as this debate continues. – Yours, etc,BERNADETTE GOULDING,
Women Hurt,
Sussex Road, Dublin 4.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Young woman dies following botched abortion of unborn daughter with 'fetal abnormalities'

Last Sunday, a young woman walked into an abortion clinic in Maryland, USA. She was 33 weeks pregnant and had a multi-day abortion procedure performed at the clinic by Dr. LeRoy Carhart.

By Thursday of that week, she and her unborn child were both dead.

Jennifer McKenna Morbelli with her husband TJ Morbelli

Jennifer McKenna Morbelli was 29 years old. She was a Kindergarten teacher. She was married to her high school sweetheart, TJ, and was 33 weeks pregnant. She had already named her daughter Madison Leigh.  This was a planned pregnancy which became unwanted when Jennifer discovered that her unborn daughter had abnormalities. Two weeks after learning of her daughter's disabilities, Jennifer travelled from her home in New York to Dr. Carhart's clinic in Germantown, Maryland. Dr. Carhart performs late-term abortions at the Germantown Reproductive Health Services Clinic. He is one of a limited number of abortionists in the United States who perform these late-term abortions. Dr. Carhart is known as a "circuit abortionist", travelling between three different states to perform second and third trimester abortions. His license to perform abortions in Maryland was renewed the week of Jennifer's death, despite the clinic never having been inspected by the state's department of health and despite Carhart's track record (including taking phone calls during abortion procedures, falling asleep during abortion procedures, falsifying medical records, performing botched procedures causing several other emergency hospitalisations and the death of at least one other woman). Carhart is also under criminal investigation by the Nebraska Attorney General's Office regarding illegal activity at his abortion clinic in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Jennifer arrived at Carhart's Germantown abortion clinic on Sunday (3 February 2013). Sidewalk counsellors at the clinic say that she was accompanied by some family members who stayed with her at a hotel near the Germantown clinic, which is common for women having multi-day late-term abortions. It is believed that on Sunday - her first day attending the clinic - Dr. Carhart administered a lethal injection into her daughter's heart. Jennifer then left the clinic, to give time for the lethal injection to bring about "fetal demise"  (i.e. death of the baby).

On Monday, Jennifer returned to the clinic and was given drugs to induce labour to deliver her daughter (at this stage deceased). On Wednesday, Jennifer was in active labour and ready to deliver her daughter. At about 7:30am on Wednesday morning, she presented at the Germantown clinic once more. She stayed at the clinic until about 4:30pm - a 9 hour stay. Shortly after she left the clinic on Wednesday, Dr. Carhart also left to take a flight to another city to perform more abortions.

By the following morning (Thursday) Jennifer was becoming increasingly unwell, experiencing intense pain and shortness of breath. Her family were concerned, and tried contacting Dr. Carhart multiple times but were not able to get through to him and he did not return their calls. At 5am Jennifer was admitted to Shady Grove Hospital in nearby Rockville, Maryland after presenting at the Emergency Department there. Doctors at Shady Grove determined that Jennifer was suffering from internal bleeding in the abdominal area. The hospital staff made contact with Dr. Carhart during this time, but he did not come to the hospital. Jennifer was in a critical condition, with the staff doing everything they could in an attempt to save her.

At 10 am on 7 February 2013, Jennifer McKenna Morbelli was pronounced dead at Shady Grove Hospital.
Because she was an otherwise healthy 29 year old woman, the hospital contacted the state medical examiner upon her death. The medical examiner spent almost 5 hours with her medical records.The Washington Post reports that the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Montgomery County Police Department have both launched official investigations into this case.

Our thoughts must go immediately to Jennifer's husband, who loses both his daughter and wife, as well as to Jennifer's wider family and circle of friends, as they attempt to come to terms with this enormous tragedy. You may leave a message of condolence to Jennifer's family on the tribute wall here.

This story also prompts us to consider the presentation of abortion as a solution when couples are faced with a pre-natal diagnosis of abnormalities. Many pro-choice groups, including Choice Ireland, Abortion Rights Campaign, and most notably Termination For Medical Reasons are advocating that abortion be legalised for the cases of babies diagnosed with abnormalities before birth. The case of Jennifer McKenna Morbelli highlights how inhumane abortion is to these mothers, as well as to their babies. Abortion comes with a range of possible complications, including death as, sadly, happened in the case of Jennifer.

Being told your baby will die at birth or shortly thereafter is devastating news for any couple. Many parents feel so distressed that they seek abortion as a way to end their pain. But abortion is an irrevocable decision. Abortion robs parents of the chance to get to meet their baby.

For several years, pro-life organisations have been calling for the foundation of a national perinatal hospice unit to care for mothers and babies who face these difficult diagnoses. The video below explains what care is provided by a perinatal hospice, and how important that care is.

Perinatal hospices care for the mother through pregnancy - providing holistic care including counselling. The same team that cares for the mother during her pregnancy will care for her at the delivery. Often there will be a photographer present to document precious memories with the baby. Some babies may only survive a few minutes or hours. Others will live for days or weeks and will be cared for at a children's hospice. Others will go home and live with their families for weeks or months before passing away.

The ethos that underpins the perinatal hospice is one that honours life, and honours the mother-child bond. A perinatal hospice would have honoured little Madison Leigh's life, however short. Her parents would have gotten to meet her and spend precious time holding, bathing and dressing her before saying goodbye. And her mother, Jennnifer McKenna Morbelli, would not have endured the grisly abortion procedure that took her life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Woman hurt by abortion speaks at Vigil For Life

On Saturday, over 25,000 people gathered at Merrion Square in Dublin for the 'Vigil For Life' event.

One of the speakers at the Vigil For Life was Bernadette Goulding, a woman hurt by abortion. Bernadette is a founding member of Women Hurt, a group that seeks to reach out to women who have been hurt by abortion.

Bernadette told her story of having an abortion aged 19 in England and the trauma and suffering she endured over several years as a result of the abortion. She said: 
 "Abortion changed my whole life. Before the abortion, I was never told how much I would grieve and mourn the loss of my baby. Nobody mentioned anything about the emotional scars I would carry with me from that day forward."

You can read her story in full here.

Bernadette speaking at the Vigil For Life
Bernadette urged people to oppose the current plans to legalise abortion in this country, because abortion is inhuman to women, as well as their unborn babies. She echoed one of the themes of the vigil:  love them both.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Experiences of women hurt by abortion in Saturday's Independent

On Saturday, the Independent published an article by Celine Naughton about abortion in Ireland. The article addressed the legal definition of the unborn, political discussion on the right to life, and the experiences of women who have had abortions. The following excerpt is the experiences of two women hurt by abortion. You can read the article in full here

Last year, in this newspaper, I interviewed Bernadette Goulding, a grandmother from Cork, who revealed the heartache she had carried with her for years, having had an abortion in England at the age of 19. Frightened, lonely and ashamed, she made her decision in haste and for a year afterwards she took to carrying around a doll in her handbag and cradling it when she got home from work."When I discovered I was pregnant, I was terrified. What would my parents think if they found out? I couldn't bring that shame on the family," she said."Afterwards, I was consumed by guilt. I thought I'd be better off dead because I'd done something so awful."

Lynn Coles from Belfast felt betrayed when she discovered that the baby she had been pressured into having aborted as a teenager was more than the "blob of cells" that the doctors had described."I felt angry at myself for getting pregnant, at my boyfriend for not protecting me and at the figures of authority who encouraged me to have an abortion," she said. Bernadette and Lynn set up a support group called Women Hurt to help others deal with regrets over abortion.

Lynn Coles and Bernadette Goulding of Women Hurt

Friday, May 18, 2012

CPP report shows 44% of women regret abortion

The Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010 (ICCP 2010) is a comprehensive study produced by the HSE's Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP). 

The study shows that 44% of women expressed varying degrees of regret about their abortions. 
The study showed that 31% of women who had abortion experienced "some regrets", with 13% reporting that they experienced “a lot of regrets”. This represents an increase from 2003, when 22% reported experiencing some regret, with 11% saying they had a lot of regrets.

The report did not investigate mental health impact of abortion. This is surprising given that there are now a large number of studies showing that abortion presents a considerable risk to the mental health of women.

There has been considerable media attention on the stories of women who wish to legalise abortion in Ireland. The same media attention is not, and ought to be, given to the large numbers of women in Ireland who regret their abortion.

The report can be found in full here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Abortion and Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders May Be a Symptom of Trauma

Millions have trouble sleeping due to stress, lack of time or various sleep disorders. But for many for many women, a sleep disorder may be the result of something deeper: trauma as a result of abortion, including coerced and unwanted abortions.

A 2006 study published in Sleep, the official journal of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, found that women who experienced abortion were more likely to be treated for sleep disorders or disturbances compared to women who gave birth.1

The researchers examined medical records for 56,284 low-income women in California who gave birth or underwent an abortion in the first six months of 1989. They excluded women who had been treated for sleep disturbances or disorders in the 12 to 18 months prior to abortion or delivery.

The data showed that, up to four years later, women who underwent abortions were more likely to be treated for sleep disorders afterwards compared to those who gave birth. The difference was greatest during the first 180 days after the end of the pregnancy, when aborting women were approximately twice as likely to seek treatment for sleep disorders. Significant differences between aborting and child-bearing women persisted for three years.

More research is needed to to see if women who have abortions are more likely to experience specific symptoms of sleep disturbance and whether those symptoms could be markers for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other problems.

Numerous studies have shown that trauma victims will often experience sleep difficulties. The authors believe their findings support a growing understanding that some women may have traumatic reactions to abortion. In a 2004 study of American and Russian women who had abortions:

65% of American women reported multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which they linked to their abortions,

Over 14% reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion-induced PTSD,

30% reported nightmares, and

23% reported sleeping disorders that they attributed to their abortions.2

In the book Forbidden Grief, author and therapist Dr. Theresa Burke notes that nightmares and insomnia a commonly reported among women after abortion. She writes: "When the conscious mind sleeps, the defense mechanisms in charge of repelling unwanted thoughts are relaxed. This is why intrusive thoughts related to a suppressed trauma often arise in the form of dreams or nightmares."3

Other studies have found that women with a history of abortion are subsequently at increased risk for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, psychiatric hospitalization, and other problems.

This research points to a need for health care providers to regularly inquire about prior pregnancy loss, as identification of unresolved grief and trauma issues may improve treatment of sleep disorders, anxiety, and other psychiatric problems after abortion.


1. DC Reardon and PK Coleman, “Relative Treatment Rates for Sleep Disorders and Sleep Disturbances Following Abortion and Childbirth: A Prospective Record Based-Study,” Sleep 29(1):105-106, 2006.

2. VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10:SR5-16, 2004.

3. T. Burke with D. Reardon, Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2007).


Study: Abortion Provides No Mental Health Benefits to Women, Even When Pregnancy is Unwanted

Abortion Linked to Increase in Mental Health Disorders

Abortion provides no mental health benefits to women and increases the odds that they will develop mental health disorders, according to a new study headed by a pro-choice researcher from New Zealand and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.1

The study, which found that women were 30 percent more likely to experience mental health disorders after abortion than they were for other pregnancy outcomes, could have serious implications for the legality of abortion in some countries.

The results came from an ongoing survey that tracked women in the Christchurch area of New Zealand from birth to age 30. A subsample of about 530 women were given questions about their pregnancy history and mental health outcomes, including being asked whether the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted, and their initial reaction to the pregnancy at the time.

The researchers compared women who had either given birth, had a miscarriage or had an abortion. They found that, after controlling for other variables that could influence the result, abortion was associated with a subsequent increase a variety of mental health disorders, including alcohol and drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, anxiety disorders and major depression. In contrast, giving birth or having a miscarriage were not "consistently related" to an increase in mental health problems.

Most notably, the study found that women who continued an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy did not experience a significant increase in mental health problems. This challenges pro-abortion arguments that abortion is better for women than carrying an "unwanted" pregnancy to term.

1. Fergusson, DM et. al., "Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year-longitudinal study," The British Journal of Psychiatry (2008), 193: 444-451.