by Christina Mitchell
February 2, 2006
Christina Mitchell writes about families in her column Ties That Bind, which appears in the Cherry Hill Courier Post newspaper in New Jersey.
If it’s true hindsight is 20/20, then George J. Zallie’s vision never has been sharper.
But his heart is in pieces.
Zallie’s daughter and youngest child, Stacy, took her own life in October 2002, almost a year after having an abortion she kept from her close-knit family.
Zallie is convinced the resulting emotional roller coaster led to her death, days before she was to be a bridesmaid in her older brother’s wedding.
"I knew it was a life event for her," says Zallie, 53. ". . . It was the most serious issue in that brief life of hers. I know, in my heart, it took a toll on her emotionally and mentally, that she couldn’t recover from it. And it just breaks my heart that she didn’t open up."
So Zallie put his shattered heart, his prominent name — he’s the second-generation owner of eight area ShopRites — and his financial clout behind a Web portal and foundation in his daughter’s name that provides post-abortion support and advice.
The Cherry Hill resident immersed himself in research on the emotional after-effects of abortion and heard both sides of the great divide, committing to neither one. (For the record, Zallie family campaign contributions over the last several years have gone to Democrats and Republicans alike.)
Zallie admits he was previously ambivalent about the issue — as a man; as the father of a stereotypical "good kid"; as part of a great, silent majority for whom abortion is neither black nor white but a murky gray.
But when he attended a retreat in Malvern, Pa., after Stacy’s death — the only man in a roomful of 22 women who’d had abortions — Zallie had his epiphany.
"I heard guilt, remorse, loss," he recalls. "Their frankness was really astounding to me. It was helpful for me in understanding just what Stacy was going through . . . It became important to me to get the message out."
And while Zallie may be more committed to the message than most people, it’s fair to argue, as he does, that post-abortion effects have not been widely studied or publicized. Twenty percent of women who’ve had abortions may suffer some depression, says Mark Rosenberg, an advanced practice psychiatric nurse at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-School of Medicine in Stratford.
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Related web sites:
Stacy Zallie Foundation Web site – https://www.stacyzallie.org