The Psychology of Abortion

“An authentic woman’s voice sings out in the work of Ginette Paris.
Her prose … is lush and extravagant, sometimes frankly erotic, but always thoughtful and thought provoking, always fresh and surprising.”

-Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times Review of Books


Translated in French (L’Enfant L’Amour La Mort) and in Portuguese (Sacramento Do Aborto)

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Excerpt from Ginette Paris’s Introduction to The Psychology of Abortion

I have drawn inspiration throughout this book from a guiding image, the Artemis of Greek mythology (known to the Romans as Diana). She is an untamed goddess, a champion of what we would think of today as
ecological values.

I have chosen her to enrich these reflections on abortion because her myth is full of what appear to be contradictory
elements, the same kinds of contradictions that abound in considerations of abortion. Artemis is both a protector of wild animals and a hunter who kills them with unerring aim. How can the same divinity be the patron saint of hunters and the protector of animals?

Greek women invoked her name during the pains of labor, but if a woman were to die or the infant could not survive, then a quick death, considered preferable in Greek eyes to a long agony or a life of suffering, was also attributed to Artemis.

The same goddess thus offers both protection and death to women, children, and animals. Why these contradictions? Why are they personified in a feminine divinity? Is it a way of saying that a woman’s protective power cannot function properly if she does not also possess full power, namely the power over death as well as life?

Her image belongs to us as well as to antiquity because, like all fundamental images of the human experience, which C.G. Jung called “archetypes,” she never really ages but reappears in different forms and different symbols. So we may ask ourselves what is happening today to this archetype that combines in such a paradoxical way the love of life and the acceptance of death. She encourages us to become more aware of the power of death, its inescapable nature, and its necessary role in a living ecology.

Abortion is about love, life, and death.

This book develops the idea that abortion is a sacred act, that it is an expression of maternal responsibility and not a failure of maternal love. If the issues surrounding life and death and children and love are not religious issues, or at least spiritual ones, what is left that is religious? But if we accept abortion as a religious act, then many questions arise. What sort of religion do we mean? Who defines it? What values does it represent?

Judeo-Christian values, which may have seemed necessary, perhaps even redemptive, some 2,000 years ago, now appear more and more irresponsible, and I will try to show how they are infinitely more cruel than abortion. What is a moral stand on reproduction worth if it doesn’t take responsibility for the children born of a religious duty?

What kind of a pope (el Papa in Italian) invests in Wall Street instead of providing for the hungry and destitute? What kind of fundamentalist morality turns its back on the suffering of mothers and couples and children when babies arrive unwanted in the world? And, above all, can we accept any kind of religious morality that has lost sight of the larger implications of a global ecology?