June 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On June 13, 2011 the New York City Department of Health revealed that over half of the city’s abortions are repeat procedures.  Nationwide the Alan Guttmacher Institute tells us the rate is 47%.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for women to have 3, 4, 10 and, as we learned from Irene Vilar, as many as 15 abortions. 


Former New York City Resident Irene Vilar might be considered an authority on this phenomenon.  In her book “Impossible Motherhood” Irene refers to her personal experience of abortion repetition as a type of addiction.


At this point you are fairly asking yourself, “what is the matter with these women?  Why would someone continue to engage in the same behavior, with the same predictable outcome?”  No one would claim that abortion is a pleasant experience … we know that for many women it is an emotionally and physically traumatic experience.  What is going on?  We need a solution.


More of the Same


What is the solution offered by the New York Health Department?  These women need more effective birth control counseling. 


But in a June 15 article in the New York Metro Irene Vilar considers this question after her 15 abortions: “Would (birth control counseling) help or be something that breaks through the cycle of repeated abortion?”


She flatly states: “My take is no.”


Irene, as you will learn, has it exactly right.


The Right Medicine


It is essential when treating a sick person that the health care professional be trained to identify when a collection of symptoms points to a particular disease process or condition … cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, etc.  Without a proper diagnosis a patient will likely experience increased symptoms and dysfunction.  In fact, the wrong treatment can kill the patient. 


Increasing birth control for women experiencing repeat abortions is like prescribing cancer treatment to a diabetic.  It is the wrong cure because the NY City Department of Health is clueless about a major contributing factor to the problem of repeat abortions: traumatic repetition.


It’s About Healing


If we understand the root cause of this problem we can help find real solutions. Tragically, the politics and ideology of abortion rights likely shared by the members of the NY City Department of Health create an impenetrable obstacle to understanding and treating this epidemic. 


Pro-abortion bureaucrats, researchers, and activists must maintain a strict orthodoxy, and the religion of “choice” has a pretty simple creed: abortion is good. Anything that challenges that assumption, even if it may lower abortion rates and reduce the physical and emotional impact of repeat abortions, is heretical.


Here is the truth that the abortion fundamentalists can never accept: When a woman has her first abortion, and is unable to find emotional and spiritual healing after that loss, she is more likely to find herself on the abortionist table again.


Dr. Theresa Burke explored the dynamics of repeat abortions in her international clinical experience with thousands of post-abortive women.  She is the co-founder of Rachel's Vineyard and has published a groundbreaking study of abortion trauma entitled "Forbidden Grief."


Dr. Burke discovered that multiple abortions are a symptom of trauma. Repetition is a reliable indication of trauma. It becomes part of an unconscious process to gain mastery over the painful feelings associated with the initial abortion experience, to feel a sense of control, and over time, detached indifference. This phenomenon, common among victims of trauma is called Traumatic Re-enactment.


But this traumatic mastery comes at a high price, as emotional and relational dysfunction flourish in these women’s lives. The trauma actually dictates future choices.  This reveals the importance of emotional and spiritual healing from the pain of abortion. It is essential to prevent multiple abortions and deepening despair and treatable dysfunction.


The real “choice” is clear.  Want to lower the repeat abortion rate in NYC?  Then let’s start educating the women of New York City about post-abortion trauma and traumatic repetition, and, most importantly, the good news that effective treatment is available. 


Kevin Burke, LSW, and Theresa Burke, Ph.D., are Co Founders of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and Pastoral Associates of Priests for Life.  You can contact them at rachel@rachelsvineyard.org