Interview with Dr. Philip Ney

Dr. Philip Ney

P: I am very privileged to welcome Dr. Philip Ney, who has done extensive research into the effects of abortion, not only on those who obtain them but on surviving children and on the impact abortion has on our entire society. Dr. Ney, thank you so much for being with us and I look forward to your sharing a little bit about the work you have been doing over the years with post-abortion phenomena. How did you get involved in this work?

N: Good question, Frank. I am a practicing child and family psychiatrist. I am also a child psychologist. And years ago a mother comes to me and she says, "I have this beautiful baby, a wonderful supportive husband, a lovely home, I have had a good delivery and a beautiful pregnancy but I cannot touch this child." And I have been doing research in child abuse and written a number of academic papers, so I have to think, now what is wrong? I mean, all of the things that you would think are right. But still the mother cannot touch her baby. And of course what turns out is that she had had an abortion of her previous pregnancy. So I have then to think what is the connection? Is there any connection between an abortion and later difficulty in bonding to a child? So that is one thing we have been doing research for the last 20 years. And it turns out to be the case.

Sadly enough, statistically speaking and I have to say this very carefully, statistically speaking women who have had abortions are less likely to bond to their children, and therefore these children are more likely to be abused and neglected. Also, women who were abused and neglected as children are more likely to have abortions. And I can tell you that wherever I have said this, in whatever kind of an audience, people have become really quite upset, sometimes very angry. But I think I can say that having done the research now over a number of years and published a number of papers, that that is a statistically significant connection. That is not to say that every mother who has an abortion is a bad mother, just not true. But it does say that this is something we had better look into, because people are very concerned about rising rates of child abuse, neglect. So that is one area. And that is how it got started.

Since that time, as you suggest, I have looked at all sorts of other connections. And there are manifold connections and they seem to be inner connections. It makes you wonder about things like human ecology and what we are doing to humanity.

P: Tell us about some of the other effects that abortion has on the larger family and on society.

N: Certainly. Well the other thing of course, since I am a child psychiatrist, I talk to children. And it soon comes to my attention in interviewing children that they begin to suspect or frankly they know that one of their siblings was aborted. So what is it like now to grow up in a home where you suspect or you know that one of your little unborn siblings was aborted? It creates a whole range of very, very deep conflicts. And we now call that post-abortion survivor syndrome.

They have in common many of the conflicts that were found in those people who survived the Holocaust. For instance they have survivor guilt. They feel it is not right for them to be alive. And they wonder why they should be selected when their little siblings were selected to die … which is precisely what happened to the people from the Holocaust. Why were they selected to live and some of their friends, relatives, and family were selected to die? And it leaves this deep sense of guilt. And that is a difficult, difficult thing to treat, because it is so deeply embedded. And of course with that is how can you trust your parents? Are they capable of killing you too? They killed one of your little siblings. And then it comes down to one of the deepest fears of all children, which is my parents might kill and eat me. And of course you see that in children’s stories like Hansel and Gretel, the wicked witch is going to put them in the oven. In various cultures, in various parts of the world all have deeply embedded this very deep fear that children have that their parents might kill and eat them. And of course abortion comes very close to that. And so it creates an enormous distrust of your parents. And if you can't trust your parents then it is likely that you are not going to trust parent-like figures: teachers and everybody… priests. How can you people like that who take life, innocent life, or don’t protect it as much as they should?

So in any case there is this wide range of signs and symptoms from a deep conflict engendered by the facts that they are survivors, survivors of abortions. So that is one of the other areas.

And then there is the other area of course that is really important to me: What does it do to the medical profession? I spend time with people who are worrying about how it affects them and how it affected them if they did or did not do abortions. And that is an important area of study that we are engaging in. And of course we are looking at the impact of abortion on families in general and husbands in particular. That hasn’t been properly studied very much. And finally we are looking at the whole issue of what does abortion do to general health, biochemical components. And we are doing some research in that area. So we have about five ongoing research projects, and when I have the time and if I can find the money, I’d do more studies and write papers and give presentations to my colleagues and get these things published as fast as I can in scientific journals.

P: Do you find that when research is done in these various areas dealing with a topic that is so sensitive and explosive as abortion, there is any particular difficulty in getting these research papers published?

N: Yes, yes. It is sad to say, -- and I have been on editorial boards of journals and I know how they function, and how truly in their hearts they want to do what is right and publish good stuff, -- but there is a certain blindness to certain things that they have already concluded can’t exist. And when I publish things about the connection between child abuse and abortion, many of my colleagues, without reading the studies, get very angry -- not at the study or criticize the study, they get angry at me. The old argumentum ad hominum. And I think that is really sad because if we are going to address this thing scientifically we’ve got to keep our minds open and I am afraid that some of my colleagues do not keep their minds open on these issues.

P: I, in the course of my travels, in dealing exclusively with the abortion problem, have encountered and have developed friendships with some of those who have provided abortions in the past. I know that a good deal of your work is to deal directly with such individuals and help them find healing. Can you speak briefly about that particular work.

N: Yes I can. We have done a study, and we have spent time counseling people who have now stopped doing abortions. And both from the clinical observations and the data that we have collected, I think it is possible now to describe what happens both going in to the abortion industry and coming out of it. So what we have tried to do is provide people with a model that helps them understand why they got there and how best to get out of it if they want to get out of it. And being a priest, Frank, you would understand this model. In the Old Testament the congregation came and confessed their sins to the priest, the priest put his hands on the head of a little goat, a perfect little goat without spot or blemish, and then somebody was designated to lead this goat in to the wilderness where it was supposed to die, had to die. And it was very interesting, for instance if you read the New Jerusalem translation, he is a "fit man, standing by." And you have to ask yourself, now here is a good guy, he is obviously a reputable fellow, what is he doing there? Does he want this job? In any case the priest says all right you are going to do this for the rest of the congregation. So now he becomes the executioner for the scapegoat, the goat that is scaped.

And so now these people who do abortions are the executioners of the scapegoats which are the little unborn children. And all of society’s unresolved problems and grief and anger get funneled onto these unborn children and somebody has to do them in. And these people are interested, they are standing by, and usually they are fit, they are not stupid and they know what they are doing to some extent.

Now most of these people have had really traumatic backgrounds themselves, that kind of edge them in this direction. And when they are trying to understand what happened to them and understand the process whereby they get out of this, they also have to understand all of those factors that predispose them to this kind of an activity. And that means a good deal of looking at yourself, your background, learning about the key conflicts that predispose you to this sort of thing. And as you would expect it’s interesting because as far as medicine is concerned they have the very best and the very worst kinds of practice. That is they have the opportunity to deliver babies, and you ask any old Doc, and you ask what did he enjoy best, what did I enjoy best when I was interning, I enjoyed delivering babies. And on the other hand they do the scapegoat executioning… and killing.

And this is an enormous contradiction. But you know historically before Hippocrates’ time, the doctor had a dual obligation, that is to cure if they could and if they couldn’t cure, to do people in with hemlock. And that dual obligation, when it came to Hippocrates and that point in Greek History, Hippocrates basically said this is not working, nobody will ever trust us if we have this dual responsibility. So we are going to dump that one part of our obligation, that is the killing, and only cure. And under no circumstances do any kind of killing. And of course what is happening is gradually that’s eroded and doctors are going back to the three pre-Hippocratic practices that Hippocrates tried to stop, that is not having hemlock readily available to kill people, not aborting people, and not having sex with them. Unfortunately in current medicine there is aborting people, there is euthanasia, and having sex. And you know begin to realize why the medicine.. why the practice of medicine and the medical profession is losing credibility.

So I don’t know if I am answering your question very well, but there are all of these interlocking components. What it does to the baby is obvious, what it does to the mother we have studied intensely, published in that area. What it does to the siblings, published in that area. What it does to the doctor. And obviously what it does to the family as a whole.

P: How would people be able to obtain the books that you have written on these various topics?

N: Well some of these books are published in different parts of the world. One of the books, Ending the Cycle of Abuse, is published in New York by Taylor Francis. The other ones are published in Canada, by Pioneer Publishing, and if they are interested in writing to me I can make sure that they get a copy. One of the most recent books is Deeply Damaged, and that is an attempt to explain some of these phenomena, and includes a fair bit of scientific data. And if people are interested in scientific papers and background data they should read that. And then there is a Treatise on Love, which is a scriptural perspective of psychiatry or psychiatric perspective of Scripture. And then there is one about what we call the Society of Centurions, the ex-abortionists. And then there is a pamphlet, about how do you talk to your child if you have had an abortion. And I think you should. And then there is a little booklet about abortion survivors.

P: Well we certainly appreciate all of the work you have done, that you are doing, and I want to pledge to you our cooperation at Priests For Life, and at the Pontifical Council on the Family at the Vatican. We recognize the incredible need that there is for more of this research, the need that there is to reach out in healing and in compassion for everybody who has been damaged by the tragedy of abortion -- that everybody including, as we see more and more from your research, all of us.

N: I think that is right Frank. I think that it effects all of us eventually.

P: Dr. Ney thank you so much and God Bless you.

N: God Bless you too. Thank you for your work.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 • Email: mail@priestsforlife.org