Are you concerned about the end of Roe vs. wade? Experts discuss implications for mental health

The reversal of the most significant reproductive rights ruling in US history has seen Roe vs. Wade supporters to grapple with what’s next.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans are in favor of legal abortions in most cases, according to repeated polls. 61% say abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

As of Friday, eight states have banned abortion and about a dozen are considering following suit.

Many terrifying questions remain, including not only how accessible abortion will remain outside the blue states, but also what precedent for civil rights the Supreme Court could set aside next.

The Times spoke with three people who specialize in mental health and its relationship with abortion about ways to break the news of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and what the implications for mental health may be. Their written responses are arranged below, edited for brevity.

  • Rachel Dyer, chairman of the board for Exhale Pro-Voice, a nonprofit organization that provides post-abortion support.
  • Cynthia Cerrato, a holistic marriage and family therapist in LA County, who specializes in treating maternal mental health issues, among other things.
  • Claudia Parada, a marriage and family therapist who specializes in treating multiple components of people’s identity, including race, sexuality, and parenting decisions.

Q: What should people understand about the mental health impacts after the overthrow of Roe vs. wade?

dyer: “We know from scientific research that barriers to seeking an abortion, such as having to travel to another state, delaying care to save for the abortion itself (as well as childcare, a hotel, food, gas, taking time off work, etc.) ), is associated with more emotional stress. With the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, we can expect this kind of emotional distress to have a greater impact on more people, as states now have the power to pass laws that make abortions illegal.

Again, we know from scientific research that if you need and don’t have access to an abortion, your mental health will suffer, as will your physical, relationship and financial health.

Finally, the literal existence of this Dobbs decision is emotionally damaging because it perpetuates the stigma against abortion. We know that abortions themselves do not cause emotional distress; abortion stigma does, and that stigma, at the level of our institutions and government, is only going to get worse. This not only harms the emotional well-being of people who need an abortion in the future, but also those who have already had an abortion.”

Closed: “What I want the community to understand about the mental health implications of this decision are the natural reactions and feelings we will experience. Normalizing and validating these feelings and behaviors will be vital to our collective healing process during this time.

The first thing I feel that will experience the most is fear. Fear of what’s to come. For example, I’ve already heard people worrying about whether gay marriage will be annulled soon. Anger and a tremendous amount of fear are other feelings that most of us will experience as a result of our uncertain future.

I worry that most of us share a common sentiment, myself included, which is a sense that a historic regression awaits us.”

Stop: “The impact of this decision will touch the lives of every generation in this lifetime and many generations to come.

The long-term adverse effects of internalizing this message are that women and those with wombs may think they don’t deserve that freedom of choice or power. As a Latinx woman, I see this internalization in older women in my family who feel that we should not have the right to choose how and when we are born because they are conditioned to trust the “experts” to dictate what it is. best for their health in all areas – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.

Sources

For those seeking mental health support for abortion services

Q: What kinds of challenges and experiences have you heard from your patients before and after the tilt?

dyer: †[At Exhale Pro-Voice]we have seen a significant increase in our use of text lines since September 1, 2021, when Texas SB8 went into effect [effectively banning abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy]† We saw another surge in December 2021, after the oral arguments of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

I’m writing this just hours after the Dobbs decision was made, so I can’t say exactly what people who contacted our text said, but we expect greater consequences of stigma, such as secrecy and isolation for fear of judgment and banishment; increased stress associated with access to abortions, including fear of legal repercussions; and general increased distress due to the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade.”

Closed: “The challenges and experiences my clients experienced before and after the fall of Roe vs. Wade are the same feelings they’ve been feeling for the past two to three years. These are feelings of hopelessness and a sense of despair.

Most of my clients have a common coping mechanism that, while we know it’s not healthy, is protective to some degree. That coping mechanism is a sense of numbness, the feeling as if they are distancing themselves from all the recent traumatic events that we have experienced individually and collectively (COVID, the Uvalde mass shooting in Texas, etc.).

Most of my clients have also expressed a sense of anger mixed with helplessness. Outraged at the impact of white supremacy and a patriarchal society on our communities and helplessness, feeling they can do nothing to change our current climate. Most of my clients also experience a feeling of ‘Are we ever going to take a break?’”

Stop: “It is not normal for power and autonomy to be taken from you and your body. Many people felt dissociated, lost and overwhelmed. Especially as many workplaces do not create safe spaces to discuss the impact of this decision and often people are asked to get on with their lives, business as usual.”

Q: What are some ways to break the news of the Supreme Court decision to rule Roe vs. Wade to undo, to process in a healthy way?

dyer: “Processing the news that Roe v. Wade has been destroyed will look different for everyone. First, I would encourage people to slow down or pause and check in with themselves. What do they feel? What do they need? Have they had enough water today? Are they spending hours scrolling through their Twitter feeds, reading news and hottakes? Being gentle with yourself, meeting your basic needs and doing things that make you happy are essential.”

Closed: “Finding a safe place such as a therapist, community group or wellness collective, seeking spiritual guidance, participating in rituals, and healthy activities are great ways to spread the word about the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade to process. It’s also important to point out that processing doesn’t always have to be verbal. Spending time in nature is always medicinal, as is exercise. Not only is it grounding, but it also boosts our serotonin levels, which helps increase hope. Moments of silence are also a healthy exercise that increases our ability to hold space for our feelings and thoughts.

Most importantly, what I want the community to remember is that in order to remain hopeful and active in creating change, we must continue to center and prioritize our joy, even in an uncertain chaotic world.”

Stop: “Healthy coping techniques should not and do not serve to adapt the individual to a broken system. There are many histories of resilience, resistance and power among our communities of women, transgender and non-binary people, blacks, indigenous and people of color who have generations of body wisdom and we must remember to lean towards each other to care for the whole person . Even when the reality is bleak, we have knowledge of healing in our history and in our community.”

Q: How do you approach or discuss this topic with relatives who hold opposing views?

dyer: “Talking about abortions with friends and family who may have opposing views poses different risks for different people. First, I would like to ask people to think about the difference between feeling uncomfortable and feeling unsafe. Many of us confuse the two, and that keeps us from having conversations that are uncomfortable, but generally safe.

Of course, if you are a young person, living with people who hold these opposing views, or have other circumstances where your safety could be compromised, you could make different decisions.”

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from The Times’ Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids decision-making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles – including current Times subscribers and various communities that have not met their needs through our coverage in the past.

How can we be useful to you and your community? Email Utility (at) latimes.com or one of our journalists: Matt Ballinger, Jon Healey, Ada Tseng, Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia.

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Are you concerned about the end of Roe vs. wade? Experts discuss implications for mental health

The reversal of the most significant reproductive rights ruling in US history has seen Roe vs. Wade supporters to grapple with what’s next.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans support legal abortions, according to repeated polls. 61% say abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

As of Friday, eight states have banned abortion and about a dozen are considering following suit.

Many terrifying questions remain, including not only how accessible abortion will remain outside the blue states, but also what precedent for civil rights the Supreme Court could set aside next.

The Times spoke with three people who specialize in mental health and its relationship with abortion about ways to break the news of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and what the implications for mental health may be. Their written responses are arranged below, edited for brevity.

  • Rachel Dyer, chairman of the board for Exhale Pro-Voice, a nonprofit organization that provides post-abortion support.
  • Cynthia Cerrato, a holistic marriage and family therapist in LA County, who specializes in treating maternal mental health issues, among other things.
  • Claudia Parada, a marriage and family therapist who specializes in treating multiple components of people’s identity, including race, sexuality, and parenting decisions.

Q: What should people understand about the mental health impacts after the overthrow of Roe vs. wade?

dyer: “We know from scientific research that barriers to seeking an abortion, such as having to travel to another state, delaying care to save for the abortion itself (as well as childcare, a hotel, food, gas, taking time off work, etc.) ), is associated with more emotional stress. With the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, we can expect this kind of emotional distress to have a greater impact on more people, as states now have the power to pass laws that make abortions illegal.

Again, we know from scientific research that if you need and don’t have access to an abortion, your mental health will suffer, as will your physical, relationship and financial health.

Finally, the literal existence of this Dobbs decision is emotionally damaging because it perpetuates the stigma against abortion. We know that abortions themselves do not cause emotional distress; abortion stigma does, and that stigma, at the level of our institutions and government, is only going to get worse. This not only harms the emotional well-being of people who need an abortion in the future, but also those who have already had an abortion.”

Closed: “What I want the community to understand about the mental health implications of this decision are the natural reactions and feelings we will experience. Normalizing and validating these feelings and behaviors will be vital to our collective healing process during this time.

The first thing I feel that will experience the most is fear. Fear of what’s to come. For example, I’ve already heard people worrying about whether gay marriage will be annulled soon. Anger and a tremendous amount of fear are other feelings that most of us will experience as a result of our uncertain future.

I worry that most of us share a common sentiment, myself included, which is a sense that a historic regression awaits us.”

Stop: “The impact of this decision will touch the lives of every generation in this lifetime and many generations to come.

The long-term adverse effects of internalizing this message are that women and those with wombs may think they don’t deserve that freedom of choice or power. As a Latinx woman, I see this internalization in older women in my family who feel that we should not have the right to choose how and when we are born because they are conditioned to trust the “experts” to dictate what it is. best for their health in all areas – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.

Sources

For those seeking mental health support for abortion services

Q: What kinds of challenges and experiences have you heard from your patients before and after the tilt?

dyer: †[At Exhale Pro-Voice]we have seen a significant increase in our use of text lines since September 1, 2021, when Texas SB8 went into effect [effectively banning abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy]† We saw another surge in December 2021, after the oral arguments of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

I’m writing this just hours after the Dobbs decision was made, so I can’t say exactly what people who contacted our text said, but we expect greater consequences of stigma, such as secrecy and isolation for fear of judgment and banishment; increased stress associated with access to abortions, including fear of legal repercussions; and general increased distress due to the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade.”

Closed: “The challenges and experiences my clients experienced before and after the fall of Roe vs. Wade are the same feelings they’ve been feeling for the past two to three years. These are feelings of hopelessness and a sense of despair.

Most of my clients have a common coping mechanism that, while we know it’s not healthy, is protective to some degree. That coping mechanism is a sense of numbness, the feeling as if they are distancing themselves from all the recent traumatic events that we have experienced individually and collectively (COVID, the Uvalde mass shooting in Texas, etc.).

Most of my clients have also expressed a sense of anger mixed with helplessness. Outraged at the impact of white supremacy and a patriarchal society on our communities and helplessness, feeling they can do nothing to change our current climate. Most of my clients also experience a feeling of ‘Are we ever going to take a break?’”

Stop: “It is not normal for power and autonomy to be taken from you and your body. Many people felt dissociated, lost and overwhelmed. Especially as many workplaces do not create safe spaces to discuss the impact of this decision and often people are asked to get on with their lives, business as usual.”

Q: What are some ways to break the news of the Supreme Court decision to rule Roe vs. Wade to undo, to process in a healthy way?

dyer: “Processing the news that Roe v. Wade has been destroyed will look different for everyone. First, I would encourage people to slow down or pause and check in with themselves. What do they feel? What do they need? Have they had enough water today? Are they spending hours scrolling through their Twitter feeds, reading news and hottakes? Being gentle with yourself, meeting your basic needs and doing things that make you happy are essential.”

Closed: “Finding a safe place such as a therapist, community group or wellness collective, seeking spiritual guidance, participating in rituals, and healthy activities are great ways to spread the word about the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade to process. It’s also important to point out that processing doesn’t always have to be verbal. Spending time in nature is always medicinal, as is exercise. Not only is it grounding, but it also boosts our serotonin levels, which helps increase hope. Moments of silence are also a healthy exercise that increases our ability to hold space for our feelings and thoughts.

Most importantly, what I want the community to remember is that in order to remain hopeful and active in creating change, we must continue to center and prioritize our joy, even in an uncertain chaotic world.”

Stop: “Healthy coping techniques should not and do not serve to adapt the individual to a broken system. There are many histories of resilience, resistance and power among our communities of women, transgender and non-binary people, blacks, indigenous and people of color who have generations of body wisdom and we must remember to lean towards each other to care for the whole person . Even when the reality is bleak, we have knowledge of healing in our history and in our community.”

Q: How do you approach or discuss this topic with relatives who hold opposing views?

dyer: “Talking about abortions with friends and family who may have opposing views poses different risks for different people. First, I would like to ask people to think about the difference between feeling uncomfortable and feeling unsafe. Many of us confuse the two, and that keeps us from having conversations that are uncomfortable, but generally safe.

Of course, if you are a young person, living with people who hold these opposing views, or have other circumstances where your safety could be compromised, you could make different decisions.”

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from The Times’ Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids decision-making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles – including current Times subscribers and various communities that have not met their needs through our coverage in the past.

How can we be useful to you and your community? Email Utility (at) latimes.com or one of our journalists: Matt Ballinger, Jon Healey, Ada Tseng, Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia.

Leave a Comment