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Emotional Complications from Abortion

The emotional complications from abortion are a result of the lack of counselling for women facing an unwanted pregnancy.

Many women faced with an unwanted pregnancy may view abortion as their only solution. They may lack moral and practical support from their family and friends. Statistics indicated that women who have had abortions were encouraged to do so by boyfriends or parents. Often the woman, and those who help her make a decision, aren’t aware of the medical and psycho-social ramifications of abortion.

Guilt

Because she has violated her own moral code, she may feel wicked.

Depression

Severe, prolonged depression can cause hopelessness and thoughts of suicide.

Psychological "numbingquot"

Post-abortive women often resort to drugs or alcohol to help block their abortions from their thoughts.

Eating Disorders

Studies show an unusually high rate of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders among women who have aborted.

Reliving the Abortion

She may experience flashbacks, nightmares or become obsessed with babies.

Anniversary Syndrome

She may exhibit symptoms near the anniversary of the abortion or the due date of the aborted baby. She may look at children about the age her child would be and try to imagine what hers would look like.

Preoccupied with Becoming Pregnancy Again

A large percentage of women become pregnant again within a year of their abortion and see the child as an “atonement baby.”

Anxiety Over Fertility

Some fear they will never become pregnant again or that God will give them a deformed child as punishment. Caring support should be extended to a woman who has been traumatized by abortion. Listening to her is perhaps the most important way to help.

For further reading on post abortion syndrome read , Help for the Post-abortion Woman by Teri and Paul Reisser (Zondervan).This material adapted from The Standard , with permission. 

The Inadequacy of Abortion Counselling

In a major study (1) of 252 women who experienced post-abortion problems:

85% believe they were misinformed or denied relevant information during their counselling.
  • 64% report that when they asked questions, their questions were not thoroughly answered, were evaded, or their concerns were trivialized. Only 13% felt encouraged to ask questions.
  • 76% complain that the description of the abortion procedure was inadequate, or “watered down,” especially with regard to the presence of pain during the procedure.
90% received no counselling about the biological nature of their fetus's stage of development.
  • Only 4% felt well informed about the abortion procedure and fetal development prior to seeking an abortion.
  • 83% describe themselves as having no knowledge about the abortion procedure of fetal development prior to entering the abortion clinic.
81% received little or no information about potential risks. Only 8% heard any significant mention of risks.
  • 74% did not receive any consultation with their doctor.
  • 66% believe their abortion counselling was strongly biased toward leading them to choose abortion.
51% did not feel free in making their decision but felt pressured by others, often by the abortion counsellor.
  • 81% stated they probably would have continued their pregnancies under better circumstances, such as might occur if given access to emotional support and aid. In retrospect, 90 percent of women who suffer post-abortion trauma complain that they did not receive enough information at the clinics on which to base an informed choice.

Post Abortion Syndrome

In her study of post abortion syndrome, Dr. Anne Catherine Speckhard of the University of Minnesota found the following long-term manifestations 5 to 10 years after the abortion. (15)

  • 81% had a preoccupation with the aborted child
  • 73% had flashbacks of the abortion experience
  • 69% were sexually inhibited
  • 65% had thoughts of suicide
  • 61% increased their use of alcohol
  • 54% had nightmares related to the abortion
  • 23% had hallucinations related to the abortion

More to think about...

References

10. Kent et al., Emotional sequelae of elective abortion, B.C. Med. J. , 20, 4, 1978.

11. Mall, D. & Watts, W.F., The Psychological Aspects of Abortion , Washington DC: Univ. Pub. of America, 1979.

12. Parthun, M.L. Post-abortion mourning: The hidden grief. In Care for the Dying & Bereaved , I. Gentles (Ed.), Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1982.

13. Coping with a miscarriage, Parents , (Nov. 1980), p. 58.

14. Lehner, U.C. Japanese ceremonies show private doubts over use of abortion. Wall Street Journal , (Jan. 6, 1983).

15. Anne Speckhard. Psycho-Social Stress Following Abortion. Kansas City, Missouri: Sheed and Ward, 1987. 134 pages. Reviewed by Gary Crum, Ph.D., on page 44 of the October 1988 issue of ALL About Issues. This book analyzes the results of 30 in-depth interviews of women who have had abortions and compiles the results to arrive at a summary of all of the symptoms of post-abortion syndrome.