“Will this affect me emotionally or psychologically?” I asked the abortion clinic worker before my abortion.
With a smile, she proclaimed, “Oh no. Abortion will make your life better! It’s just a blob of tissue. You have the rest of your life to have children!”
By asking the question, I had some idea that I could regret my abortion decision. Yet my teenage mind was comforted by the biased assurances of a “medical” professional who offered no medical specifics about the procedure.
Abortion impacts a woman’s body, soul and mind. The simple fact that she will rarely share this truth with others confirms that abortion often has unseen consequences.
Abortion is also a difficult truth to harbor in a heart. The silent reverie of the 1 in 3 post-abortive American women doesn’t mean they had an awesome procedure. Quite to the contrary, post-abortive stillness likely outlines a deeper wounding that many cannot put into words.
While I initially felt relief after my abortion, that emotion was temporary. It took eleven years to finally realize the four separate ways I had been wounded by this all too common medical procedure.
Abortion decisions are often made in confusion, with emotional trauma and panic, after a bombardment of opinions from friends, family and significant others. The emotional distress can be deepened by crossing abortion clinic picket lines which often involves hearing disparaging messages from those protesting this choice.
The procedure used – surgical or medication – has a finer emotional toll depending on the stage of pregnancy and the pain involved. Many surgical procedures are traumatically performed without anesthesia due to the added risks and expense to the patient. Medication abortion allows the woman to go home and lose her child, often alone.
As a woman matures, she often looks at her abortion as a deep mistake. She can grieve her child for the rest of her life. Her next pregnancy experience can trigger additional psychological damage. It is difficult to look into the face of a newborn and experience motherhood wonderment and not be continually reminded of the child you aborted.
For those who use medication abortion, the psychological impact can be harsher. Medication procedures end – usually after severe cramping and bleeding – with a very human-looking embryo being miscarried. Visualizing the arms, legs and head of a recently aborted child can result in lifelong depression. Flushing that child down the toilet in panic can mean every time a woman goes to the bathroom, she is reminded of her loss.
Even those who accompany the woman to the clinic may endure an emotional impact from both the protesters as well as the sounds emanating from procedure rooms. It is very difficult to sit in a waiting room and listen to women screaming in pain and not attempt to help relieve their distress.
More religious than secular women choose abortion. Spiritually sensitive souls often go against their own heart’s leading in choosing abortion. It’s easy to go against a moral code when you consider it will spare your family any shame and scandal in society and religious circles.
For those that love God when they abort, many feel set apart from Him afterwards. These hearts may then avoid religious support circles out of fear of potential rejection. The denying of spiritual comfort is often due to shame and guilt, which only enhances the spiritual impact.
At a deeper spiritual level, a woman’s genetic code seems to include an internal drive to defend her young at all cost. By aborting, that genetic code is short circuited.
Even when a woman’s body is damaged beyond repair by a botched abortion, abortionists are rarely sued due to the woman’s desire to keep this truth confidential. So the world may never know the depths of the physical impact of abortion.
Politics has silenced medical research on the physical consequences of abortion. Clinics are rarely required to outline the physical risks but that does not mean they don’t exist. Studies outlining the impact of breast cancer and infertility after abortion are branded as “pro-life propaganda” and discounted.
You may never know if abortion’s 1 in 3 women are listening when you speak about abortion. Please always offer compassionate statements to post-abortive listeners in discussing this topic in general conversation.
If someone confesses to a past abortion, please remember the words of the Apostle Paul from Galatians 6:1-3 – Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
Sydna Masse is the author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, and the President and Founder of Ramah International.