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Trauma Amid Roe v. Wade Despair


This blog post was first published on Ellen’s Interprofessional Insights, and appears with permission.

     Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and like many, I’m devastated. There will be mass impact of this decision across systems and sectors for generations to come. As I pondered a unique way to approach this blog post, one chronic theme came to mind. Amid my concern for all populations, lies the intersection of this decision’s havoc with every iteration of trauma.

Here are the facts: There is Pervasive Trauma

  • Vulnerable and marginalized populations live with rampant access to care obstacles; historical, experiential, and medical trauma are embedded within in the DNA of each person. 
  • The Turnaway Study released last Spring revealed stark facts of trauma’s wrath for women denied an abortion.
    • They are 4X as likely to end up living in poverty, stay with abusive partners, suffer from poor physical and mental health, plus have decreased aspirations.
  • Collective Occupational Trauma for practitioners will further escalate as they reconcile:

There Will be More Trauma to Come

We can also expect:

  • Thousands of unplanned births and the potential for increased maternal morbidity and mortality; There will be trauma.
  • Increased mental health challenges for persons dealing with unwanted pregnancies;There will be trauma.
  • High rates of suicidal ideation, gestures, and action for victims of rape, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence who are forced to carry a pregnancy to full-term; There will be trauma.
  • A ripple effect for college-aged students facing an unwanted pregnancy, and forced to raise children on college campuses, delay, or give up hopes of earning a degree; There will be trauma.
  • Persons with chronic conditions, medical, psychiatric, and intellectual disabilities often face often life-threatening conditions when forced to maintain a pregnancy. “Abortion restrictions do not only endanger people who don’t wish to be pregnant. Many people who want biological children have conditions that put them at higher risk of adverse outcomes and miscarriages…this poses clear psychological risks, as well as physical ones”; There will be trauma
  • A rise in adverse childhood experiences scores for children born of unintended pregnancies, and for persons exposed to adverse life experiences; There will be trauma.
  • Threats to other rights and freedoms of ALL vulnerable and marginalized populations across the diversity, equity and cultural inclusion landscape; There will be trauma.

Moving Forward

     Many associations and entities have already published position statements opposing the overturning of Roe V. Wade. This list of resources will fuel your advocacy energies:


Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Trauma-informed Policy and Practice

Guttmacher Institute

Human Rights Campaign

International Partners for Reproductive Justice (Ipas)

Keep Our Clinics

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Abortion Federation

National Black Women’s Reproductive Agenda

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice

National Network of Abortion Funds

PACEs Connection

Planned Parenthood

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN)

Women Have Options

     There are other countless other resources, and I invite all to add resources to this list. In the meantime, seek support by reaching out to each other: family, friends, colleagues, and counseling. Stay fierce, advocate, and ensure appropriate care for those in need. There will be ongoing emotions to reconcile as society contends with the new reality. We must be ready to ensure necessary health and mental health intervention, and for every person. After all, There will be trauma.

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What I do not hear in this discussion is how to decrease the rates of unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.

Meantime, people will still procreate, some prolifically even, regardless of their questionable ability to raise their children in a psychologically functional/healthy manner. Thus I wonder how much immense long-term suffering might have been prevented had the parent(s) of a future tyrant received, as high school students, some crucial child development science education by way of mandatory curriculum?

After all, dysfunctional and/or abusive parents, for example, may not have had the chance to be anything else due to their lack of such education and their own dysfunctional/abusive rearing as children.

As a liberal-democracy society, we cannot prevent anyone from bearing children, including those who insist upon procreating regardless of their inability to raise children in a psychologically functional/healthy manner. We can, however, educate all young people for the most important job ever, even those high-schoolers who plan to remain childless.

If nothing else, such curriculum could offer students an idea/clue as to whether they’re emotionally suited for the immense responsibility and strains of parenthood. 

Yet, owing to the Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard mindset, the prevailing collective attitude (implicit or subconscious) basically follows: ‘Why should I care — my kids are alright?’ or ‘What is in it for me, the taxpayer, if I support programs for other people’s troubled families?’ While some people will justify it as a normal thus moral human evolutionary function, the self-serving OIIIMOBY can debilitate social progress, even when social progress is most needed. 

As for abortion services, they, along with critical health services and long-term-care residences, should never be a for-profit medical procedure. …

Now, if only as much concern was given to the already born and breathing as is given the unborn, some real progress could be made.

Thanks for a good article Ellen and to Carey for an insightful comment too. I am devastated over these past few days. And still find myself unable to think clearly.  Like a trauma it has stolen my ability to keep a focus.  My loss of trust in people, in America, in those we put in charge of the best interests of all of US feels irreparable at the moment.  All of these are trauma  affects for sure.  What keeps rolling around like a boulder in a glass house for me is that the abusers are among US.  They still live, breath, and walk among US and there is no protection from the abuse to be had it seems and feels.  These people are in full force and now that they have had a taste of blood  --they are in a frenzy!    No matter how much I want to move from this atrocity that denies and eradicates a decade (and more) of freedom, equality, equity, and recognition of/for women in this Country I slip into the anger, the sadness, the disgust, and the disempowerment of it all.  These abusers live among US and the abusers managed to install their own ilk into places that have the power to grant rights and also to take them away whenever it fits for their agenda.  Given what has happened and seeing political party platforms and planks thereof, it is a wonder why anyone could support, let alone vote for a Republican. But, there you have it.  The abusers are all around US and living in our communities and they are not about to change anything about their values and beliefs that accord them to continue the abuse and continue the trauma on all of US.  I agree, there will be trauma and it is at the hands of Republicans and those who support them and their agendas...Get out and VOTE! for sure if you can jump through all the hoops and obstructions that Republicans have laid in the way to secure their place and power among US.  And be sure you know the abusers from the victims because there's a lotta double speak, smoke and mirrors, and clever lies out there. And it's what abusers count on and use to win and it preserves their right to continue the abuse whenever, to whomever they think is not morally pure enough to have a right to any sort of freedom. It all really makes me sick!

Thank you, Ellen, for tying the trauma of women losing rights to the host of ripple-effect traumas to come. It is important, too, for all of us to share and add to the list of resources, and to practice, as you recommend, staying connected and talking about our anger and frustrations.

I feel a sense of grief and loss. Then there is rage against old White men who think they know best, and even greater rage for women who voted against our collective best interests again and again, selling us out to continued “less-than” status in myriad ways.

I am a White woman of a certain age, who remembers a lot about how things used to be in the South with segregation. This is all related. The desire of White Christian nationalists to take us back to the 1950s. The desire to dominate the bodies of women and people of color. When I was a teen in the 1960s and 70s, there was hatred expressed from White classmates who resented anyone working for racial equality, calling out the town’s biggest employer for environmental assaults, and calling people out for using racial slurs — making those “micro aggressions” — that so grind away at BIPOC people, harming then, their children, their grandchildren and on and on.

The reality that we are going backward is very sad indeed. That world leaders are stunned by this ruling makes absolute sense: it seems “unAmerican.”

Wrapping up this comment, I’ll add is yet another important action step to this post’s requests: Please ask everyone you know if they are registered to vote in the November elections, and if they are not, encourage them to register,  or help them to do so. And then help people get to the polls November 8. We need an uprising that is reflected in a giant wave of support for candidates who are pro-choice, anti-gun, for a Just Society.

Carey Sipp

Paces Connection

Last edited by Carey Sipp (PACEs Connection Staff)
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