Abortion, or termination of pregnancy accounts for about 30-50% of pregnancies. The term miscarriage however, refers to when an abortion occurs before the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. Miscarriages often occur naturally, without any external intervention. We say an abortion induced when the fetus is deliberately removed or expelled via surgery or medicine. The decision to induce abortion is a personal yet difficult one. And life after abortion can change. Here are some reasons behind such choice:
- Unwanted or unintended pregnancy
- Incomplete miscarriage threatening the mother’s life
- Any medical condition of mother that may prove hazardous to her health if pregnancy ensues
- The young age of the mother
- Any genetic disease of the fetus
Abortions are a controversial issue around the world. Proponents advocate it as a matter of individual rights while the opponents fight their case on what they say is moral and ethical grounds. Whatever the reasons are, an abortion can come with severe psychological and emotional strains for the mother. Life after abortion can result in change to women’s outlook because it takes a toll on her physical and mental well-being. How does that happen? Let’s find out.
A Woman’s Life After Abortion
About half of the pregnancies in the world are unintended. Out of these, half of the pregnancies end up in abortions. There could be many factors playing behind this vast number. Some women do not want to pursue pregnancy because they may find themselves unfit to take parent’s role. Lack of finances and partner support is another significant cause of why a woman seeks an abortion. This is particularly true in cases of teenage mothers and financially-burdened women.
Today, doctors use many ways to induce a safe abortion that does not compromise the mother’s health and safety. Abortions done due to medical reasons may present with less repercussions on the woman’s mental health undergoing the procedure. Why? Because the case is always discussed and evaluated, and the intent behind the procedure is straightforward. Sure the woman undergoes stress and strain, but post-abortion care is much easier than when the procedure is done for unwanted pregnancies.
A case of unwanted or unintended pregnancy also is evaluated and assessed by the doctor. The mother gets to make informed decisions. The problem with this kind of abortion is that women are already passing through emotional turmoil. Her pregnancy did not result from planning. Sometimes the woman is a victim of sexual abuse. In such a cases, the woman may be torn between getting an abortion and keeping the baby. She does not want the particular pregnancy because she may find no emotional attachment but is skeptical about going through abortion on moral grounds.
Most of the time, unwanted pregnancy cases result in unsafe abortions because of cultural pressures and taboos. This is true especially in developing countries where there is a lack of education and information and women are not at a position to make their own decisions with confidence.
Such cases of unsafe abortions always come with complications. Besides being dangerous and risky for the woman’s health, they can also create havoc for their mental health. Some women experience mood swings while some may go into depression. Hormonal changes are often behind emotional disturbances. The disturbed state might result from their feelings on the experience of abortion or pregnancy. Often it is a combination of both factors.
What’s The Correlation Between Abortion And Mental Health?
Recent research finds less of a direct link between mental health issues and induced abortions. Clinical evidence suggests otherwise, at least for the cases of unexpected or unwanted pregnancies.
It is observed that a majority of women consulting about abortions have made their decisions even beforehand. The information they require are details about the procedure, info on life after abortion management and good referral for abortion services. Such intended abortions, be for any reason, may not be linked to as many physical or psychological drawbacks because they are carried out with all the safety measures taken.
According to The American Psychological Association (APA), there is no association between a woman having an abortion and depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic disorder. The APA released an observation in 2008 stating that mental health issues were relatively less for a woman undergoing an optional abortion in the first trimester than for a woman who was forced to carry her unwanted pregnancy to term.
Here are some evidence based observations on women’s lives after abortion:
- Women who were not given an option for abortion suffered high levels of anxiety and low self-esteem than their counterparts
- The child born out of an unwanted or unintended pregnancy receives less care regarding cognitive, emotional, and social development guidelines from the mother. These children are prone to engage in criminal behaviors and usually have unstable relationships in life
- In countries where anti-abortion policies are in place, the prevalence of unsafe abortions is high
- Women who bear unwanted pregnancies may stay in toxic relationships putting up with violent partners. These relationships are linked with interpersonal violence, which puts the mother and her children at risk
- Women find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to social equity regarding the refusal of abortion rights in some cultures
- Restrictive laws to seek safe abortions are particularly harmful to women with weak financial status, women of color, gender minorities, as well as those who live in under-developed parts of the world
- Going through unwanted pregnancies has a strong link to poor mental health later in life in most cases
- Few women express guilt over safe abortions five years later. These observations were made by a long-term study conducted among the U.S women. 99% of the participants stated that they were satisfied with their decision to abort a pregnancy five years afterward. They stated that they had made the right decision. However, the social stigma attached to abortions led to trigger negative emotions in the rest of the women
Abortions are personal choices made by women after serious deliberations. Abortions always cause physical stress. However, evidence shows unsafe abortions result in psychological stress for women, and unintended pregnancies prove harmful to women’s health in the long-term. Liberty to exercise the right to seek abortion helps promote safe procedures done. It also contributes towards preserving the mental health of women overall. Life after abortion may change, but support is also available.