There are many things that abortion providers don’t tell women. These “secrets” range from the details of fetal development, to the abortion process itself. However, one of the biggest things that those who are pro-abortion would like to conceal and deny is the long-term emotional and mental effects that abortion can have on women.
Abortion is by its very nature a traumatic event. The woman seeking an abortion may be in a very difficult financial, relational, or family situation. She may be the victim of rape or domestic violence. She may have been told by her doctor that the child she is carrying has a defect or disease, and that “terminating” the pregnancy is the best thing for both her and the child. Women who seek abortions are dealing with loss before they even step foot in the abortion clinic: loss of family support, loss of a boyfriend or husband, loss of the hopes and dreams they had before they got pregnant.
Abortion offers what seems like quick relief from many of these problems. In fact, many women report that relief is one of the main emotions they experience immediately after the abortion. Unfortunately, abortion only removes the child from the situation; it does not fix the underlying issues of poverty, abuse, family problems, or relational troubles. The woman is still in the same circumstances she was in before she became pregnant. Over time, the relief fades, and for a large number of women, feelings of guilt, regret, and loss take its place.
Many of the women who struggle with negative emotional or mental effects after an abortion will not immediately be able to recognize the trauma of abortion as the cause of their problems, because the outward symptoms may seem totally unconnected to the abortion. Women struggling with post-abortion emotional trauma and stress have a significantly higher rate of suicide attempts. In fact, studies in Scandinavia, Britain, and the United states found that women who have had an abortion may have anywhere from 2 – 6 times greater risk of suicide than women who have carried their babies to term. A long-term study in New Zealand found that women who have had an abortion are more likely to have problems with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence (aggressor and victim), and depression. Women who have had abortion often experience nightmares or flashbacks about the abortion, or about their babies. They may have trouble bonding with later children, or on the other hand become overprotective of children born after their abortion experience.
These problems stem from guilt, anger, regret, and grief caused by a woman’s abortion experience. The symptoms of post-abortion trauma may not manifest themselves until years later. Often they are triggered by a change in life, such as the birth of a later child, which brings back memories of the abortion. If these underlying issues are not dealt with, the cycle of emotional and mental distress will continue, and will have an effect not only on the woman, but on her children, husband, and her other relationships.
Post-abortion trauma is healed when a woman is supported by a loving group of people who can help her work through the events and feelings surrounding her abortion, help her deal with the current issues that may be resulting from her feelings about her abortion, and helping her find forgiveness from herself, her family, and most importantly from God. Professional counselors and supportive family and friends can be part of the healing process, but most women who are seeking healing from the wounds of abortion find the most help and support comes from sharing their stories and struggles with other women who have also experienced an abortion. These groups are understanding, compassionate, and are equipped to provide emotional and spiritual support and guidance.
If you are dealing with the aftermath of an abortion, whether it was a month ago or 20 years ago, healing and hope are possible! Your local pregnancy resource center can help you find a post-abortion healing group. Please do not delay your opportunity for healing out of fear or shame. God is ready and waiting to forgive and heal you, and there are others out there who know what you’ve gone through and would love to walk through the healing process with you.
If you are in the Chaffee County, Colorado area, the Salida Pregnancy and Family Center would like to invite you to join our Post-Abortion Healing Group, Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:00 beginning January 8th, 2015. You can call the Center at (719) 539-7436. If you are not in our area, you can find a pregnancy resource center in your area by searching Heartbeat International’s directory at http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory .