Abortion impacts a woman’s body, soul and mind. The simple fact that post-abortive women rarely share this truth with others confirms that abortion often has unseen consequences.
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 – or are afraid to – put into words.
While I initially felt relief after my abortion, that emotion was temporary. It took eleven years for me to finally understand the five ways I had been wounded by this all too common medical procedure.
Every pregnancy involves giving birth in some way when the child’s placenta detaches from a woman’s uterine lining. Natural miscarriage typically begins with a decrease of pregnancy symptoms. This leaves the woman feeling somewhat “different.” Her body is biologically aware that the pregnancy is ending as hormonal levels shift naturally.
Abortion ends a pregnancy artificially. When the placenta detaches after this procedure, the woman’s hormonal system is shocked to a certain extent. It can take time to adjust back to pre-pregnancy stages. This is why pregnancy tests after abortion continue to be positive for many weeks afterwards. This hormonal adjustment can result in postpartum depression, leaving the mother feeling overwhelmed, guilty, angry, or numb at the very least.1
A recent study of the International Journal of Epidemiology outlines a biological phenomenon known as microchimerism. Simply explained, during pregnancy, the mother and child exchange small quantities of cells. The ongoing cellular presence of this child in the mother’s body later in life is called microchimerism.
This cellular situation was discovered when researchers found male DNA in a woman who had never given birth. In questioning this woman after the Y chromosomes were discovered in her brain, they learned she had aborted a child. Researchers theorized that her aborted child must have been a boy and that some of his DNA remained in her body.
Simply put, the cells of unborn children remain in the bodies of their mothers – whether they are aborted or brought to birth. In my post-abortive heart, the scientific concept of microchimerism explained at a biological level why I could not forget the child I surrendered during an abortion in my teen years. Microchimerism means every mother has a biological connection with every child created in her womb at a cellular level.
Abortion decisions are often made in confusion, with emotional trauma and panic, after a bombardment of opinions from friends, family and significant others. 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 during their abortion procedure and not attempt to help relieve their distress.
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 become her own abortionist as she goes home to lose her child. When she physically views her lost child afterwards, turmoil often results.
As a woman matures, many look at their abortion as a mistake. She can grieve her child for the rest of her life. Her next pregnancy experience can trigger an additional psychological impact. 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 delivered. 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.
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.
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.
If you have experienced any of these burdens after your abortion, understand that healing is available. Reading the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, can help you understand how your abortion has impacted your life. Attending an abortion recovery group, available through local pregnancy centers, can be a very helpful step as well in resolving the burdens of abortion pain.
If you have never experienced an abortion, understand that many around you may have made this choice. When discussing abortion, please offer compassionate statements to post-abortive listeners. Statements like, “There is no sin that God cannot forgive,” offer the hope of redemption. You may be the one that God uses to help them discover His magnificent grace and mercy.
Sydna Masse is the author of the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, and the CEO and Founder of Ramah International.