- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2004

Proposed legislation to fund research on post-abortion depression is a long-overdue step in the right direction, say the bill’s proponents.

The Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, allocates $15 million to the National Institutes of Health in the next five years to “expand and intensify research and related activities” of post-abortion conditions.

The bill is in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Also included in the bill is a clause providing $1.5 million in grants for public or nonprofit groups that provide services for diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to post-abortion depression, such as suicidal urges and emotional detachment.

“We can’t ignore that there are real effects on women who have abortions,” said Mr. Pitts’ press secretary, Derek Karchner. “We can’t just turn our backs on that.”

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not classify post-abortion depression as a mental disorder and does not have experts on the subject.

Vicki Thorn, executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, said the condition is comparable to other stress syndromes.

“It’s not unlike what we looked at after Vietnam, when we started seeing post-traumatic stress issues,” she said.

Although APA representative Jason Young said he agreed there are physical and psychological issues women face after having an abortion, “it’s not so neat and clean as to whether post-abortion depression exists.”

This is not the first time such a bill has been presented to Congress, but Mr. Karchner said hopes are high for this legislation to be taken seriously. If the bill does not pass, he said it probably would resurface next year.

Georgette Forney, president of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life, said the introduction of the bill is encouraging to women who have suffered the physical and emotional effects of an abortion.

“Even the language [of the bill] is truly sensitive to understanding a woman’s heart and recognizing that it might be years and years before we’re ready to seek help,” Mrs. Forney said.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Virginia Republican, and 27 other Republicans.

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