Health Issues

Start Free Trial

How bad does abortion affect women?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While every case is different, and there can be no generalizations about so personal an experience, recent studies have shown that there are few long-term psychological effects for women who choose to have an abortion, unless they have pre-existing emotional distress or are terminating a wanted pregnancy. For example, in 2008, a study conducted at John Hopkins University reviewed 21 studies involving more than 150,000 women, and determined that "The best quality studies indicate no significant differences in long-term mental health between women in the United States who choose to terminate a pregnancy and those who do not". Here's a link to that site:

http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(08)00369-7/abstract.

The American Psychological Association has also convened several studies, the most recent in 2007. They concluded that "Although there may be sensations of regret, sadness, or guilt, the weight of the evidence from scientific studies indicates that legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester does not pose a psychological hazard for most women." However they did note that "women who are terminating pregnancies that are wanted and personally meaningful, who lack support from their partner or parents for the abortion, or who have more conflicting feelings or are less sure of their decision before hand may be a relatively higher risk for negative consequences." Here is the link to that:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/248/4951/41.abstract

On a personal note, my mother chose to have an abortion, and went on to have three children with no adverse psychological effects. To this day, she tells me that she does not regret her decision. But again, there can be no generalizing, and I'm sure each of us can quote studies all day that support both viewpoints. It's really something that can only be determined on an individual basis.



Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would have to agree that there is a potential for a woman who has had an abortion to suffer from many psychological and emotional problems. I wonder if the doctor's that perform abortion or the clinics offer any counseling after the abortion.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Another bad affect on women, beyond all of the great points made in the above posts, is the negative social stigma that goes along with the choice. Even though abortion is a legal option for women and may be the best choice for a woman, it is still the ending of a pregnancy, and that makes it a very emotional option.  While people may completely understand and support a woman's choice, it isn't likely something that will be celebrated, and others may express a very negative and un-supportive response.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

With anything traumatic and physically risky, individuals will respond in different ways.  However, it has been my experience through research and personal relationships, that the mental and emotional whammy delivered to women who have chosen to have abortions (or who have been forced by parents, spouses, etc.) is tremendous.  Depression, suicidal tendancies, even hallucinations (the child visits mom, visions of the child as he/she might appear at the appropriate age, etc.) may occur. 

Of course, there are physical risks as well.  A botched abortion can cause infertility and even death.  An abortion that is done well can still lead to side effects and difficulty conceiving at a future time.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would like to highlight the psychological damage that an abortion can cause, as indicated in #1. There is certainly lots and lots of cases in which having an abortion has resulted in depression or other mental difficulties which have necessitated counselling or some form of treatment to manage the impact of such a devastating act. It is important not to just focus on the physical consequences of abortion and recognise that the psychological impacts are just as important and potentially just as dangerous.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

My understanding is that the alleged link between abortion and breast cancer does not exist.  You can see evidence of this in the following link, which is from the National Cancer Institute.  This should, presumably, be an unbiased source as opposed to the pro-life sites that argue that there is actually a connection between the two.  The relevant quote from the link I'm providing is:

In February 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. Workshop participants reviewed existing population-based, clinical, and animal studies on the relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. They concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.

The article goes on to say that evidence from the time after 2003 has not changed their conclusion.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/abortion-miscarriage

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team