Mental health awareness means putting people ahead of stigma

Mental health awareness means putting people ahead of stigma

Abortion stigmas often get in the way of providing compassionate, safe spaces for healing.

Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist and social worker, released the following statement at the end of National Mental Health Awareness Month:

President Joe Biden launched National Mental Health Awareness Month with a reminder that “we all have a role to play in ending the stigma around mental health.” For those without mental health challenges, he correctly said their role “starts by showing compassion, so everyone feels free to ask for help.”

America has come a long way on mental health since the first Awareness Month in 1949. Unfortunately, some mental health challenges are still stigmatized, which is why the estimated 22 million Americans who struggle after abortion are often ignored because abortion is portrayed as a political or religious debate.

Support After Abortion’s research shows that 34% of women who experience a medication abortion and 71% of men whose partners or ex-partners experienced any abortion suffer adverse impacts. And over 80% of women and men have no idea where to look for emotional and psychological support. It’s no wonder that they often suffer for years in silence.

Our After Abortion Help Line and After Abortion Referral Directory were created to be a pathway to improved mental health. Our therapist, counselor, and other referral partners focus on the humans in front of them, using best practices from the Academy of Certified Social Workers, Support After Abortion’s research, and other resources.

For almost 20 years, I’ve worked with underserved communities facing mental health crises. I first helped teenage girls and their families; then girls and women escaping sex trafficking, and women facing unintended pregnancies. Today, I work with women and men who are facing emotional and psychological challenges after one or more abortions.

Each of these people deserves compassion for their struggles and the freedom to ask for help, even if it challenges the rest of us to go outside of our comfort zone.

New study: 78% of pro-choice men desire help after abortion

New study: 78% of pro-choice men desire help after abortion

Media Contact:
Dustin Siggins
media@supportafterabortion.com

71% of all men suffer adverse mental health effects after a partner’s abortion

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA—A newly-released study found that 78% of men who identify as “pro-choice” struggle after losing a child to abortion, and that abortion caused 71% of all men to suffer adverse mental health impacts.

The study was commissioned by Support After Abortion, which provides research-based training to mental health professionals and lay counselors. It found that adverse effects—such as depression, sadness, guilt, anger, and substance abuse—often last for years.

“Our culture tends to portray abortion solely as a women’s issue, but this study shows the real impact abortion has on men—which then creates more negative effects for women,” said Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed therapist and social worker. “Men suffer when they experience abortion, regardless of personal beliefs about the issue. This can hurt their relationships with the people around them, including sexual and romantic partners.”

Greg Mayo, who chairs Support After Abortion’s National Men’s Task Force, said some of the study’s findings suggest that men are disenfranchised. “Forty-five percent of men said they had no voice or choice in the abortion decision, and 57% of men weren’t part of the decision,” said Mayo. “This matches my experience—I lost two children to abortion, and both times I was told the decision wasn’t mine. Later, even a therapist dismissed my pain as irrelevant.”

Support After Abortion commissioned the study as part of its research on the experiences of women and men after abortion. The majority of after-abortion healing options are religious and in-person, but over half of men said they rarely or never attend church, and 77% said they preferred options that would protect their anonymity.

“Most after-abortion healing programs are one-size-fits-all,” continued Rowe. “But the best healing happens when clients are provided programs that meet them where they are.”

The nationally representative study’s methodology, sample size, and full set of questions are here. A related white paper authored by Mayo on men’s after-abortion suffering is here.

About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion provides gold-standard research and education that promote compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create high-quality care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts. Its free resources include an After Abortion Help Line, a national therapist and counseling directory, and an introductory abortion healing program.

UPDATE on 5/9/23: This article has been updated to reflect corrections about the percentage of pro-choice men who struggle after abortion. Support After Abortion regrets the errors.
Medication abortion is changing women’s abortion experiences

Medication abortion is changing women’s abortion experiences

Media Contact:
Dustin Siggins
media@supportafterabortion.com

Medication abortion is changing women’s abortion experiences

Women report pain, isolation, and shock when experiencing abortions at home

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA—Support After Abortion, which provides research-based training to licensed therapists and lay counselors, says a recent surge in medication abortions means that the mental health community must change how it helps women suffering after abortion.

“During surgical abortions, women are anesthetized, the abortion is fast, and their experience is validated by the people around them in real time,” said Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, a licensed mental health therapist. “Women who experience medication abortions tell our After Abortion Help Line that they experience significant pain, have little or no help, and are horrified when seeing their baby for the first time.”

“That’s why women who seek our services have changed from older, white, and religious to young, diverse, and secular,” continued Rowe. “They have trauma and grief that need healing now.”

=Many mental health programs don’t address after-abortion care. Others use one-size-fits-all methods, including:

  • Faith-based programs which focus on in-person group gatherings, Scripture, and short-term programs.
  • Programs which only affirm abortions.
  • Social workers who do not ask about or seek to address pregnancy loss.
  • Therapists whose after-abortion care does not address pre-abortion traumas.

For six years, Support After Abortion has provided research-based after-abortion training to hundreds of therapists and counselors, and connected thousands of women and men to individualized healing resources. Its best practices include providing healing options which are tailored to clients’ needs – ranging from secular to religious, in-person and virtual, and anonymous to group settings.

“One in three women suffer negative mental health issues like grief and depression after a medication abortion, and most of them don’t know where to seek healing,” concluded Rowe. “We are urging the entire mental health community – churches that provide after-abortion healing, social workers and therapists who help families through pregnancy loss, and abortion centers like Northland Family Planning which acknowledge after-abortion suffering and grief – to treat women where they are, not where we wish they are,” said Rowe. “We can most effectively help women become their best selves if we diversify our approaches to helping them heal.”

About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion provides gold-standard research and education which promote compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts. Its free resources include an After Abortion Help Line, a national therapist and counseling directory, and an introductory abortion healing program

Woman’s viral TikTok video shows reality of after-abortion suffering

Woman’s viral TikTok video shows reality of after-abortion suffering

A woman’s story of after-abortion suffering has gone viral on TikTok with almost 200,000 views since Friday. The story has evoked many similar stories of suffering in comments below the video.

Support After Abortion Special Projects Manager Karin Barbito, who experienced an abortion as a teenager, has released the following statement in support of women who feel that their after-abortion pain is unrecognized:

This woman’s pain and regret  mirror my own. Abortion was supposed to fix my problem and be fast, easy, and painless. What happened instead were depression, suicidal thoughts, and years of emotional pain…and the relationship I wanted to save ended as soon as the abortion was complete.

This video has gone viral for a reason: Women’s painful stories about abortion aren’t widely reported, but they are real. They are common. And they can’t be solved by pretending that women only shout their abortions. 

After-abortion healing takes time. It takes being offered the right approach that works for each woman’s preference and individual stage of healing. But most importantly, it takes being given a safe space to sort through your emotions, grieve your loss, and find closure.

For me, healing took place in my fifties. I didn’t know what healing was, but it has led me to consider how childhood issues led to codependency, which led to unhealthy relationships, which led to the abortion. Since then, I’ve gone through several healing options because like any other deeply-seated issue, after-abortion healing is a journey, not a destination. 

This woman’s story, and the ones below her video, are everyday realities. This video should continue to go viral so that women know that their pain is real – and every woman suffering from after-abortion emotional and mental pain should also know that Support After Abortion is here to help.

Contact us through our After Abortion Help Line for healing options which meet you where you are, and give you the safe space you need.

Support After Abortion: lawmakers must prioritize mental health in new legislative sessions 

Support After Abortion: lawmakers must prioritize mental health in new legislative sessions 

Media Contact:
Dustin Siggins
media@supportafterabortion.com

“It’s time to make safe spaces for after-abortion healing,” said CEO Lisa Rowe

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA—As the first post-Dobbs legislative sessions begin, Support After Abortion is urging lawmakers to recognize the reality of after-abortion suffering.

“The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision changed America’s abortion debate. As most attention pivots to the states, this is an opportunity for everyone to expand how they think about abortion,” said Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe. “Pro-life advocates have long believed in after-abortion suffering – but their religious-based approach alienates millions of people. And supporters of legalized abortion often fail to acknowledge that many women aren’t shouting their abortion – but instead are hiding their suffering.”

Founded in 2020, Support After Abortion is the nation’s first organization to provide gold-standard research and support for women and men after abortion. Unaffiliated with the pro-life movement and the abortion industry, but partnering with both, Support After Abortion’s groundbreaking national surveys show that:

  • 34% of women who experience medication abortions suffer adverse impacts.
  • Only 16% of women who experience medication abortions want religious support.
  • 71% of men suffer adverse effects like depression, addiction, and anger.
  • Just 18% of women and men know that after-abortion support exists.

“Each year, America spends billions of dollars on mental health research, prevention, and recovery,” said Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with families facing abuse, addiction, and other challenges. “Our research shows that millions of women and men suffer from after-abortion healing, but they don’t get the resources they need because the politics of abortion hide the humans behind abortion.”

Support After Abortion’s mission is to elevate abortion healing in the eyes of all Americans. Its work includes:

  • An after-abortion help line which refers people to healing resources, including licensed therapists. 
  • The first after-abortion directory for men and women to independently find healing resources. 
  • Nationally representative surveys to capture how many women and men suffer after abortion – and what can help them heal.
  • Workshops and webinars which have helped therapists, pregnancy resource centers, and social workers understand how to address after-abortion suffering.

About Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion is an abortion healing organization which promotes compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts. 

Social workers will bear brunt of at-home abortion increase

Social workers will bear brunt of at-home abortion increase

This weekend, Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe, LCSW, showed social workers how to navigate challenges associated with helping women who have experienced at-home abortions.

Rowe told attendees of the 2022 North American Christian Social Workers (NACSW) conference that at-home abortions are becoming more prevalent and, based upon recent research, cause significant distress to about one-third of women.

“Support After Abortion’s national study makes clear that medication abortions will increase the burdens on social workers,” said Rowe after the conference. “One in three women suffer adverse impacts from medication abortions; but fewer than one in five women even know that help for those adverse impacts exists. Identifying and addressing these traumas will, as it often does with other traumas, fall on social workers.”

Rowe’s one-hour presentation included a key process change for social workers. She noted that since most women keep medication abortions very private, asking about any child loss and then listing various losses – such as miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoptions, and abortion – will provide the opportunity for women to open up in a psychologically secure way. She also provided Support After Abortion’s research-based language best practices to help women feel safe in sharing their abortion experiences.

The NACSW conference helps Christian social workers apply their faith to the practical realities of helping homes which are often struggling through brokenness. Rowe said that her presentation was designed to enable social workers to better serve as the front lines of helping women, men, and families find healing after traumas.

“Social workers are almost always under-resourced and overburdened with heart-breaking and difficult duties,” said Rowe. “I was honored to help them be better prepared for this important vocation by sharing how to help the real people suffering after abortion.”

About Support After AbortionSupport After Abortion is an abortion healing organization which promotes compassion, collaboration, and capacity to create gold-standard care for men and women suffering from abortion’s adverse impacts.