Abortion is often presented as a quick fix for women facing a crisis pregnancy. However, some women speak of grief and sorrow long after their abortion. They also recount how others encouraged and pressured them to have an abortion. In her book Giving Sorrow Words, Australian writer and researcher Melinda Tankard Reist features the personal stories of 18 women and “draws on the experience of more than 200 others.”

Ms. Reist writes: “Attitudes towards women overwhelmed by grief following abortion demonstrate a cruel indifference to women’s pain. Their suffering is considered a figment of their imagination; their guilt and remorse a byproduct of social/religious conditioning. In short, they are an embarrassment.”

“There is another constraint on their expression of grief. The politics surrounding abortion has drowned out the voices of women harmed by it.”

“Women whose lives are shattered by the abortion experience and for whom abortion was not a ‘maturational milestone’ and who did not feel it made them a ‘mistress of their own destiny’, are cast aside as over-sensitive, psychologically unstable, victims of socially constructed guilt. Their experience is trivialised.”1

The book Giving Sorrow Words is available on loan from Action Life’s office. 1-Tankard Reist, Melinda. Giving Sorrow Words.Duffy and Snellgrove, 2000.pp.8 and9.