Imagine receiving a call from a survey company who asks, “Has anyone in your home experienced abortion?”

If you are post-abortive, would you answer affirmatively?  Likely not! Women are typically hesitant to reveal they have made this choice to friends and family, let alone answering truthfully to a complete stranger who made a random call to obtain survey information. As a result, there is little trusted information on the 1 in 3 American women who have experienced abortion.

Below are eight reasons why post-abortive demographic information is unattainable at a statistically significant level:

Changeable – How you feel today may not be the same as how you feel tomorrow.  Post-abortive people can be unpredictable and changeable. Additional abortions increase this impact as do other “life” events like a death of family member or loved one, infertility, subsequent pregnancies, etc. Many are afraid to address these memories, fearing doing so could lead to a suicide decision.  Others spend great amounts of emotional energy over the years working to forget they ever made such a choice.

Too Broad – Post abortive people comprise one third of all American women over EVERY possible demographic.  How a poor woman feels about her abortion can be vastly different to the emotions of wealthy women.  Women of faith may experience deeper levels of regret than secular women with no faith background.

Practiced Innocence — Numbness or emotional distancing can assist post-abortive women in remaining calm when abortion is discussed in their presence.  It’s typical for women to practice ways to remain tranquil when the abortion topic is discussed in their presence.  If they are rehearsing their silence, they will likely never reveal their truthful feelings on a survey instrument.

Recovery Impact — Some women initially cope well after abortion but later find themselves in great emotional upheaval over this choice.  Others who immediately are overwhelmed with regret and grief can attend an abortion recovery program and go on to live in peace. Those who have found healing present vastly different survey information than those who may not be struggling after abortion.

Impact of Abortion Procedure – Women who endure surgical abortions have vastly different experiences/emotions than those who utilize the medication option.  With medication abortions, women typically take a pill in a clinic and go home to take another pill later.  The second pill begins their abortion.   It can take 1-4 days for the lemon-sized placenta to be expelled. These women can then view a tiny human-looking child with defined features that does not resemble a “blob of tissue.”

During first trimester surgical procedures, women typically do not face the humanity of their deceased children.  Later term abortions can be far more traumatic.  Some actually give birth to a lifeless, fully developed human infant while others never see their departed children.  The resulting trauma from each abortion procedure can be starkly different as well as long-term reactions.

Cultural Impact –Since America is a nation of immigrants, it is a “melting pot” of cultures that have different perspectives on unplanned pregnancy and abortion.  First-generation Americans are more impacted by an outside culture than those whose ancestors have lived here for many years.  Within some cultures, the loss of virginity is a reason to expel or kill women, even if they have been raped.   These women literally abort to avoid being publicly murdered. Within Christian cultures, where the sanctity of life is embraced, women abort to avoid bringing shame or judgment on their families.

Research Methods – Current research methods (standardized surveys) are typically inadequate in uncovering deeply entrenched emotional reactions for this “difficult to discuss” experience.  Women are rarely truthful about their abortion on medical intake forms!  If they are withholding information regarding their health, they likely won’t be truthful on a generic survey form or with an interviewer who asks troubling questions.

Which Symptom to Study? – There is no agreement among researchers about which Abortion PTSD symptom (relief, depression, grieving, self-destructive behaviors, etc.) they should attempt to survey as it relates to abortion, nor what level of symptoms should be considered substantial.

Pregnancy centers are one of the few locations where women will discuss a past abortion experience, particularly if they are in a subsequent unplanned pregnancy.  While they may not outline their abortion on the intake forms, they typically are more honest when interviewed by a compassionate pregnancy center advocate where confidentiality and emotional understanding is assured.

If you have experienced abortion, understand you are not alone simply because there is no research to verify your pain.  An abortion recovery program can help you find God’s peace, outlined in Psalms 103:1-5Praise the Lord, my soul, who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Abortion Recovery Blog Sydna Masse

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