Who could have predicted that attitudes toward induced abortion would play a major role in the election of the President of the most powerful nation on earth? The nomination of appointees for public office rises and falls on their history of performing or being otherwise involved with abortions. Abortion has become a lightning rod, an icon for clashing social and political agendas. This most common, ineradicable procedure, routine in professional settings and life-threatening in others, has come to stand for the wanton disregard and destruction of human life, the liberation of women from reproductive bondage, the defense of the innocent, and the restoration of traditional roles and values. There are concerted efforts by antiabortion organizations to disseminate misinformation, especially about the psychosocial aspects of abortion. This article addresses the definition, history, cultural context, the emotional and psychiatric sequelae of abortion, as well as the clinical application of knowledge about the psychosocial aspects of abortion.
Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Substance Abuse Services, Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
Correspondence: Nada L. Stotland, MD, 5511 South Kenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637-1713.