a new mother cries
this moment she’s been waiting for
the angel opens her eyes
pale, blue-colored iris presents the circle
and puts the glory out to hide, hide.
~ “Lightning Crashes,” Live
Most of us can picture the scene, at least from movies and television if we haven’t actually been there: Mom, newly-delivered, red-faced, sweaty and exhausted, but smiling, cradles her newborn child. The infant’s eyes stare, fixed, back into hers, pupils dilated wide. In normal childbirth, this is what we can expect to witness. These moments of post-natal bonding are brought to us courtesy of various hormones released by the mother, in response to labor, and by the newborn, in response to the signals from his mother’s body.
But in the post-Roe world, Mom has a problem. There’s about a forty-percent chance she has had one or more pregnancies before this one that she chose to end with abortion because the pregnancy and/or the outcome were undesirable at that point in time. This may be all the recall of past stressors that she needs during labor to inhibit the adequate production of oxytocin and the other hormones she needs to protect her from the pain and trauma of childbirth. [Author's Note, 9/27/2005: further research has led me to conclude that the amount of oxytocin may be less significant than where it is utilized in the brain. In rats, the presence of adrenal steroids, released in response to fear and anxiety, increases the ability of oxytocin to bind with its receptors (or be put to use), but mainly in the amygdala. To facilitiate bonding behavior, the endorphinergic, opiate-like rewards of oxytocin must be used by the anterior cingulate, which we have already seen does not activate properly in those with PTSD.]
These are also the biological mechanisms acting on her brain by which she is encouraged to bond with her child. Stress and anxiety inhibit the production of these hormones, which can make childbirth a traumatic event. Environmental triggers will stimulate the sensory memory portion of Mom’s brain, and she may experience all of the anxiety and stress that surrounded the difficult moment(s) in time when pregnancy did not result in birth. And for about one in four post-abortive Moms, these cues are triggers for post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Mom’s stress response to childbirth will be elevated. Her labor may be prolonged because these hormones also facilitate birth in other ways. Prolonged and difficult labor can lead to the use of forceps and other complications that result in birth trauma.
So Mom’s problem isn’t hers alone, and for another very good reason: it is her production of these hormones that stimulates the infant to produce his own endorphins. They protect him from the traumatic pain of birth. They also dilate the infant’s pupils, encourage him to fix his gaze, and stimulate the bonding center in his brain, as well. His fixed stare is thought to attract just the kind of activity we see – long, loving, and bonding looks between mother and child. The lack of a maternal bond has been shown to lead to maladaptive behaviors later in life, such as an increase in criminal behavior, substance abuse, and violence.
But something else happens to the child who doesn’t have the protection of endorphins against the pain of childbirth: Strike one – at birth. Recently, the Veteran’s Administration announced they were going to “audit” the disability claims of some veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They claim to be doing this in response to the increasing numbers of cases that they are seeing. The VA suspects the condition is being over-diagnosed. I don’t think that’s necessarily accurate. The number of cases has been rising in the last three decades. This can be attributed to the current conflicts, and to a growing awareness of the disorder, but here’s another factor we aren’t considering. We started growing these young men and women in the post-Roe, post-traumatic-stress disorder world.
There are more cases of post-traumatic stress disorder being reported because there are more cases of PTSD to report, especially among our soldiers. These 30-and-unders are the legacy of the Roe decision. Minorities and the poor are over-represented in both our military and our abortion populations. So there’s a good chance our brave soldier’s Mom aborted one or more of his older siblings before they were allowed to reach the outside air alive. Did she produce enough endorphins during labor to prompt his own body’s response to protect him from birth trauma? We don’t know. But we know our traumatic experiences weaken us, may summate, and cause some degree of PTSD. It isn’t unreasonable to at least suspect that our current generation of young soldiers may be more susceptible to the disorder precisely because abortion was legally and widely available to their mothers.