Study Shows Traumatic Reactions to Abortion More Common for Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 29, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study Shows Traumatic Reactions to Abortion More Common for Women Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 29, 2004

Springfield, IL ( — A new study shows that women have traumatic reactions to an abortion more frequently than previously thought, according to an article published in the Medical Science Monitor. They also experience significantly more negative reactions to an abortion than positive ones.

The study focused on research of abortions obtained by hundreds of American and Russian women who had abortions. Women were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences.

The results showed that 65 percent of women who had abortions experienced multiple post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

According to the study, some 14 percent of women having abortions experienced all the symptoms necessary to be clinically diagnosed as having PTSD.

Priscilla Coleman, a researcher at Bowling Green State University, David Reardon, Ph.D., of the Elliot Institute, and clinical psychologist Dr. Vincent Rue were three of the co-authors of the study.

"This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different countries," Dr. Rue explained. "It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions."

American women were more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their Abortions while Russian women were more likely to be confused about the direction of their lives as a result.

Both sets of women were more likely to experience a negative reaction from their abortion if they had feelings against abortion prior to the procedure, if they were pressured to have an abortion, had deeply-felt religious views, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion.

Rue, who heads the Institute for Pregnancy Loss said the results "will help mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological complications of abortion."

As abortion is used frequently as a method of birth control, it comes as no surprise to some that 64 percent of American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian women.

Some 25 percent of women in the U.S. said they received adequate counseling before the abortion compared to 64 percent of the Russian women.

Both sets of women reported few positive reactions to their abortions.

The most commonly felt positive experience was relief, but only 7 percent of Russian women and 14 percent of American women experienced relief after their abortions.

American women were more likely to attribute to their abortion subsequent thoughts of suicide (36 percent), increased use of drugs or alcohol (27 percent), sexual problems (24 percent), relationship problems (27 percent), guilt (78 percent), and an inability to forgive themselves (62 percent).

Some two percent of America women who have abortions attribute admission to a psychiatric hospital to their abortions.

Citation: Rue VM, Coleman PK, Rue JJ, Reardon DC. Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women. Med Sci Monit, 2004 10(10): SR5-16.

The article can be downloaded free at

Related web sites:
Elliot Institute –