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Abelin-Sas, G. (1992). To Mother or Not to Mother: Abortion and its Challenges. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 1(4):607-622.

(1992). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 1(4):607-622

To Mother or Not to Mother: Abortion and its Challenges

Graciela Abelin-Sas, M.D.

A new life is never free from old inscriptions. Who is it that is being brought to life? Who is being reproduced? Whose ideals are about to find expression in this new flame of germinal matter? Who is it that a woman might prefer not to bring into existence? Above all, is a woman free to choose not to mother? After she has made that final decision, how might she react to the termination of this possibility? Can she ever accept its loss? If she consciously does so, what other inscriptions might this leave on her unconscious mind, and how generative of new situations could this loss become?

It has been my clinical experience that an unwanted pregnancy (always an overdetermined event in a woman's life) could bring an organizing unconscious structure to a preconscious level. Regardless of what the content of this unconscious structure is, the resulting unconscious interpretation that the woman will give to the act of interrupting a pregnancy will be, thereafter, central to her psychological economy. It could, therefore, become the core around which fantasies, memories, and historical events intertwine into a new organizational structure that might determine the meaning of future events.

Very often, the relief a woman experiences after the termination of a consciously unwanted pregnancy is such that there is little openness in her toward integrating her feelings of loss or into pursuing an inquiry into the origins of her paradigm. There are many reasons for that difficulty, not the least of which is the unconscious inscription of an abortion as an infanticidal act, or the immediate emotional connection that a woman experiences with her fetus.


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