Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Hefty Mental Cost of Abortion

Having an abortion is a decision that carries with it a number of physical, mental and emotional consequences that remain generally unpublicized in the media. While pro-choice advocates make arguments regarding a “woman's right to choose” they tend to ignore the fact that, in addition to the dead child the process results in, the women who undergo the procedure can develop any number of mental issues afterward as the weight of their act dawns on them. As even students getting their online health care degrees will say, keeping your lifestyle intact and saving money on child can't compare to a clean conscience and a clean bill of mental health.

The following story (a summary of a case study) illustrates the mental cost that some women experience after an abortion. Sally got pregnant at age 18 after she moved in with her boyfriend. She turned to her friends and family who encouraged her to get an abortion because having a baby at such a young age would prevent her from many of the things that she wanted to do with her life. When Sally was in her sixth month of pregnancy she went to a clinic to have a surgical abortion. While there wasn't much physical pain, the emotional pain lasted much longer. She couldn't believe that she had just given birth to her own dead baby.

After Sally and her boyfriend married at age 20, she conceived for the second time but because of the tumultuous status of their relationship, she had a second abortion. Sally was relieved at first that she wouldn't have to raise the child but when she was watching television one day, she watched as an abortion was performed and the image immediately haunted her. It finally hit Sally that the babies she had aborted were actually living humans and she spent the next several years dealing with the pain of her realization. Looking back, Sally realized that her abortion led her to a dangerous lifestyle and a series of unstable relationships. After her divorce, she began to sleep around with men who she didn't know and began using drugs and alcohol. Sally felt that by aborting her baby, a part of her also died.

This mental strain is not uncommon among women who have abortions. It often takes women several years to come to the realization that they have killed their own flesh and blood, and some may be married and have children when they come to realize the lasting impact the decision has had on them. This is why it's so important for women considering abortions to turn to their community, friends and family for help; otherwise they might rush into a faulty decision, the long-term effects of which, even in only a worldly sense, far outweigh any paltry benefits that might tempt them.

An article from the BBC examines the mental anguish that can be caused by abortion and found that an abortion can cause up to five years of grief on average. The article also references a University of Oslo study, which looked at a total of 120 women, 40 of which had a miscarriage and 80 of which had abortions. The study found that after miscarriage, women experienced mental pain for up to six months after the loss of their baby while the women who had abortions had mental pain for a substantially longer period of time. Likewise, only 2.6 percent of women who had a miscarriage were still experiencing mental distress after two years, whereas 20 percent of the abortion group were experiencing mental stress after two years. The study also found that the abortion group had to try hard not to think about the abortion.

Even the pro-choice support group Exhale tells women that they may feel grief after an abortion, and that it's “normal.” They claim that with proper counseling women can overcome the feelings of grief they receive after ending their child's unborn life. Of course, the only sure way to avoid this crisis of conscience is to never have the abortion in the first place, but that's not what they like to focus on.

In fact, many women who have abortions do not seek post-abortion counseling to deal with the lasting regrets. An article titled "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" in the New York Times explains how Rhonda Arias, now post-aborting counselor, went through with her own abortion and realized that much of the pain she dealt with stemmed from not receiving counseling after the procedure. After having her first abortion, she felt that she had made the wrong decision and felt an extreme sense of guilt. Her second abortion was six years later and left her with similar scars. Following her second abortion, Arias became very depressed and began to drink and abuse drugs. She attempted suicide and went on to have a third and fourth abortion before, as she puts it, she had a revelation from God. Arias then started her own abortion recovery ministry to help women struggling with the mental pain of abortions and convince others to avoid the same self-destructive path she chose.

The repercussions of having an abortion can manifest themselves in different ways for different women. Women can feel anything from unspecific guilt or loss to mental anguish once they realize the scope of their deed. Many women belatedly realize that they should have had the baby and put it up for adoption rather than ending its life. These are all feelings and emotions that are normal following an abortion, a woman will never forget that they ended their child's life before it was born. Too bad more women don't know that beforehand.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Patricia for your essay. Abortion causes death and it causes pain physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ...