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Guns, Roe and An Uncertain World

Today is a day I never thought I would see – or at least, I hoped I wouldn’t. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 decision that has left shockwaves across the world. It is a step backwards for women’s rights, and human rights, that is beneath us as a country, and one that will cause untold suffering.

As a Trauma Practitioner, I am deeply versed in what actually causes the trauma that upends people’s lives and keeps folks broken for years on end. Addiction – Abuse – Rape – Suicide – Accidents – Domestic Violence – and so much more…. What do they have in common?

When the actions of others, or outside forces of any kind, take away our decisions and make us helpless and terrified of our own power. Trauma occurs when something Not of Our Own Making takes over – and we have no voice, no choice and no recourse.

That is what Covid did – ran roughshod over our entire world – caused untold suffering, death and uncertainty. We had lock-downs and fear from sea to shining sea. The damage to our healthcare system, our teachers and students, our families and institutions cannot be measured in dollars, but in exhaustion and an erosion of trust. And we are not done with it yet….

Now comes the overturning of Roe. The trauma that this will visit on the women, especially the poor, of this country will be devastating. The anguish of being forced to carry and have a child that you may not want, cannot financially support, or comes from rape or incest, will do severe damage to the health and well-being of everyone, not just of women, but on everyone who depends on them – their spouses, employers, kids already born, friends & families. And this will add to the healthcare crisis in this country, not to mention deepen our mental health care crisis.

Just how many crises are we supposed to be able to handle???

The American Psychological Association has expressed deep concern that the long-term damage to mental health due to not having control over one’s bodily decisions will be devastating:

“Rigorous, long-term psychological research demonstrates clearly that people who are denied abortions are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety, lower life satisfaction and lower self-esteem compared with those who are able to obtain abortions,” said APA President Frank C. Worrell, PhD. “In addition, there is no research to indicate that abortion is a cause for subsequent mental health diagnoses.”

And who is affected most deeply? The poor and the already vulnerable:

Someone’s ability to control when and if they have a child is frequently linked to their socioeconomic standing and earning power. Therefore, laws restricting access to safe, legal abortions are most likely to affect those living in poverty, people of color, and sexual and gender identity minorities, as well as those who live in rural or medically underserved areas, Worrell added. Research also suggests that adding barriers to accessing abortion services may increase symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

And what will that lead to?

“The number of unsafe abortions is likely to increase when laws limit access to reproductive health care,” Worrell said. “And there is a strong relationship between unwanted pregnancy and interpersonal violence. Specifically, psychological science suggests that the inability to obtain an abortion increases the risk for domestic abuse among those who are forced to stay in contact with violent partners, putting them and their children at risk.”

This connects directly to the Firearms access issue – violent partners who could not get weapons before, may have more available to threaten and harm women. And the women themselves may have access to weapons for suicide.

Constant – Intractable – Trauma. More anger, More weapons, More violence on the most vulnerable of our society. On top of everything else they have to deal with.

This is not freedom.

This is the tyranny of a minority of moralists, creating a more abusive and unequal society. Just like Covid, this is not a political debate. These are facts about how our psyches work, and how our nation works.

These decisions will create more Trauma – and Unhealed Trauma destroys everything it touches. The only way out is for courage and protests and voting and empathy and a LOT more mental health care to take over. For the path we are on is cruel and violent and destructive – and it will break us.

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