A new study of post-abortive women across the United States found that women suffer from long-term negative emotions after aborting their unborn babies.
The research was based on an anonymous online survey of 987 women who contacted a crisis pregnancy center for post-abortion care. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons published the study in its Winter 2017 edition.
Led by Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University, the researchers asked women about the “most significant positive and negative aspects” of their abortions.
“… their responses were far from simple, echoing themes that are not reflective of contemporary feminist rhetoric,” the researchers wrote. “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 workplace, etc.
“To the contrary, … many women 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.”
Generally, women reported good psychological health prior to their first abortion. Afterward, however, a significant number of women sought professional mental health services (67.5 percent compared to 13 percent prior to the abortion), and used prescription drugs for their psychological health (51 percent compared to 6.6 percent prior).
Many women also faced strong societal pressure to abort their unborn babies, even though many said they remained unsure about their abortion up through the day of the procedure.
According to the study, “58.3% of the women reported aborting to make others happy, 73.8% disagreed that their decision to abort was entirely free from even subtle pressure from others to abort, 28.4% aborted out of fear of losing their partner if they did not abort.”
When asked about the most significant positives of their abortion, 31.6 percent of women said there were none, and another 22 percent did not answer the question.
The most significant negative reported was that they took a life/loss of a life or lives, at 23.7 percent. Others reported depression, guilt, self-hatred, addictions, self-destructive behaviors, anxiety and suicidal thoughts/tendencies.
“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 researchers wrote. “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.”
When asked about positive aspects of their abortions, many women said the “excruciating pain” that they went through gave them a desire to help other women make better choices for themselves and their unborn babies. They fulfilled this by volunteering at pregnancy centers and pro-life groups, sharing their abortion stories publicly and helping other post-abortive women heal.
Others said their abortions deepened their spiritual lives.
“The one positive is that it has brought me to my end and brought me to my knees before God” was a common theme among the women.
The study included women who ranged in age from their 20s to 70s. Most women reported having one abortion; the largest number reported was nine abortions.
The study was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 22 Number 4 Winter 2017 113.