As I write, we are entering the last month of the transitional season of autumn. When you read this, we will have begun the reflective season of winter. All of which makes our special topic for this issue appropriate and compelling. The time is right to begin the transition from an “us vs. them” stance on abortion to a new dialogue that goes beyond the black and white of pro-choice vs. pro-life. This will be a major undertaking and require deep reflection as well as open and honest communication. Because the issue of abortion is a reflection of the reality of conflicted pregnancies, we have chosen to approach the topic through this lens.
As many of you know, APPPAH conducted a survey of the membership on the topic of abortion this past summer. Results are still being tabulated and will be shared with you in an upcoming newsletter. Meanwhile, the JOPPPAH staff has been working with our colleagues in Europe to address this highly emotional topic in a special issue of JOPPPAH. As you will learn in these pages, our European colleagues have been working on this topic since 2005 to achieve some clarity for prenatal and perinatal psychology and approach some resolution to the inherent conflict between the sentience of the unborn and the very real issue of unplanned pregnancy.
Progress has been made in Germany toward moving the discussion from black and white (pro-life or pro-choice) to looking at the many factors involved in a conflicted pregnancy. My personal position is that of being both pro-choice (well-informed choice) and pro-life (with consideration given to the quality of life). In other words, I believe the decision to continue a pregnancy remains a very personal choice and should not be dictated by law. However, I do agree with our European colleagues that more counseling is needed for the parents prior to the finality of an abortion. I know some pro-choice advocates may see this as interference with the woman’s right to choose. However, the need to move toward a more complete understanding of the many shades of grey involved in this choice is compelling.
Rupert Linder, former president of the International Society of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine (ISPPM) and editor of the text, Love, Pregnancy, Conflict and Solution: Explorations of the Psychodynamics of the Pregnancy Conflict, has been our primary collaborator in bringing this issue to you. In our opening article, he delineates the history of the discussion regarding conflicted pregnancy in Europe, beginning in 2005 at an ISPPM congress, which resulted in the Charter of the Rights of the Child Before, During, and After Birth. That document then inspired a meeting in 2006 to delve more deeply into the essential and fundamental contradictions regarding the rights of women and the rights of the unborn. In the appendix to this article, you will find the document (called, “The Charter of the Rights of the Child Before, During, and After Birth”) that resulted from that 2005 meeting.
Next in this issue, you will find Ludwig Janus’s excellent article, “On the Psycho-History of Pregnancy Conflict”, tracing the changing attitudes toward abortion in Western Europe from the time when abortion was primarily a societal conflict to today, where pregnancy conflicts exist primarily within the woman.
Next we bring you an approach from Klaus Evertz to working with and treating conflicted pregnancy through a psychodynamic lens. This article presents Analytic-Aesthetic Arttherapy as introduced and practiced by Dr. Evertz and colleagues. This paper was originally presented at the 2006 conference mentioned above, with many more photographs used in that live presentation. While some of the photos may be deeply disturbing, they serve to shed light on the psychological issues that may be present and contribute to the pregnancy conflict.
Rupert Linder then brings us case studies from his own practice in gynecology and obstetrics, psychosomatics and psychotherapy. These case studies again highlight many different issues that may arise, resulting in a conflicted pregnancy.
Finally, in the Sharing Space, we welcome a deeply moving article from APPPAH’s own Marcy Axness. Marcy shares her deep knowledge of prenatal and perinatal psychology as related to unwanted pregnancies along with her personal journey as “someone whose own conception was an unintended surprise and who was carried in an ambivalent womb.”
Our hope is that this special issue will deepen the public conversation about abortion and bring us to a much deeper level of understanding of all that is involved. We invite your input through emails to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
or posted online in the comments section of the journal webpages. This section has been expanded to enable you to post comments on the entire issue and/or to each individual article (see instructions on the journal webpages). The editor will be notified of all comments posted. We also invite new article submissions to be considered for future issues of JOPPPAH – perhaps a history of abortion in America.
Also, let us know of any good books on this topic – we had hoped to review one for this issue, but were unsuccessful in finding one that was appropriate. In lieu of that, we do have an excellent review from our book review editor, Stephanie Dueger, of Ann Weinstein’s wonderful book, Prenatal Development and Parents’ Lived Experiences: How Early Events Shape Our Psychophysiology and Relationships, which by addressing the importance of experiences in the first nine months of life supports the vital discussion of conflicted pregnancy that this issue encourages.
We wish all of you a peaceful holiday season and anticipation of a coming year full of inviting possibilities for new depths of understanding.
Jeane Rhodes, PhD