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Soc Sci Med. 2014 Feb;102:18-25. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.11.030. Epub 2013 Nov 23.

The spread of 'Post Abortion Syndrome' as social diagnosis.

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Mississippi State University, PO Box C, Mississippi State, MS 39762, United States. Electronic address:


This paper examines the content of Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) claims, the social actors involved and how this social diagnosis bypassed professional dissent and diffused into public policy in the United States. Previous works on the spread of PAS focus on almost exclusively on anti-abortion think tanks and policymakers. Missing from these analyses, however, is an emphasis on the grassroots-level actions undertaken by evangelical crisis pregnancy center (CPC) activists in introducing and circulating PAS claims. The CPC movement introduced PAS claims and provided the fodder for anti-abortion think tanks to construct evidence of pro-life claims. Despite dissent from health professionals and academic researchers, CPC PAS claims successfully diffused into federal and state abortion policy. I draw upon Brown et al.'s social diagnosis framework and Armstrong's five-stage model of diagnosis development to frame this account.


Abortion; Crisis pregnancy centers; Diagnosis; Gender; Post Abortion Syndrome; Post traumatic stress disorder; United States

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