Lena Lennerhed


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    Abortion and psyche - Myths on abortion and mental disorder

    Lena Lennerhed, Professor in History of Ideas, Södertörn University and President of RFSU, the Swedish

    Association for Sexuality Education, Sweden

    In the presentation, the assumption that abortion leads to trauma or has other mental aftereffects, will be discussed. In particular, the theory on the so-called PAS, Post Abortion Syndrome (or PASS, or Post Abortion Stress Syndrome), and its impact on public debate on abortion in several countries since the 1980´s, will be focused.  PAS is not included in the International Classification of Diseases ICD or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM, and never was or is an acknowledged diagnosis or condition. The PAS theory plays a central role in the rethoric of many anti choicegroups.

    It will be shown, from swedish examples, that beneath psychiatric arguments often lies ethical ones; that trauma or disorder are related to the killing of the fetus and that this is unethical, and that these arguments sometimes goes back to religious ones. In addition, some references will be made to scientific studies on the issue. A result shared by many psychologists, psychiatrists, gynecologists and sociologists is that distress after abortion is moderate and temporary and that more severe reactions are rare. There are also studies showing that predominant reactions are relief and mental growth.