Emotional & Psychological Impact
The emotional impact that is sometimes experienced by both men and women after the abortion experience, due to unresolved psychological, physical and spiritual aspects, may not appear all together. Nor will each woman or man possess all of them. Note these symptoms may appear immediately, as in hours, days, weeks or months ~ or may not surface for 5-30 years following the procedure. Symptoms are similar to those in any post-traumatic stress disorder and are listed below.
- Bouts of crying
- Inability to forgive yourself
- Intense grief / sadness
- Anger / rage
- Emotional numbness
- Sexual problems or promiscuity
- Eating disorders
- Lowered self esteem
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Nightmares and sleep disturbances
- Suicidal urges
- Difficulty with relationships
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Multiple abortions
- Pattern of repeat crisis pregnancy
- Discomfort around babies or pregnant women
- Fear / ambivalence of pregnancy
How Do I Know Where I Need Healing?
The questions in this section are based on the experiences of women who have had
abortions. In reading through these questions, be aware of any emotional or physical response
you may have and record them. Answering these questions honestly will put you in touch with
areas of your life that have been affected by your abortion(s).
1. Do you find yourself struggling to turn off the feelings connected to your abortion(s),
perhaps telling yourself over and over to forget about it?
2. When abortion is mentioned in public, do you find your body reacting physically, i.e.
tightened stomach muscles, clenched jaw or holding your breath?
3. Do you find yourself avoiding books, magazines and television programs that deal with the
subject of abortion? Do you change the subject in conversations that deal with the topic of
4. Are you affected by physical reminders of your abortion, i.e. babies, pregnant women, baby
clothes? Are you uncomfortable around children?
5. Are there certain times of the year you find yourself depressed, sick or accident prone, such
as the anniversary date of the abortion or the month of the would-be-birth date?
6. Are you resentful and unforgiving towards anyone for their involvement in your abortion(s),
i.e. parents, boyfriend, the abortionists, friends or husband?
7. Do you find yourself rationalizing why you are better off without that child in your life
8. Are you in a situation where you could find yourself faced with another unwanted
9. Did your attitude towards relationships change? Do you find yourself avoiding relationships
or becoming more dependent in them? Do you have difficulty with intimacy?
10. Following your experience, did your drug use or alcohol intake increase? Do you have any
11. Have you experienced periods of prolonged depression? Do you have suicidal thoughts?
12. Have you experienced any peculiar reactions, i.e. hearing your baby cry, nightmares,
flashbacks, or hallucinations relating to the abortion?
13. Have you felt a vague sort of emptiness leading to a deep sense of loss?
14. When choosing to share about your abortion(s), are you overcome with sorrow, anger or
15. Do you feel compelled to conceal your abortion(s) from certain people in your life?
16. Do you find yourself striving to make the career, education or relationships for which you
sacrificed your baby a success to prove it was worth it and the right choice?
17. If you have children now, do you smother them with your love or overprotect them? Are you
unable to bond with the child/children you have now?
18. If you do not have children, do you fear that you will never be able to have them? Do you
fear you may have suffered physical harm as a result of the abortion(s)?
19. Did you stop growing emotionally after your abortion? Do you find yourself repeating
20. Are you denying yourself anything to punish yourself? Do you struggle with eating
21. Is there anything good that has come from your abortion(s)? Do you think it is possible for
anything good to come from your abortion(s)?
22. Do you tend to look at your life in terms of "before" and "after" the abortion(s)? Has your
self esteem changed?
23. Have you found yourself preoccupied with the subject of death and dying? Preoccupied with
your aborted child?
24. Did your relationship with or concept of God change after your abortion(s)? Did it bring you
closer to God or turn you away from Him?
25. Are the memories of your abortion(s) more painful than the actual experience?
After finishing this questionnaire, you may be aware of other areas of your life that have
been affected by your abortion in a more personal way. If any of the above questions cut deeply
into your heart, you may benefit from and be ready for post-abortion healing.
From Women in Ramah: A Bible Study for Post-Abortion Syndrome by Linda Cochrane,
R.N., Christian Action Council., Post-Abortion Counseling and Education. 1986.
Abortion is a life-changing event. Pregnancy creates a very chemically complex condition.
Our bodies undergo tremendous hormonal changes and shifts. Abruptly ending a pregnancy leaves the body in a confused state.
Some professionals say hormones will settle quickly, but lived testimony tells us otherwise. Your body needs to heal. Abortion is a shock to both body and spirit.
It will take time for you to heal, so in the meantime, be gentle with yourself.
Get plenty of rest and follow any post-procedure instructions.
Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you are experiencing pain, fever, nausea or bleeding, or if something just doesn't "feel right."
A site for those early in the process of trying to make sense of an abortion experience, the interactive website www.AbortionChangesYou.com
is a helpful place to begin sorting out emotions and building a support network.
If you are a teen or young adult, you might find the book entitled 'No One Told Me I Could Cry" a helpful resource.
IF YOU ARE FEELING SUICIDAL, PLEASE CALL A SUICIDE HOTLINE OR CONTACT A FRIEND WHO CAN STAY WITH YOU UNTIL YOU CAN GET HELP!
If you have access to a computer please go to www.suicidehotlines.com
Or call the national suicide hotline for help at 1-800-784-2433 (I-800-SUICIDE)