Original Articles

Why We Should Avoid the use of the Term “Post-Abortion Syndrome”: Commentary on Boulind and Edwards (2008)

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 19, issue 3, 2009 , pages: 423–427
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2009.10820311
Author(s): Catriona MacleodRhodes University, South Africa


Boulind and Edwards (2008) present a case study of Grace, a women suffering, in their words, from post-abortion syndrome (PAS). In this commentary I argue that while Boulind and Edwards' (2008) report is useful in terms of documenting the therapeutic processes engaged in, they would have been better served in not hanging the distress experienced by Grace on the diagnostic category of post-abortion syndrome. Reasons for this are that: PAS is not a recognised category of diagnosis, despite having been initially proposed in 1981; applying a PTSD framework to abortion is questionable; PAS focuses attention on the abortion itself in isolation from the fact that abortion occurs in the context of severely problematic pregnancies and other important socio-cultural stressors; PAS, in the very manner in which it is formulated, invokes to a very complex politics of the foetus. Boulind and Edwards (2008) are careful in their documentation of the complexities of the case, and thus their use of PAS is unfortunate.

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