Here is something Planned Parenthood does not want you to know: Annually more than 13,000 women seek post-abortion counseling to deal with the unpleasant effects of post-abortion syndrome or PAS. What is PAS? It consists of emotional and physical problems that can affect women in the aftermath of an abortion. Depression and feelings of guilt are two common symptoms of PAS. Over time these problems can morph into bigger problems such as substance abuse.

Predictably, abortion advocates have developed a ready—albeit disingenuous—response to claims of PAS. They simply deny its existence. Because PAS can take years to manifest itself, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion entities claim that the depression, guilt, and substance abuse associated with PAS might have been caused by other issues in the lives of the women in question. Writing for TOWNHALL in December 2012, Cortney O’Brien had this to say about PAS and how abortion advocates respond to it: “Post-abortion syndrome is a highly contested term in today’s polarizing world of the pro-life versus pro-choice. The condition can affect women who have had an abortion and leave them with severe physical and emotional issues…Many crisis pregnancy centers acknowledge the existence of PAS, emphasizing the plight of women who come through their doors each year seeking help for a range of emotional trauma. Pro-abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood, however, challenge these centers’ characterizations.”

The weakness in Planned Parenthood’s defense against claims of PAS is that severely depressed women who are suffering feelings of gnawing guilt know exactly what they feel guilty about. Another weakness is that the existence of PAS rings true because it makes sense. After all, how many people—driven by emotion, fear, or external pressure—have made an expedient decision that seemed right in the heat of the moment only to regret that decision later. This is one of the most common situations known to man. Planned Parenthood can deny the dirty little secret of PAS with all the vehemence it can muster, but it cannot tell the more than 13,000 women who seek counseling for post-abortion distress that it does not exist. Nor can it deny the results of a report released by researchers at the University of Manitoba in 2010. The report’s conclusion is that women who have an abortion are almost four times more likely to engage in substance abuse than women who give birth to their babies.

But denying PAS is practically mantra for officials of Planned Parenthood. In fact, PAS claims have Planned Parenthood officials so concerned that they dedicate space on their website to denying it. Go to PlannedParenthood.org and you will find the following slap at those who endorse the concept of PAS: “Anti-choice extremists refuse to accept the facts. They insist that ‘post abortion trauma’ is real. They hope that such terms will frighten women away from choosing abortion. But neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognizes the existence of such phenomena—because there’s no such thing.”

Someone needs to inform officials at Planned Parenthood that using either the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association as the basis for its organizations in America. If these two associations have not teamed up to include PAS in their bible—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV)—it is only because they do not want the headaches that would come with endorsing this political hot potato. Further, neither organization can be relied on to withhold recognition of PAS permanently. A good rule of thumb to understand about both organizations is that what is not in the DSMIV now will be someday. This is the same diagnostic manual that contains such so-called disorders as math phobia (a fairly common disorder that strikes students who don’t like to study).

Thousands of women suffer severe depression, gnawing guilt, and burning anger in the aftermath of an abortion. Planned Parenthood can deny the existence of this debilitating phenomenon as long and as loudly as it wants, but to paraphrase Shakespeare: Me thinks they deny too much. If Planned Parenthood is truly interested in helping women and not just killing unborn babies, it has a moral obligation to give the women it serves the full picture of how things might be after the procedure. Women seeking an abortion need to understand—and have a right to be told—that the relief they feel immediately after the procedure might eventually turn into something unpleasant that can continue to haunt them long after the baby they aborted would have been grown and gone.