The trauma of moral injury

By Tom Quiner

Returning servicemen are battling an intractable malady.

Psychologists call them “moral injuries.” They are baffled as to how to treat them.

Moral injuries occur to our soldiers who have killed other human beings during their deployment. In many cases, they occur even if they only witnessed killing and didn’t perpetrate it themselves, or even operated a drone which killed people.

An Associated Press story characterized moral injuries as follows:

“A moral injury tortures the conscience; symptoms include deep shame, guilt and rage. It’s not a medical problem, and it’s unclear how to treat it, says retired Col. Elspeth Ritchie, former psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general.”

Moral injuries have been around forever. They permeate American society at frightening levels. The Catholic Church has seen it infect their flock in the lives of women who have had human abortions. The Church increasingly reaches out to these women, and the fathers of the aborted, with post-abortive counseling.

Pills can’t fix the problem.

Psychiatry can’t fix the problem.

It takes spiritual healing, a total embrace of the lavish forgiveness found at the foot of the cross. Even then, apparently, it’s a tough road to hoe for the post-abortive.

A priest once acknowledged the dilemma to me. He said women had come to him and confessed their sin of abortion. (Even if the culture says there is nothing wrong with it, women know in their gut that they’ve done something gravely wrong.) The priest said that Christ forgives them their sin. And He does, He really, really does.

But they can’t accept His forgiveness.

That is how traumatic moral injuries are.

Interestingly, CNN showed an interest on how abortion affects the lives of women after having abortions. A couple of years ago, they asked women to come forward and tell their stories. The vast majority of the women who came forward acknowledge regret, deep pain and suffering due to their decision.

God love these women. They are hurting bad. Here are but a few comments from CNN’s website from post-abortive women:

“7 years later and I am still heartbroken.”

“I never wanted to have an abortion, but it haunts me that I still did it anyway.”

“I wanted them to put that baby back inside of me.”

“I don’t know a single post abortive woman that isn’t self destructive.”

“Our choices have consequences whether we see it right away or not.”

“For months after that, I knew nothing except that I wanted to die. Death was the only certain escape from the horrific pit that had formed in my soul. I begged for therapy. I screamed for help. But only inside. How could I admit what I had done?”

As the Army is slowly learning, human beings experience moral injuries when they kill other human beings.

Women who buy the lie that human abortion is moral because it is legal are suffering the same injuries as our soldiers.

Although there are just wars, there are no just abortions.

We need to end abortion for the sake of women, if nothing else. Millions of women are dying a slow death due to the trauma of moral injuries.


  1. toostimmed on April 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Morality is programmable, that’s why we got people without the same morals and we’ve got people who can accept new ones.
    The phrase “Get over it” is a lot more powerful than people let it off to be, seeing as they use it in negative connotations. If people learned to accept their actions of the past and work to change for a better future then they’d be fine.

    • quinersdiner on April 9, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      In light of the lasting moral wounds associated with human abortion, your premise that morality is programmable is dubious. The Left and their allies in the mainstream media have worked hard to make the case that abortion is a good thing. No matter how many times women hear the message, it eventually catches up with them.

      • toostimmed on April 10, 2015 at 7:04 am

        Abortion isn’t good o-o No one would agree with that on a personal level.

        • quinersdiner on April 10, 2015 at 10:06 am

          Sadly, anecdotal information as shared in my post, refute your thesis, as does statistical data: A meta-analysis, published in Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, of 22 studies from six countries involving 877,181 women revealed women who choose abortion are more likely to experience a variety of subsequent mental health issues, including 155 percent higher rate of suicidal behavior. Even more, these women were 55 percent more likely to experience mental health problems than women with unplanned pregnancies who rejected the abortion option.

      • Shawn Pavlik on April 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm

        Hey, toostimmed, you really think no one would say “abortion is a good thing”? Read this:

      • Shawn Pavlik on April 10, 2015 at 1:28 pm

        Tom, you really need to look at that ridiculous link. This is one of the paragraphs from that page, parsed by sentence:

        “First, and most obviously, if you have a uterus, your life depends on being able to control what goes on inside of it; giving birth necessarily represents a drastic lifestyle change and heavy financial responsibility, which lasts anywhere from nine months to the rest of your natural-born life. Therefore, in order to effectively plan a life and career, you must have some guarantee that you will never be forced to take on the risk or cost of childbirth unless you choose to do so. ”

        Um…I am pretty sure that very few women are FORCED to “take on the risk or cost of childbirth”. Other than those who are raped, women CHOOSE to have sex, and most women understand that if they do, that a child could result.

        “Birth control and abortion are the only ways to provide such a guarantee. If we are to have leaders and geniuses with uteruses, we must provide them with the reproductive freedom necessary to go to school and build careers.”

        Actually abstinence works 100% of the time. As you’ve pointed out elsewhere, family planning is about 99% effective.

        “Abortion saves lives, and even if your life is not directly or immediately endangered by your pregnancy, I don’t have the right to force you to risk life and limb, or go through drastic and painful physical experiences like labor, simply because I prefer that you stay pregnant.”

        LOL…Abortion SAVES lives? Abortion takes lives. And as I stated before, in most cases, no one forces women to have sex or to be irresponsible about using proper birth control.

        • quinersdiner on April 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm

          Thanks for sharing the quotes, Shawn. You’re, right, they are laughable … if they weren’t so deadly.

  2. Shawn Pavlik on April 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Not sure about “there are no just abortions”. What if the life of the mother is at risk? What if the child is brain-dead? These are rare cases, but there are exceptions to every rule.

  3. Shawn Pavlik on April 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    And you’ll love this as well, Tom…

    “And, finally, abortion prevents suffering—not only the emotional, physical and financial suffering of parents, but that of infants. Some fetal defects, such as bilateral renal agenesis (lack of both kidneys) or anencephaly (lack of an upper brain and skull) are simply not survivable. We’re not talking disabilities, we’re talking death sentences: If the pregnancy is brought to term, the child will die, usually within hours or days of birth.”

    As you said, abortion CAUSES suffering, often psychological problems from those who have aborted children….