Anti-abortion psychologist speaks on teen attitudes

April 04, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

When it comes to abortion, teen-agers who can't grasp the concept that dirty socks don't get washed unless they're put in the laundry cannot be treated like adults, the president of the National Right to Life Committee said yesterday.

"It's clear these kids need more time, more information," said Wanda Franz, the president and a psychologist in Morgantown, W.Va.

And the younger they are when they have abortions, the more stress may hit them later, she told a work shop on the effects of abortion on adolescents, at the 20th annual convention of

Maryland Right to Life Inc.

More than 200 people attended some part of the day's activities at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, said the state anti-abortion group's executive director, Roger Stenson.

Dr. Franz said she studied data from 250 females, ages 14 to 40, in 46 states who sought counseling for post-traumatic stress from abortions.

While the physical experience of abortion itself had little effect on later stress, she said the age at the time of the abortion had a marked effect on a woman's reactions.

The largest group in the study was aged 17 to 20 at the time of their abortions, she said.

She cautioned, "this is a special sample: identified as women in support-groups who have had problems because of abortions, so this might not be the case in a larger group."

From age 12 to 15, she said, girls tend to say of their pregnancy, "It's not my fault."

"From 'Why didn't your dirty socks get in the laundry' and 'Why did you leave your book at school' -- nothing is their fault," she said.

"They tend to feel very strongly that abortion is their only option."

The 15- to 18-year-old age group is ambivalent toward abortion, she said, and vulnerable to peer pressure and problems with self-esteem that may follow.

From age 18 into college, she said, attitudes shift toward the baby's father, and thoughts of marriage and the baby.

But throughout adolescence and the early 20s, she said, young people think they're magical. "You can say to a kid, 'If you have unprotected sex for a year, . . . there's a 90 percent chance you'll get pregnant.' They hear you, but think, 'That won't happen to me. I'm special. I'm not going to have those problems.' "

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