Review | Prohibition of Abortion with Mental Health Exceptions


In “Psychiatrists May Decide Abortion Access” (Guest Review, Sunday Review, June 5), Sally Satel believes that mental health exemptions from abortion bans invite doctors and pregnant patients to lie. This claim leads some states to ban abortions except in cases of life-threatening “physical” emergencies.

This fear-making often ignores the reality that unwanted pregnancies often cause serious mental health crises. For example, in El Salvador’s ban on abortion, 38 percent of maternal deaths — hundreds every year — are the result of suicides of girls under the age of 19. Of course, not everyone who is forced to become pregnant will attempt suicide, but we should not seriously question it. the effect of being forced to have an unwanted pregnancy on mental health.

Mental health exceptions require doctors to address the abortion situation — poverty, the need to care for other children, bad relationships — and the refusal to understand how to enter can lead to severe mental breakdown or suicide. It is the truths of their patients who, rather than any lies, need these exceptions.

Michelle Oberman
Palo Alto, California
The writer is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.


In 1969 I had a so-called “therapeutic” abortion in California. At the time, as Sally Satel accurately described, California was one of three states that allowed such abortions.

But two psychiatrists interviewed me and assured me that my mental health was hanging in the balance due to an unwanted pregnancy.

So the doctors had to lie; I had to lie. I have been guilty of lying — not abortion — for more than 50 years.

Women should not be stigmatized or demonized for our decisions. And the medical profession should not be complicit, again, in illegal practices, unethical but sympathetic.

Nancy Schultz
Vancouver, Clear.


I’m a family nurse, and over the years I’ve had to take on a lot of my patients ’mental health management because I don’t have access to psychiatrists. Many psychiatrists are not involved in insurance plans, and it is especially difficult, if not nearly impossible, to find a psychiatrist for Medicaid patients.

How will this affect women if they call psychiatrists on the stage proposed by Sally Satel to decide who has care for abortion? Will psychiatrists be available only to women who can afford it?

I’m afraid that this will be another way for those with resources to have an abortion, not those with fewer resources.

Abortion is health care. Mental health is health care. Both must be part of our health care system with accessibility for all.

Michelle Cochran


“Trump Rejected Aides Over Loss, Dening Reality” (first page, June 14):

When I saw interviews with insiders that the January 6 committee recommended to President Trump to approve the results of the 2020 election, I couldn’t help but think about the tremendous impact an individual could have on our society.

Just note that if the United States were a different country today, Mr. Trump would have acknowledged the accuracy of the vote counts, gladly accepted defeat, facilitated a smooth transition to Biden’s presidency, and then quietly withdrawn to Mar-a-Lagora.

Oh how I wish I could live in that country!

Bruce Harville
Madison, Wis.


“Why Aristo Looks for Traces So Young” (previous page, June 2):

The article that young men are heavily involved in mass shootings offers some compelling reasons, but it ignores a critical point: in many industrialized countries, young men face social pressures, changes in brain development, and violent social media content; however, mass shootings (including school shootings) are very rare outside the US

Most school shootings involve unsafe pistols. The ease with which these weapons and others can be obtained — unlike other countries — creates a perfect storm where emotionally disturbed and lonely teenagers find a deadly expression.

Ronald W. Pies
Lexington, Mass.
The writer is a psychiatrist.


“Trumpets, guitars, violins, and a little calm in Uvalde’s tears,” by Rick Rojas (news article, June 5):

As a Mexican American who is grieving the massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, I am grateful to Mr. Rojas for his outstanding tribute and tribute to the innocent lives lost, the mariachi music tradition and its mourning actors, and generations of immigrants and Mexican American families from across the country. —Pain, anger, and love — through this tragedy.

The presentation of our culturally rich, analytically elegant, and emotionally respectful presentation of our mariachi music and songs, and how they are being applied at very difficult times in life, must be read by all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural tradition.

Unfortunately, the ongoing gun violence across the country has become a national crisis affecting all cultural communities.

Alejandro Lugo
Park Forest, Ill.
The writer has taught anthropology and latinx for three decades at various universities.

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