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October 21, 1992

The Myth of the Abortion Trauma Syndrome

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago (III) Medical Center.

JAMA. 1992;268(15):2078-2079. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490150130038

THIS is an article about a medical syndrome that does not exist. A so-called abortion trauma syndrome has been described in written material and on television and radio programs. For example, leaflets warning of deleterious physical and emotional consequences of abortion have been distributed on the streets of cities in the United States.1 Women who have undergone induced abortion are said to suffer an "abortion trauma syndrome or "postabortion trauma" that will cause long-term damage to their health. One such leaflet states,

Most often a woman will feel the consequences of her decision within days of her abortion. If they don't appear immediately, they will appear as she gets older. Emotional scars include unexplained depression, a loss of the ability to get close to others, repressed emotions, a hardening of the spirit, thwarted maternal instincts (which may lead to child abuse or neglect later in Ufe), intense feelings of