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October, 1993
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Current estimates are that one in every five women in the United States will have undergone at least one abortion, with 1.4 million abortions occurring annually. Increasingly, long-term stress reactions to abortion have been documented in the research literature. Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS), a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, occurs in women who experience their abortions as traumatic. When the emotional components of the abortion experience are repressed, as in PAS, impacted grief and complicated mourning result. Diagnosis and treatment strategies are discussed, as well as the societal dynamics that have slowed recognition of this disorder.


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Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. and Vincent Rue, Ph.D.

Anne C. Speckhard is in private clinical, research, and consulting practice in Alexandria, Virginia. She has consulted on various postpartum-stress research projects and has conducted many training workshops for mental health and medical professionals on the topic of diagnosing and treating post abortion stress. Dr. Speckhard is the author of two books on the subject and coauthor of "Post Abortion Syndrome: An Emerging Public Health Concern" published in 1992 in the Journal of Social Issues. She served as a Public Health Service Fellow in the Office of Population Affairs at DHHS and has testified on the subject of Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS) before a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Vincent M. Rue is currently Co-Director with Susan Stanford-Rue of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is a nonprofit intensive-treatment center, a clearinghouse for information, and a clinical training and research center for Traumatic Pregnancy Loss Experiences including Post Abortion Syndrome. He has been a practicing psychotherapist for seventeen years and has served as a consultant to DHHS and the Office of the Surgeon General. Dr. Rue is coauthor of the paper "Post Abortion Syndrome: An Emerging Public Health Concern" recently published in the Journal of Social Issues.

Address correspondence to Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., Family Systems Center, 4009 David Lane, Alexandria, VA 22311.