Abortion is a deeply divisive topic, often framed as a matter of women’s rights vs. fetal rights. Pro-abortion activists create a narrative that pro-life supporters are only protecting preborn babies at the expense of women and girls. In fact, among abortion proponents, it is considered axiomatic that unfettered access to abortion is an uncontested good for the freedom, health, and happiness of women. However, a closer look reveals that the opposite is true: abortion can have profound and lasting negative effects on a pregnant woman’s health and well-being that persist long into her future. From psychological and physical health risks to social and spiritual consequences, the impact of abortion on women is complex and far-reaching.


Psychological Impact

One of the most significant ways abortion can harm women is through its psychological impact. While some women purport to be untroubled about ending their pregnancies, many experience feelings of guilt, shame, and regret after having an abortion. This can lead to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trauma of abortion can linger for years, affecting relationships, work, and overall well-being.

In his study, “Induced Abortion and Traumatic Stress”, psychotherapist Vincent Rue found a significant connection between abortion and subsequent mental health issues: 

  • 65% of U.S. women who had an abortion experienced multiple symptoms of PTSD with 14.3% meeting the full diagnostic criteria
  • 25% said they didn’t feel they had received adequate counseling
  • 64% reported feeling pressured by others to abort
  • 60% said they felt as if “part of me died” after their abortions

Another study, performed by medical researcher and professor David Fergusson, found a link between abortions and increased risks of anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviors. Women suffering from post-abortion mental health struggles may report emotional fatigue, a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, feelings of acute fear and distress surrounding the memory of their abortion, and an urge to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Physical Health Risks

As a medical procedure, abortion carries inherent health risks. Complications from an abortion can include infection, uterine perforation, and damage to other organs. In rare cases, abortion can even result in death. Furthermore, abortion has been linked to an increased risk of future pregnancy complications, such as preterm birth and miscarriage, and a slightly higher incidence of ectopic pregnancy. Though these negative physical health consequences occur in about 1 in 50 women who terminate their pregnancies, according to the National Institutes of Health, they are often downplayed or overlooked in discussions about abortion.


Social Isolation

For some individuals, abortion can lead to a sense of social isolation. This feeling may arise from a variety of factors, including stigma surrounding abortion, fear of judgment or rejection from friends and family, and the burden of shame or guilt about her choice. Additionally, the decision to have an abortion is usually a deeply personal one, and often a woman chooses not to share her experience with friends or family, resulting in further loneliness and a feeling of separation. Carrying the burden of having to keep a secret from those close to her is taxing, and without this information, they are unable to understand what she’s going through or to support her.


Abuse and Coercion

Abortion coercion is a form of reproductive abuse where individuals are pressured or forced into having an abortion against their will. A parent, partner, or abuser uses threats, manipulation, or withholding support in an attempt to force the mother to terminate her pregnancy. Abortion providers often miss signs of coercive abuse in women and teen girls who obtain abortions. In cases involving minors, abortion coercion can be particularly concerning as it can be used to conceal ongoing sexual abuse of the child by an adult predator. Perpetrators may coerce minors into having abortions to hide evidence of their abuse and continue their crimes. This can perpetuate the cycle of abuse and further victimize minors who are already in vulnerable situations. Similarly, women trapped in sex-trafficking are often forced to abort their babies to preserve their ability to earn money for their traffickers. It is essential to address abortion coercion and provide support to individuals, especially minors, who may be experiencing such coercion to ensure their safety and well-being.


Spiritual Considerations

Finally, for many women, abortion raises profound spiritual questions. It can challenge their beliefs about the sanctity of life and their own morality. Women who are religious may struggle with feelings of guilt and sinfulness after having an abortion, which can lead to spiritual distress and a sense of alienation from God and from their faith community. This spiritual injury is debilitating for a person of faith. Post abortive women and men are hurting and need healing. Healing comes through true forgiveness, and true forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ.


Women Deserve Better

Despite abortion supporters painting it as an empowering and positive choice, the truth is that abortion damages women. It compounds the difficulties of an unplanned pregnancy with loss, grief, and guilt. It can have far-reaching and devastating effects on a woman’s psychological, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. As a society, we must recognize and address these effects, offering support and understanding to women who have experienced abortion, as well as alternatives to those who are considering it. Only by acknowledging the true impact of abortion can we begin to heal the silent suffering of those who have been harmed by it.

The ProLife Doc, Dr. William Lile, is a devoted advocate for the well-being of women and babies. Through education and true healthcare that equips patients to choose life, Dr. Lile and his pro-life colleagues support better physical and mental health outcomes for women, children, and families. Contact Dr. Lile or explore the ProLife Doc website to learn more.

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