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What is PASS?

PASS is an acronym for Post Abortion Stress Syndrome. PASS is an unofficial name, because it is not officially recognized by the medical community yet. Some sections believe in PASS, others do not. Until enough studies have been done to confirm it's 'existence', the syndrome is still 'unofficial'. This does not mean it does not exist! For more details on PASS, and why it's not "officially recognized" yet, see the following sections:

After an abortion, how do you recover? How do you deal with the intense feelings of sadness and grief that some women feel? What do you do if you have even more serious complications after an abortion? You're not alone, and help is available! Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is the name for a condition that can affect women after an abortion. Not every woman who has an abortion is affected by it. Some women who have abortions feel peaceful about their decision beforehand, relieved afterwards, and then live the rest of their lives with no regrets. Other women may have a different experience, and may have a more difficult time recovering after an abortion. When a woman has an abortion, it's possible that the woman will have some normal feelings of grief, guilt and loss. If the feelings become severe, or persist for a long period of time, she may be suffering from Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS). "PASS" is different from 'normal feelings' of loss and depression immediately following an abortion. How is it different? When is it PASS and not just 'normal feelings'?
When the reactions and feelings in the first 3 months following an abortion are severe, causing such problems as:
  • Self-harm, strong suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Increase in dangerous and/or unhealthy activities (alcohol/drug abuse, anorexia/bulimia, compulsive over-eating, cutting, casual and indifferent sex and other inappropriate risk-taking behaviors)
  • Depression that is stronger than just 'a little sadness or the blues'
  • Inability to perform normal self-care activities
  • Inability to function normally in her job or in school
  • Inability to take care of or relate to her existing children or function normally in her other relationships (i.e. with a spouse, partner, other family member or friends)
  • A desire to immediately get pregnant and 'replace' the baby that was aborted, even when all the circumstances that led her to 'choose abortion' the first time are still in place.
So having a severe reaction immediately after an abortion can be classified as "PASS" and not just 'normal feelings'. What can also be described as PASS is when a woman has the problems listed above, and they continue after the abortion for months, and sometimes years.
Other PASS problems could include short and/or long term problems with:
  • emotions, and dealing with emotional issues
  • struggles with depression
  • continued suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • anxiety and panic disorder
  • addictions of all kinds
  • difficulty sleeping and sleeping problems
  • disturbing dreams and/or nightmares
  • problems with phobias, or increase in severity of existing phobias
  • eating disorders
  • "replacement baby" syndrome
  • repeated unplanned pregnancies with additional abortions
  • repeated unplanned pregnancies carried to term
  • "atonement marriage", where the woman marries the partner from the abortion, to help justify the abortion
  • trouble with relationships and dealing with partners
  • distress at the sight of other pregnant women, other people's babies and children
  • inability to deal with or socialize with other pregnant women, other people's babies and children
  • codependence and inability to make decisions easily
  • problems with severe and disproportionate anger
  • work and school problems (unable to function normally)
  • problems bonding with and caring for existing children or new babies
  • distress and problems with later pregnancy
  • added emotional issues and problems when dealing with future infertility or other physical complications resulting from the abortion.
  • unhealthy obsession with excelling at work or school, to justify the abortion
For more details about PASS, see: Some PASS problems can be severely disruptive to a woman's life, and PASS can trouble her for months and even years after her abortion. The good news is that women can recover from PASS, can learn to heal from their abortion, and can go on to have happy, healthy productive lives. Women are usually afraid or embarrassed to even admit to having an abortion, let alone talk to anyone else about problems she might be having. Women are encouraged to think it is 'their fault' if they have trouble after an abortion, and that the abortion itself had nothing to do with how she feels, and that PASS is just some 'anti-choice myth'.

It's interesting how if a man goes off to a war, and comes back with "PTSS" (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), we don't 'blame the man', and 'protect' the war, we admit it was the war that caused PTSS. We don't refuse to help the man, and belittle him or invalidate his pain by saying he had 'previous psychological problems', or other issues in his life that caused the PTSS, and we don't tell him that what he is struggling with "doesn't exist" - we admit it was the whole stress and experience of war, and we help him, support him, allow him a name for his experience and treat him to help him recover. Yet when a woman has an abortion, and is traumatized by the whole experience, and develops "PASS" (Post Abortion Stress Syndrome), people are quick to 'blame the woman', and "protect abortion", and claim there's no way the abortion could have caused this, the woman must have had pre-existing problems, and it's 'her fault' she is suffering. And the woman is left alone to suffer, with no help, treatment, support or a name for her experience. The fierce war between people who have differing views on the legality of abortion has turned into a war that is hurting women, as people go out of their way to minimize women's problems after an abortion, and "blame the woman" for any trouble she is having. I am in the middle with my views, as I believe that abortion should remain legal and safe, and that every woman has the right to make her own choices concerning her body and her life. However, people need to know that Post Abortion Stress Syndrome is a real medical issue, and can cause serious emotional or physical complications after an abortion.

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