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Women Health. 2012;52(1):88-100. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2011.643348.

Addressing the silence in the noise: how abortion support talklines meet some women's needs for non-political discussion of their experiences.

Author information

  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California-San Francisco, Oakland, CA 94612, USA. kimportk@obgyn.ucsf.edu

Abstract

Abortion is a frequent topic in political discourse, but few opportunities are available for women to discuss their complex emotions and experiences concerning abortion. Popular belief holds that many women need "counseling" about their decision to have an abortion, but little systematic after-abortion emotional care is available. The authors of this study conducted semi-structured interviews (N = 7) and focus groups (N = 2; 13 participants) with staff members and volunteer counselors at four abortion support talklines between February 2009 and March 2010 for their insights into the post-abortion needs of callers. The authors found evidence that some women needed a space devoid of politics for processing their experience and emotions over time. Talklines begin to meet these needs, especially the episodic processing needs of women experiencing emotional difficulty at any time after an abortion. However, some mental health needs are still unmet, including those among women experiencing emotional difficulty due to preexisting conditions co-occurring with, but not caused by, the abortion. The authors of this study call for integrating after-abortion emotional support more fully into the work of abortion provision and women's mental health advocates. The authors warn against using these findings to support legal mandates for post-abortion support, highlighting the negative consequences of such mandates in the pre-abortion arena.

PMID:
22324360
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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