How Men and Women Suffer After an Abortion
About the sources: This post draws heavily on the work of noted post-abortion counsellor, Anne Lastman, specifically from her articles posted on my old website, here and here. A full list of references to research papers is included at the end of the original articles. Personal testimonies included as quotations are from a recent study by Priscilla Coleman et al, which reinforces previous research about abortion’s devastating effects on men and women. Information about the impact of abortion on men is taken from the MAN [Men and Abortion Network] website.
Just When You Thought Everyone Knew About Abortion
One of the traps involved in focusing on a particular human rights abuse, such as abortion, is the tendency to forget that people outside our community aren’t as familiar with the relevant facts and issues as those within the community. This was brought home to me recently through social media, when someone suggested, quite seriously, that all pro-abortion feminists should be sterilised.
The thought was quite shocking to me: forced sterilisation is something that belongs to the culture of death – not of life. But the comment served to remind me that there are quite a few pro-life people who are unfamiliar both with the psyche of the aborting mother and with the profound effects an abortion has on her afterwards.
Similarly, during a recent conference, two pastors confided to me that they were unaware of the severity of the consequences that an abortion has on the parents involved. They simply had not been exposed to the information, although they knew abortion was immoral and that it harmed women.
All this has prompted me to write the following article, which to some pro-lifers may seem basic, but which I hope will help others in their work.
Some stats and facts about the effects of abortion.
- Between 60 and 80% of post-abortive women suffer negative emotional effects, with around 10% experiencing serious consequences which need psychiatric attention.
A sense of shame and regret have stayed with me ever since my abortion. It is tempered by forgiveness and faith in God’s mercy and grace, but it is still there after all these years. I miss my lost children and regret that my living children were robbed of their siblings through abortion. My husband who did not participate in any way with my abortion or any other abortions has suffered anger and grief because of my abortion. He struggles to forgive those who coerced my abortion.
- Rates of depression are very high: 100% in one recent study.
I was very depressed for years after the abortion. I believe that the depression contributed to me losing a lucrative pharmaceutical job. I did not work for 2 years after the abortion and I did not have the energy to do much of anything. It took me about 3 years to just get motivated to start living somewhat of a fulfilling life again. During these three years, I started living with my boyfriend, who is now my fiancé. I am not proud of my living situation and believe it is attributed to a lack of self-confidence due to the abortion.
- Suicide is more common in women after abortion than in the general population.
Two attempted suicides resulting from the abortion clinic staff dismissing my request for help for post-abortive regret. Prior to the abortion, clinic staff said I could stop by the office anytime for free counseling after the abortion. I showed up a week later for a follow up and to see a counselor for abortion regret but my feelings of regret and depression were dismissed and I was told I would eventually get over it. I did not even see a doctor during the follow up. I was just asked if I had felt sick or feverish after the abortion. Nobody took vital signs and the counselor I was supposed to see did not work Saturdays. When I scheduled the appointment I was told a counselor was on staff all the time to help women. It was a lie.
- Substance abuse is very common in post-abortive women,
I died with every abortion. I became very angry, depressed, and ended up becoming a drug addict and an alcoholic.
- Although the link is still controversial (due to the great influence of the abortion industry) women are around 30% more likely to develop breast cancer after an abortion than other women. If there is a family history, then that risk increases to 80%. Many pro-life people have seen the movie, Hush. This was made by a pro-abortion woman, who was interested in finding out the truth about the ABC link. [Abortion-Breast Cancer link.] Abortion advocates who were interviewed in the movie refused to acknowledge overwhelming scientific data which confirms the link, and have done their utmost to discredit Hush and its makers since its release.
- Women find it hard to bond with subsequent children after an abortion, which is a factor in many cases of child abuse. This completely shatters the myth that abortion prevents child abuse.
- Opportunities for healing and grief are limited because most clinicians fail to acknowledge the negative impact of abortion on their patients.
- There is a tendency among post-abortive women to have repeat abortions. This phenomenon has been coined, ‘invisible loyalty’ and may arise from the need to try and control a traumatic experience by repeating it. The situation is exacerbated by the promiscuity that often follows an abortion, paired with excess drug and alcohol use.
This means it is very important for women to receive good post-abortion counselling after their first abortion, which greatly decreases their chances of aborting subsequent children.
The impact of abortion on men is just beginning to be acknowledged.
- Men suffer too – in many of the ways that post-abortive women do: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, conflict of conscience, longing for the lost child, grief, hopelessness and guilt. This article from the MAN website tabulates the results of 53 studies on the effect abortion has on men. Overwhelmingly, the studies found that, although men may initially feel relieved and positive about an abortion decision, after a period of time, these feelings give way to extremely negative emotions and regret.
- Although a commonly cited scenario is that of the baby’s father pressuring its mother to abort, men often are unwilling victims of an abortion decision. Sometimes a baby’s father isn’t even aware of the pregnancy until after the abortion. In other cases, fathers plead with their partners not to abort, but are unsuccessful at changing her mind.
- Men often repress their opinions and desires about a pregnancy due to the false idea of abortion being a woman’s choice. A lack of support for a child can be misconstrued by the woman to mean support for an abortion.
Insights from the Coleman Study
Conclusions from the Coleman study, from which the quotes (above) were taken are startling. The rhetoric heard so vocally from abortion advocates, that of ‘choice’, ‘equality’, and ’empowerment’ is noticeably absent, replaced instead by words of deep regret, mental anguish, emotional devastation:
Two simple open-ended questions were posed to just under 1,000 women in an online survey and the responses were far from simple, echoing themes that are not reflective of contemporary feminist rhetoric. Women generally did not speak of empowerment, the ability to control their reproductive destinies, liberation from abusive partners, the need for abortion in order to be competitive in the work place, etc. To the contrary, in response to the inquiry regarding any positives that emerged, many women (nearly 32%) expressed no personal benefits of the experience. Scores of others reported spiritual growth, involvement in pro-life efforts, and reaching out to other women who were considering the procedure or had obtained an abortion. Such positives were not immediately realized in most cases, but rather arose from excruciating psychological distress and suffering over many years, even decades.
When asked about the most significant negatives associated with abortion, many women voiced deep feelings of loss, existential concerns, and reduced quality of life, with heart-wrenching clarity. For many women, the abortion experience became a pivotal point in their lives, impacting their self-image, their personality, and their connectivity to others. Specific commonly experienced negatives included living with having ended a life, regret, shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, negative self-appraisals, and self-destructive behaviors. At the extreme, 49 women voiced a lack of desire to continue living based on the reality of their choice and the heartache that ensued. The vast majority of women did not cite only one or two negative outcomes, but instead described a complex constellation of adverse consequences, often centered on the life lost. Many women wrote about pressure from others and feeling as if they had no choice at the time; yet the majority seemed to assume responsibility for their decision as opposed to blaming others. Coming to terms with the irreversibility of an abortion decision and integrating the choice into one’s understanding of self were viewed as necessary by a significant proportion of the respondents in order to continue their lives in a positive direction. For most of these women, peace and relief from a host of negative effects only arrived once they felt they had received divine forgiveness.
Steve Mosher, of the Population Research Institute observes:
“Ignoring these sobering facts, the so-called pro-choice movement continues to treat abortion as a panacea for all of the ills that accompany a hypersexualized society. They turn a blind eye to those who not only sexually exploit women but then also coerce women into an abortion that will leave her spirit wounded and in pain.”
Sweeping the Truth Under the Carpet
While it’s not unusual for pro-life counsellors and researchers to acknowledge the negative effects of abortion, the topic does sometimes crop up in mainstream, pro-abortion media. This article, in the Daily Mail UK, describes a study which suggests that abortion trauma can last for years after the event. In the article, this sentiment is echoed by a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. But typically, representatives of pro-abortion organisations fail to acknowledge the problem, and gave this comment:
“There is no evidence to suggest that abortion directly causes psychological trauma.
Quite a remarkable statement, given that, in addition to the vast amount of research to the contrary, there have been several cases of out-of-court settlements given to women who suffered after their abortions – both from emotional problems and from breast cancer. [Read more here.]In fact, the late Charles Francis, QC, who represented plaintiffs in some of the Australian cases said that
‘ … pregnancy counselling services would be derelict in their duty if they did not warn women of their increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and psychological trauma following abortion.’
Where Sin Abounds, Grace Abounds Even More
As Christians, we often wonder why God allows abortion to continue. But as with any great scourge on society, abortion is simply a consequence of sin; of our selfishness, of our failure to respect life, and of our inability to put God first in our lives. Good can come from even this great evil, and thanks to His mercy, post-abortive men and women can find hope and healing in Christ.
The one positive is that it has brought me to my end and brought me to my knees before God. He has drawn me to him through His endless forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I think He could have shown me those same things had I chosen another path, but this is how I came to Him, not as a Christian, because I already was one, but as one who really knows Him now.
The Final Word, from a Post-Abortive Mother
The two pictures above were taken by pro-life group, Created Equal, at the recent Women’s March in Washington DC. Created Equal is committed to the use of abortion victim imagery as a means of exposing the horrible reality of abortion. A friend made the following comments when she saw the pictures:
Could you imagine if there was a crowd of women
The true women who know the pain of abortion
They would put those little girls who really have no idea of pain after an abortion
Those that say they fight for all women
No you don’t fight for all women
You don’t fight for females in the womb
And you don’t fight for women after an abortion
You are not for the real women
You are about self – your self – with no understanding, no knowledge. You’re blinded by your lack of compassion, mercy, Grace
You’re fooled by many
If only you sat with those that would share their heart
Their journey, their story
It all comes to this at the end of it all
You have to stand at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness comes from He who died for the sins of the world
So that they would have eternal life in the Father.
Abortion in or out of the womb is murder
No different than any other murder
As we learn more, it becomes the duty of every pro-life person to assure repentant parents that we are there to help them carry the burden of their abortions without judgement. Let’s do our utmost to share the truth about abortion, about its immorality, about its harmful effects on mothers, fathers and families. We must all look forward in hope to the day when every child is wanted, and abortion has become unthinkable.
Editor, The Freedoms Project
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