Jody Duffy, a former U.S. Army officer, responds to Lawrence J. Korb's June 30 Op-Ed article, "U.S. military's abortion policy is out of date." Duffy is a retreat leader for Rachel's Vineyard, a post-abortion healing program that is part of Priests for Life.
I was a second lieutenant in the United States Army when I had an abortion. The pregnancy was the result of a date rape.
My abortion changed me. I was no longer the person I had been. I lost my identity and could not do my job effectively; eventually, I left the military and a career I had so much looked forward to. My healing from that experience came many years later. However, the scar will always be there.
As a team member and leader of Rachel's Vineyard retreats for post-abortive mothers and fathers for the last 10 years, I have worked with women who also were serving in the military at the time of their abortions. I have seen the pain and anguish these women suffer as a result.
If the military is having such a critical problem with sexual assaults, then it ought to address that issue directly instead of simply reacting by providing taxpayer-funded abortions. Easier access to abortion is not the answer to the problem of sexual assault in the military. Abortion does not solve the problem of crisis pregnancy, rape or no rape. It only exacerbates it.
The military is about the mission. When a soldier -- male or female -- is involved in an abortion, the mission is compromised. Women and men can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following an abortion. Symptoms can include self-isolation, sleep disorder, anger, depression, reduced motivation, alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal impulses, anxiety and loss of interest in daily activities of life. Post-abortive men and women can become abusive in relationships or tolerate abuse directed at them. Fear of failure and feelings of inferiority can result in a soldier not living up to his or her potential. Any number of situations a soldier experiences, especially combat, can trigger flashbacks to the abortion procedure. Reacting impulsively puts a soldier's life and others at risk.
Pro-choice advocates often dismiss such tales of post-abortion stress. I know it's real. I lived it, and I have worked with countless women who have had to deal with it.
I see nothing positive about providing abortions for military members. I see just the opposite. We already have a generation of soldiers at serious risk of suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. My fear is that providing abortions on military bases would put many of them at risk of suffering post-abortion stress disorder as well. How can that be good for the military? How can that be good for our country?
Some of the people who revile the killing of innocent children in war promote the killing of innocent children in the womb. Both are tragedies, and neither should be minimized or accepted. War is violent; so is abortion. Both result in death. Providing easy access and funding to abortion won't solve the military's crisis pregnancy problem. Awareness and education will.