The Cost of Abortion

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In addition to 1.37 Million lives lost annually in the United States from abortion women who undergo abortions frequently suffer psychological harm. Researchers investigating post-abortion reactions often report only one positive emotion: relief. This emotion is understandable, especially in light of the fact that the majority of aborting women report feeling under intense pressure to "get it over with."8,23

Temporary feelings of relief are frequently followed by a period psychiatrists identify as emotional "paralysis," or post-abortion "numbness."18 Like shell-shocked soldiers, these post-abortion women are unable to express or even feel their own emotions. Their focus is primarily on having survived the ordeal, and they are at least temporarily out of touch with their feelings. Studies within the first few weeks after the abortion have found that between 40 and 60 percent of women questioned report negative reactions.3,23,35 Within 8 weeks after their abortions, 55% expressed guilt, 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% had experienced sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor.3

In one study of 500 post-abortion women, researchers found that 50 percent expressed negative feelings, and up to 10 percent were classified as having developed "serious psychiatric complications."10 Thirty to fifty percent of post-abortion women report experiencing sexual dysfunctions, of both short and long duration, beginning immediately after their abortions.23,8 In a study of teenage abortion patients, half suffered a worsening of psychosocial functioning within 7 months after the abortion. The immediate impact appeared to be greatest on the patients who were under 17 years of age and for those with previous psychosocial problems. Symptoms included: self-reproach, depression, social regression, withdrawal, obsession with need to become pregnant again, and hasty marriages. 29

The best available data indicates that on average there is a five to ten year period of denial during which a woman who was traumatized by her abortion will repress her feelings.23,24 During this time, the woman may go to great lengths to avoid people, situations, or events which she associates with her abortion and she may even become vocally defensive of abortion in order to convince others, and herself, that she made the right choice and is satisfied with the outcome. In reality, these women who are subsequently identified as having been severely traumatized, have failed to reach a true state of "closure" with regard to their experiences. Repressed feelings of any sort can result in psychological and behavioral difficulties which exhibit themselves in other areas of one's life. An increasing number of counselors are reporting that unacknowledged post-abortion distress is the causative factor in many of their female patients, even though their patients have come to them seeking therapy for seemingly unrelated problems.13,17

A 5 year retrospective study in two Canadian provinces found that 25% of post-abortion women made visits to psychiatrists as compared to 3% of the control group.5 Women who have undergone post-abortion counseling report over 100 major reactions to abortion. Among the most frequently reported are: depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children.23,24

Among the most worrisome of these reactions is the increase of self-destructive behavior among post-abortion women. In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80 percent expressed feelings of "self-hatred." In the same study, 49 percent reported drug abuse and 39 percent began to use or increased their use of alcohol. Approximately 14 percent described themselves as having become "addicted" or "alcoholic" after their abortions. In addition, 60 percent reported suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times.24

If you are suffering after an abortion, please get help.

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3. Ashton,"They Psychosocial Outcome of Induced Abortion", British Journal of Ob&Gyn.(1980),vol.87,p1115-1122.

5. Badgley,,Report of the Committee on the Operation of the Abortion Law(Ottawa:Supply and Services,1977) pp.313-321.

8. Francke, The Ambivalence of Abortion (New York: Random House, 1978).

10. Friedman,,"The Decision-Making Process and the Outcome of Therapeutic Abortion", American Journal of Psychiatry (December

13. Heath,"Psychiatry and Abortion",Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal (1971), vol.16, pp55-63)

17. Kent, et al., "Bereavement in Post-Abortive Women: A Clinical Report", World Journal of Psychosynthesis (Autumn-Winter 1981), vol.13,nos.3-4.

18. Kent,, "Emotional Sequelae of Therapeutic Abortion: A Comparative Study", presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychiatric Association at Saskatoon, Sept. 1977.

23. Reardon, Aborted Women-Silent No More, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1987).

24. Reardon,"Criteria for the Identification of High Risk Abortion Patients: Analysis of An In-Depth Survey of 100 Aborted Women", Presented at the 1987 Paper Session of the Association for Interdisciplinary Research, Denver.

29. Wallerstein,, "Psychosocial Sequelae of Therapeutic Abortion in Young Unmarried Women", Archives of General Psychiatry (1972) vol.27.

35. Zimmerman, Passage Through Abortion (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1977). 

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