Post-Abortion Syndrome

POST-ABORTION SYNDROME

Abortion affects more than 2,360 (1) women every single day. The psychological and physical repercussions of the decision to abort may not be immediately visible. However, weeks, months, and even years later, many women come to terms with the myriad of problems that arise in the aftermath of induced, elective abortion.

While Planned Parenthood and other abortion vendors and advocates do not recognize Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) as a valid condition, Post-Abortion Syndrome (or “After Abortion Grief”) has been recognized by many psychologists and doctors. The honesty of these medical professionals helps validate the negative ramifications thousands of women feel  after having an abortion.

Click here for tips on how to talk to a post-abortive friend. 

The Research
  • Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after an individual has suffered an event so stressful and so traumatic that this person is unable to cope with this experience in a normal manner. Following a traumatic event, sufferers of PTSD are unable to simply resume their lives where they had left off. Instead, they experience a variety of reactions that do not go away merely with the passage of time. The symptoms of PTSD (including PAS) vary from case to case, and sometimes, these reactions may not arise until years after the event. Nonetheless, this is a serious condition that needs to acknowledged and treated in order for the person to recover and resume a normal life.
  • Researchers investigating post-abortion reactions report only one positive emotion: relief. This emotion is understandable- especially in light of the high degree of pressure women facing unplanned pregnancies feel to “get it over with.”(2) After these temporary feelings of relief, the woman may enter a period which psychiatrists identify as “paralysis,” or post-abortion “numbness.” (3) Like shell-shocked soldiers, these post-abortive women are unable to express or even feel their own emotions. Their focus is primarily on having survived the ordeal, and they may be (at least temporarily) out of touch with their feelings.
  • Studies within the first few weeks after the abortion have found that between 40 and 60 percent of the women questioned reported at least some negative reactions. (5) In one study of 500 post-abortive women, researchers found that 50 percent expressed negative feelings, and up to 10 percent were classified as having developed “serious psychiatric complications.” (7)
  • One study suggests that 33 percent of post-abortive women develop an intense longing to become pregnant again in order to “make up” for the lost pregnancy. 18 percent of these women succeed within one year of the abortion. (4, 6, 7) Unfortunately, many women who succeed at obtaining their “wanted” replacement pregnancies discover that the same problems which pressured them into having their first abortion still exist, and so they end up feeling “forced” into an abortion a second time, ultimately increasing chances of infertility and future miscarriage(s).
Signs of Post-Abortion Syndrome

According to Abortion Recovery Internationalsome common symptoms of After Abortion Grief/Post-Abortion Syndrome are:

  • initial relief that later subsides
  • emotional numbness
  • depression
  • feelings of regret or guilt
  • relationship difficulties
  • anxiety attacks
  • increase in alcohol or drug use
  • eating disorders
  • suicidal thoughts
  • low self esteem
  • difficulty with intimacy
  • flashbacks, dreams, or nightmares
  • feelings of helplessness/hopelessness
  • anger at partner and family
  • frustration with friends and co-workers

Visit our Abortion Risks page for more on the physical & psychological dangers of induced abortion. 

Find Help

Do you know someone who is suffering from after abortion grief? Or maybe you would like to talk to someone about your abortion? There is help and support available for you. Please go to our Pregnant on Campus After Abortion Support & Counseling page.

Resources are also listed on our Pregnant on Campus National Resources page under the Counseling section.

Sources
  1. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states
  2. Francke. (1978) The Ambivalence of Abortion. New York: Random House.
  3. Kent, et.al. (Sept. 1977). Emotional Sequelae of Therapeutic Abortion: A Comparative Study. Presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychiatric Association at Saskatoon.
  4. Pare & Raven, (1970). Follow-up of Patients Referred for Termination of Pregnancy. The Lancet, vol.1,pp. 635-638.
  5. Reardon. (1987). Aborted Women-Silent No More. Chicago: Loyola University Press.
  6. Reardon. (1987) Criteria for the Identification of High Risk Abortion Patients: Analysis of An In-Depth Survey of 100 Aborted Women. Presented at the 1987 Paper Session of the Association for Interdisciplinary Research, Denver.
  7. Wallerstein,et.al. (1972). Psychosocial Sequelae of Therapeutic Abortion in Young Unmarried Women. Archives of General Psychiatry, vol.27.