NRL News

“Dear Abby” and abortion

by | Feb 13, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

 Jeanne Phillips, left, took over the column from her mother Pauline in 2002.

Jeanne Phillips, left, took over the column from her mother Pauline in 2002.

Until late yesterday, I’d not read “Dear Abby” since the last time someone forwarded me a column with her advice on abortion. It’s been so long I can’t remember if came from the original “Dear Abby” (the late Pauline Phillips) or after her daughter, Jeanne, assumed the nom de plume (and the column) in 2002.

In a column that ran Tuesday, a boyfriend wrote that he’d just found out that his girlfriend of nearly four years had an abortion when she was in high school. He explained that he’d overheard a conversation after which he inquired about the implication–that she’d had an abortion.

“She proceeded to tell me what had happened and then said, ‘I never told you that?’” He then remarks, “My reaction is feelings of disgust, betrayal and of having been lied to. Am I overreacting?”

Abby takes the tact that if they had agreed to tell everything about their past, then the omission was deliberate. “If not, she was under no obligation to reveal that she had terminated a pregnancy.” What’s especially interesting is Abby’s concluding commentary.

“Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for women. Ultimately, I am told, most women feel a sense of relief after an abortion. However, many do not feel that it is something to celebrate and may not be comfortable sharing that they have had one.”

What can be said? We can’t know what the boyfriend was really thinking, obviously. Were his feelings primarily because she hadn’t told him about the abortion; because he sensed that the abortion was so inconsequential to her that it hadn’t occurred to her to tell him; or because having the abortion was anathema to him—or some combination of the three?

If I remember the typical “Dear Abby” reaction accurately, this is less than the solidly high-fives to the wonderfulness of abortion from years past. Abby’s first impression answer reminds us that most people do not know (how would they know?) that while a sense of relief may come first, this often changes as the woman moves from being glad the “problem” has been solved to understanding that the child’s death resolved nothing.

Moreover, without rehearing all the studies we’ve written about at NRL News Today, we know that as compared to women who have not aborted, those who have experienced an abortion have higher rates of anxiety, depression, alcohol use/misuse, marijuana use, and suicidal behavior. (See, for example, And that doesn’t address the separate issue of having a higher incidence of breast cancer.

Abby’s last statement is important in ways she probably can’t know: “However, many do not feel that [having an abortion] is something to celebrate and may not be comfortable sharing that they have had one.”

It is this fixture, this truth about abortion that the most militant pro-abortionists are determined to root out, as if human nature is mere putty in their hands. They believe the more women talk about their abortion affirmatively, the less “stigma” there will be attached and as a result the moral high ground on which pro-lifers stand can be overrun.

Not so. Women regret their abortions not because others will not “affirm”  their decision, but because they cannot!

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Categories: Abortion