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Denial in the context of abortion attitudes

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 11th 2006

Saw this on 'The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion'. This is a very interesting article describing how some abortion foes who go so far as to picket clinics that perform abortions are themselves frequent flyers at the clinics, having multiple abortions themselves, and then continuing to picket the clinics after having those abortions. Clinic operators and doctors are quoted to provide examples. The inconsistant, even hypocritical, behavior described therein makes for a good illustration of denial in action, regardless of your personal position regarding the morality of abortion procedures themselves. And don't make the mistake of thinking that this sort of behavior happens only on this side of the fence. Denial is universal.

How exactly are people able to contradict their professed beliefs so massively? A bit of fancy cognitive footwork is almost certainly occuring, very likely involving the use of coping strategies for resolving what otherwise might be crippling Cognitive Dissonance. Maybe people who do this sort of thing really don't believe what they profess to believe, and only act like they do to please other people in their lives. Maybe they do believe, but somehow don't think they need to be consistant in applying their beliefs to themselves. If the latter is true, maybe they are experts at compartmentalizing their lives, so that (in this example) they literally do not think about their own affirmative abortion choices while protesting abortions? When this strategy gets extreme, we call it 'dissociation'. I'm not sure how to explain it really, but it is facinating. Got any ideas as to how people manage to pull this sort of thing off?

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

sociopath? or delusional? - - Jul 31st 2014

Maybe some are sociopaths who want to influence lives and or create added suffering to women having abortions. So it's less about the abortion and more about power. In this case they wouldn't care if they had an abortion themselves or not.

Maybe they're delusional. They think by saving others 'unborn child' it makes up for aborting their own child.

I had an abortion when I was young and was completely unprepared for the devastating emotional effect it had on me. I took drugs after, had a break down. Then had therapy and faced it and dealt with it. When a young women says to me they are considering an abortion I say it's their choice but warn them of what happened to me but I also say I wouldn't have achieved the qualifications I have or had that young freer life I had. I've seen some have abortions and be fine but unfortunately I've also seen women have a similar reaction as me. I'm not a protester, I believe it's personal choice but if I were to protest it would be from the angle of the devastating effect it could have. However as I said I've seen some women deal with it alot better than me, I don't think anyone knows how they will react till afterwards. 

I still think swaying a decision rather than supporting and offering perspective is more sociopathic or based on some kind of delusion than from a positive place because where does the desire to force own beliefs on others come from, where does that drive to stand there protesting stem from? It's a power trip or for some other kind of perceived self gain

Abortion Protesters - - Nov 6th 2012

The reason a lot of the Abortion protesters had abortions is because after the women had Abortions they realized from personal experience how horrible it is and decided to protest it.

Another perspective... - TWCrew - Mar 18th 2006
Don't forget the society/subculture bubble that the person functions in may also be playing a part in this. If a woman is part of a faith/church group, family, or other social circle that believes abortion is wrong she may find herself feeling as if she has to protest in order to keep in line with that group. She may also be very afraid of what would happen to her if that circle of people in her life found out the truth about her past abortions, so she may try even harder to appear to be anti-abortion in order to try to keep her secret(s) safe. TWCrew

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