When a woman has an unplanned pregnancy, she may experience fear, hopelessness, and even panic. Often she feels pressure from the father of the baby, her parents, family members, friends, the doctor, etc., to choose abortion. She may also feel pressure from her life circumstances: what about her job, her education, her finances?
A woman may choose abortion to solve the problems she anticipates. Abortion is rarely an easy or casual choice. Afterward, she may feel relieved that her problems are solved. However, the act meant to be a solution often produces its own agony. Many women feel their abortion negatively affected them emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually.
Post-abortion distress is the damaging emotional/psychological symptoms and destructive behavior changes associated with a past abortion.
The following is a list of the most common emotional/psychological symptoms and behavioral changes. A woman may experience one or more of these symptoms after an abortion. The symptoms may surface immediately following the abortion or months, even years, later. Some women have spent decades living with symptoms of post-abortion distress. Women who are experiencing post-abortion distress need healing and support.
- Unable to “forgive herself”
- Emotionally numb
- Feels degraded/debased
- Fears punishment
- Feels exploited
- Feels rejected
- Fears/dreams about losing a child
- Flashbacks and/or nightmares
- Fears another pregnancy or infertility
- Feels inferior
- Fears failure
- Sleep disturbances
- Crying spells
- Divides times into “before” and “after” the abortion
- Avoids baby reminders
- Reduced motivation
- Loss of normal sources of pleasure
- Self-punishing and/or self-degrading behavior
- Develops eating disorders
- Alcohol and/or drug abuse
- Suicidal impulses
- Promiscuity or frigidity
- Loss of interest in sex
- Marital stress
- Abusive/tolerates abusive relationships
- Withdraws from others
- Difficulty with all types of intimacy
- Changes in relationships
- Wants replacement/atonement child
- Damaged mother/child relationship
- Over-protective of living children
- Fails to bond with subsequent children
- Damaged feminine concept
- Anniversary/Due date reaction
Piedmont Women’s Center offers a post-abortion support group for women. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are not alone. Many women with an abortion in their past experience some level of post-abortion distress in their lifetime.