- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

Healing abortion's other victims

I'm grateful to The Washington Times for publishing "Abortion, death rate linked in study" (Nation, Sunday).

As a graduate student in psychology in the early 1980s, I was assigned to work with a group of women with severe eating disorders. One night during the group meeting, it became dramatically clear that all but two participants were experiencing painful and traumatic feelings surrounding earlier abortions.

When I told my supervisor about the fiery dynamics that had erupted in our group when one woman reported abortion-related flashbacks and that her ex-husband was leaving daily phone messages calling her a murderer because of an abortion, my supervisor shook his finger in my face and said, "You have no business prying into people's abortions. Abortion is a private thing."

Following this experience, I established one of the first therapeutic support groups for healing after abortion. After working in these groups for eight years, in 1995 I published my first book, a treatment model for groups titled "Rachel's Vineyard: A Psychological and Spiritual Journey for Healing After Abortion." I later condensed the program and began offering Rachel's Vineyard as a weekend retreat.

In the mid-1990s, people from around the country began to hear about the Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreats for healing after abortion. In 1997, four retreats were offered. In 2003, there will be 180 retreats in 43 states and four countries. Many brave and compassionate women who thought they would never recover from the emotional and spiritual wounds of abortion now lead retreat teams.

I am not a statistician or researcher, so I won't comment on the three recent studies in the British Medical Journal, the Southern Medical Journal and the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that show a strong correlation between abortion and later emotional problems. But I do know from my experience working with women and men all over the country that many individuals experience long-lasting emotional distress after abortion.

That is why we have experienced such a huge demand for our retreat. My focus is not to argue about how many people are affected, but to reach out to those who are and give them a place to heal. In our society, anyone who experiences negative feelings after abortion is apt to feel quite alone, and as if they must be crazy. My latest book, "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion," examines abortion within the framework of trauma and explores how traumatic abortions can be re-enacted through repeat pregnancies, multiple abortions, eating disorders, substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors, suicide and broken relationships.

The emotional, political and religious sensitivities around the issue often inhibit an open professional and media dialogue concerning women's emotional experience of terminating a pregnancy. If a person has ambivalent or unresolved feelings about abortion, this may interfere with the accurate assessment of grief and the ability to be patient and empathetic.



Rachel's Vineyard

King of Prussia, Pa.

More shenanigans with 'Seward's Folly'

The kleptocrats in the Russian government are at it again: That country's senate is trying to take more American Alaskan territory in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea ("Senate wants new U.S. sea pact," World, Sept. 4). And who is abetting them but the State Department, which has favored giving away eight strategic American Alaskan islands and vast resource-rich seabeds to the Russians since 1990. Unless it is stopped, the State Department probably will backtrack even more.

There are billions of barrels of oil at stake in and around these islands Wrangell, Herald, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta in the Arctic Ocean, and Copper, Sea Lion Rock and Sea Otter Rock at the end of the Aleutian chain along with millions of pounds of fish. In fact, the islands could be the forward outposts for the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between Alaska's congressional delegation and its state government. Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank H. Murkowski and Rep. Don Young favor the giveaway. The state Legislature has almost unanimously passed resolutions opposing it and demanding that the state government be involved in all negotiations that involve its own territory, boundaries and property. In a show of solidarity, the California Legislature has passed resolutions backing up Alaska's right.

I thought we won the Cold War. What's the State Department doing, acting like we were the losers?



State Department Watch


Standing by her man

Michelle Malkin, in her column "Down the aisle of terror" (Commentary, Monday), locks her mind in a dark basement full of ugly monsters, the ugliest one being her own distortions of the data she presents about American women married to Arab men.

There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong or evil or immoral about an American woman following both her heart and her head and marrying a Muslim or Arab man.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or evil or immoral about an American woman falling in love with and marrying a hardworking, kind, generous, thoughtful and American taxpayer who spends every cent he earns on his wife and children's comfort.

There is, however, something very wrong with marrying some wild or weird stranger regardless of his race or religion who offers cash for marriage and is very evasive and does not even introduce you to his parents.

I know this because I am an American woman who long ago married an American Arab Muslim who has consistently and always treated me far better than any other man I have ever known.

Mrs. Malkin should have criticized those foolish women she wrote about for their foolish choices in and of themselves. The fact that their foolish choices happened to involve men from the Middle East was irrelevant. Many an white American Christian has beaten his wife, but I doubt that will be her next theme.


Mechanicsburg, Pa.

'Show me the numbers'

I believe The Washington Times is playing a bit fast and loose in its zeal to all but promote the candidacy of Republican Ron Greer for Congress.

The title of the article, "Conservative black leads House's only avowed lesbian" (Nation, Sunday), leaves the reader with the impression that the minister is leading Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, in the polls.

The article, however, does not refer to any poll or data that would support the claim made in the headline. News headlines should be based upon documented facts and be consistent with the body of the story. This article should be substantiated (with credible polling data) or corrected.


San Diego

Bankruptcy bill is full of merit

The bankruptcy bill pending in Congress should be brought up as soon as possible and passed by both the House and Senate, for exactly the substantive reasons Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, stated in "Menace lurking in the bankruptcy bill" (Commentary, Tuesday).

The bill itself is very promising, as Mr. Pitts pointed out. It marks the first meaningful reform of the nation's bankruptcy code in 25 years, truly making it more difficult for borrowers, who can afford to repay, to dodge their obligations.

Above all, consumers will benefit over the long haul from this bill, especially in the case of credit union members. As cooperatively owned institutions, it is the members of the credit unions who share the burdens of higher fees and interest rates to make up for losses incurred by those who will not (not that they cannot) pay their bills as they promised.

Beyond these, however, there are other compelling reasons.

Bankruptcy filings continue to spiral out of sight. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts reports that personal bankruptcy filings for the second quarter of 2002 shattered all previous records. In fact, for the past 17 years, nonbusiness (consumer) filings have ballooned, and accounted for 97.3 percent of all bankruptcy filings last year.

It seems that personal bankruptcy has transcended from what it is intended to be a method to give those without any way to repay a "fresh start" to some sort of sport. For example, since 1997, the number of nonbusiness bankrupts has outpaced the number of college graduates in this country. In 2001, it was 1.45 million bankrupts to 1.22 million bachelor's degree recipients.

Clearly, something is out of balance. It is time to pass the bankruptcy bill. Congress must act now.


President and chief executive officer

Credit Union National Association


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