Many women who have abortions are extremely uneasy about their decision. At some level, they know and feel strongly that, “This is my baby! I will do what I need to do in order to protect and nurture this child.”
But too often, the woman’s circumstances conspire to make her think, “This is not a good time to have a baby! Isn’t abortion legal and easy? It will be as if it never happened. It’s the only solution to this mess.”
Women who choose abortion are going against deeply seated instincts, and this is why they feel guilty afterward. It doesn’t seem to matter if they have been raised in religious homes or not, the act of aborting their own children can leave them with feelings of guilt and anxiety. This condition is called Post-Abortion Syndrome.
Symptoms of Post-Abortion Syndrome
- Impacted grieving: This reflects an inability to complete the grieving process
- Self-destructive tendencies such as eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and substance abuse
- Feelings of isolation
- Feelings of confusion and difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety attacks
- Outbursts of rage or anger
- Aggressive behavior
- Nightmares or sleeping disorders
- Recurrent and intrusive thoughts about the abortion or the aborted child
- Flashbacks to the abortion experience
- Feelings of intense grief or depression on the date of the abortion or the due date of the aborted pregnancy
- Repression or denial about thoughts or feelings dealing with the abortion
- Efforts to avoid activities or situations that remind the woman of the pregnancy or abortion
- Withdrawal or estrangement from others
- Inability to maintain loving or trusting relationships
- A sense of hopelessness or futility about the future
- Diminished interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Suicidal thoughts or acts
A recent report further confirms that women who have abortions show higher rates of later mental health problems, including depression, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors. Prof. David M. Fergusson, who issued the report, is the director of the Christchurch (New Zealand) Health and Development study, a project that has tracked 500 women from birth to 25 years of age.
Fergusson, who is pro-choice, had set out to prove that mental health problems occurring after abortion could be linked back to similar problems before abortion, but the results contradicted his hypothesis. The data showed that even when pre-existing conditions were considered, abortion was still clearly apparent as a strong contributing factor to mental health problems.
Fergusson said that while the results surprised him, he believes they are accurate because they “persist across a series of disorders and a series of ages….Abortion is a traumatic life event; that is, it involves loss, it involves grief, it involves difficulties. And the trauma may, in fact, predispose people to having mental illness.”
Abortion is a permanent decision. Once you have an abortion, you can never take it back.
If you are experiencing an untimely pregnancy and need help, click here to find a list of crisis pregnancy centers in Rhode Island, or call 1-800-395-HELP.