Online articles promoting abortion are filled with seemingly endless stories about the “positive” attributes of abortion for women. But that only tells part of the story. Read enough of the articles and something else begins to come through—pain, hurt, confusion, anxiety, emotional turmoil, loneliness, relationship problems, mental illness and a various other emotions and personal issues that are often written off or minimized.
Scientific research shows that abortion is not beneficial to a woman’s mental health. Studies show that regardless of whether she has a surgical or chemical abortion, women can experience depression, abuse substances and are more likely to indulge in suicidal behaviors. An abortion is usually a singular event, but the emotional fallout from that one decision can have a devastating impact on a woman’s life and her future.
Emotional Consequences – Short Term:
Research shows that women can experience “regret and guilt, distress and anxiety, and grief, loss, emptiness and suffering” shortly after an abortion. Some of the feelings are based on the gestational age of the child and the abortion procedure used. For example, some women consider a chemical abortion a “loss” while a surgical abortion is a “death.”
The day a woman goes to the abortion center is stressful for a variety of reasons. Many women hide the procedure from their family and friends, and others know that there’s been a negative reaction to their decision. This causes a certain amount of anxiety and tension that the woman has to deal with before, during and after her abortion appointment. Women are also not allowed to have their significant other or a friend accompany them during the procedure, which can compound their stress.
Women also find the abortion process invasive, regardless if it is a chemical or surgical abortion. Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern, recalled her abortion experience as “noisy, painful and distressing.” The process left her “traumatized and deeply scarred.” This distressing experience can leave a lasting impact on a woman, which is why abortion businesses have begun using volunteer “abortion doulas.”
Abortion doulas are women who volunteer to act as support for the patient during the abortion process, since a woman cannot invite her own. But in reality the abortion doulas are there to support abortion in general and act as an advocate for the abortion business more than the patient. They offer no counseling or emotional support other than offering empty reassurances like “that’s okay, that’s normal.”
Emotional Complications – Long Term:
Glee actress Naya Rivera aborted her first child because she didn’t want to have one at the time. She says of her decision, “I don’t think I ever emotionally healed from the abortion, which is why it is so mind-blowing that some people think having an abortion is the carefree girl’s No. 1 choice to keep on partying. In reality it is anything but an easy choice. In some ways, I think choosing to have an abortion is almost harder than choosing to have your child because you make that choice knowing, or at least suspecting, that many moments of your life will now be tinged with regret.”
Consistently, the media proudly proclaims that various studies prove that abortion is good or “therapeutic” for women. They often report that one of the most consistent feelings that a woman experiences is relief, but that research is often biased and flawed. For example, one study was conducted by a university team that has a direct partnership with Planned Parenthood. Though some women may experience a feeling of relief, the emotions are much more complex.
There have been only a handful of good comprehensive studies on the emotional effects of abortion on women. Those studies have determined that women can experience depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and abuse substances like alcohol and drugs after an abortion. There are also a small group of researchers that suggests that women experience Post Abortion Stress Syndrome or PASS, which a trauma similar to PTSD.
According to one study, an abortion has no “therapeutic benefit” and it is unacceptable for “clinicians to authorize large numbers of abortion on grounds for which there is, currently, no scientific evidence.” In fact, the overall rates of mental health problems with women who have had abortions are 1.54 times higher than those who have not had an abortion. Childbirth does lead to some initial stress, but it is mostly transitional as “having a child has positive effects on women’s mental health.”
Having an abortion is a stressful experience, and feelings of anxiety increase marginally afterwards. About 13-41 percent of women who’ve had an abortion also experience some level of depression and a lower self-esteem. Substance abuse of alcohol and other illegal drugs were also reported. Women who’ve had abortions are also more likely to experience violence at some point in their lives. The rate of violence that a woman experiences and her anxiety will increase the more abortions she has during her lifetime. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 44 percent of women that year had a repeat abortion – for the second, third or fourth time.
One of the most damaging aspects of abortion is the possibility that it can cause a woman to demonstrate suicidal behavior or successfully commit suicide. One study in Finland found that the most common form of death after a woman had an abortion was suicide (n=3), which represented half the women who died. Additionally, one woman was murdered and another died in a traffic accident. There was only one death that could be attributed to “natural causes.”
The incidence of suicide in relation to abortion also has a disproportionate impact on women who are of a lower socioeconomic status and unmarried. At Planned Parenthood, nearly 75 percent of the women who visit their business fall at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. Women from lower socioeconomic status are also more likely to have a surgical rather than a chemical abortion.
Recent studies have indicated that suicide is on the rise, and it is disturbing to think that the connection between suicide and abortion has not been properly investigated. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country according to the CDC, and more than half of those had no known diagnosed mental health condition. Suicide among women 45 to 64 has also increased by 60 percent from 2000-2016.
The myth that abortion is a “safe medical procedure” has in many ways done irreparable harm to American society by giving women false hope that an abortion will help alleviate the stress of an unplanned pregnancy. Instead, a woman has an increased possibility of experiencing depression, regret, guilt, and grief, and they are more likely to abuse substances and commit suicide.
The experience affects each woman differently, and it could take years for the emotional fallout to take place. But at the end of the day abortion is not healthcare. Medical treatments were designed to help save lives, not take them.