On their website, Planned Parenthood tells women and girls considering abortion: “you may have a wide range of feelings after your abortion. Most women ultimately feel relief after an abortion. Some women feel anger, regret, guilt, or sadness for a little while. Serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion are about as uncommon as they are after giving birth.” Women are told they will be able to go right back to their normal lives with a very low risk of any sort of consequence.
But that is not the truth. Abortion leaves wounds and scars that run deep. Sometimes they are felt right away, sometimes they take years to manifest; but the truth is that millions of women who have had an abortion, thinking it would be a quick fix they would never have to think about again, are plagued with the pain and guilt of post-abortion syndrome, a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Women who felt pressured into having an abortion, or felt uncertainty or ambivalence about their decision to have one, are more likely to experience trauma and emotional pain. According to AbortionFacts.com, some of the most common issues women experience post-abortion are “depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior [such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, and attempted suicide], sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children.” It is estimated that 70 percent of women who get abortions have them under adverse circumstances and are thus at “high risk” for experiencing emotional distress after the fact. An estimated 1.6 million babies are aborted each year in the United States alone–that’s a lot of women struggling with deep and painful emotional wounds.
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Many women have come forward to share their stories of abortion in the hope that someone reading or hearing them will choose life and not have to go through the trauma and pain they did. These are some of their stories:
“Abortion appeared to be the only answer. At the clinic I was told the procedure would be quick and safe, allowing me to continue my activities the next day. I turned to the nurse and told her I didn’t think I could go through with it. She held my hand, telling me it would be over in a few minutes. Before I could reply, the suction machine was turned on, causing tremendous pain. I was frightened, it hurt so much. I wanted to scream. I wanted it to stop. I suddenly knew there was a baby inside. They were killing my baby! Limping to the recovery room I felt nauseated, weak and defeated. I couldn’t stop crying, and neither could the other women there. My life was irreversibly changed at that moment. I cried for days and weeks – eventually years. I felt so dirty, so guilty, so unworthy to live.” – Michaelene Jenkins
“Without the Lord’s healing I would have a hard time dealing with the blood on my hands. Abortion is not a quick fix. It’s not a bandage you can put on the sore. When that bandage falls off, a scar remains forever.” – Jeniece Learned
“I know millions of women across this country feel as I do about abortion. We all somehow know deep down inside that we alone made a horrible decision and no coined phrase about choice and rights or the denial of biological and fetal facts can ever erase the truth. For we as mothers instinctively know during those still moments of aloneness, that we ended the life of a separate human being growing inside of each and every one of us.” – Susan Carpenter-McMillan
“Please understand that by aborting your unborn child, that does not make the baby go away. Your baby will be in your heart until you die. After abortion – the guilt, shame and loneliness is horrible. Once you abort, you cannot go back and change it.” – Lisa Burroughs
“Now that my son is 4 years old, I sometimes look at his sweet face and wonder what features my other child would have had. I still have dreams about holding him or her and it makes me so deeply sad to think that I have robbed my son of a sibling. Why not just try and conceive a sibling for him today you may ask? Well, I would love to but my husband and I have been struggling with infertility for two and half years. I never once dreamed that I wouldn’t be able to conceive when I wanted to! Every night my sweet boy prays to God for a sibling and every time I hear those precious prayers my heart aches over what I did. Because in retrospect an abortion isn’t an easy fix or a solution to a problem….it is the problem, and it leaves a lasting effect on generations to come.” – Ashley Granger
“I was an emotional wreck. The following day I was empty, sad, numb. I knew that day I had made a huge mistake. I wish with all my heart I would have done things differently.” – Carrie Camilleri
“[The nurse] told me something that I still can’t believe to this day. She told me that some initial sadness is normal, but after a couple days, if I was still feeling depressed, that is not normal and I should seek help. So, apparently most women feel relief and maybe initial sadness, but are quickly able to get on with their lives, as if nothing ever happened. How wrong she was.” – Abby Johnson, former abortion clinic director and pro-life advocate
“I flushed my baby in the toilet and it was horrifying. And it didn’t help me to graduate. It’s been nineteen years and to this day, I don’t have a degree. […] Seven years later, I got pregnant again. The father was twice my age and he was abusive. Abortion was the quick fix solution to protect myself and my baby from the abuser. So I went to a clinic and in great anxiety, I was put to sleep. When I woke up with blood on my legs, I burst into tears and I was inconsolable. I sank deeper and deeper into depression and suicidal thoughts. Then, I met my husband and he brought Jesus into my life but I was still hurting. When I was pregnant with our first child, my abortions resurfaced and the guilt was overwhelming. I went to counseling and I started to heal. Later, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and finally, I was able to forgive myself and find peace. Abortion promised to free me from two crisis situations and instead, it has nearly destroyed me.” – Beatrice Fedor
“January 6, 1989, at 9 1/2 weeks gestation, I had an abortion. It nearly killed me. No, not the surgical procedure, the psychological aftermath. I attempted suicide three times after my abortion and finally ended up in an adolescent psychiatric ward of a community hospital for a month to recover… Abortion ends life. Period. This is not in question nor should it be. This is a fundamental truth. I worked in the autoclave room [at an abortion clinic] where the “products of conception” (as so many pro-choice proponents—and abortion clinic counselors—call the fetus and placenta) were rearranged and counted to make sure “we got everything.” For early abortions, this meant floating the contents of the jar in water to visualize the chorionic villi. For abortions from about 8 1/2 – 12 weeks, this meant counting hands and feet, making sure the spine and ribcage and skull were present, you get the idea. For the abortions where the gestational age of the fetus was in question, especially if there was a chance it was an ‘oops,’ meaning a pregnancy terminated beyond the clinic’s legal limit of 14 weeks LMP (from last menstrual period), the feet were measured to determine a more accurate gestational age. Working in the autoclave room was never, ever easy. I saw my lost child in every jar of aborted baby parts. One night after working autoclave my nightmares about dead babies were so gruesome and terrifying and intense I met with the clinic’s director to talk about my feelings. She was very understanding, open and honest, and painfully forthright when she told me, “What we do here is end a life. Pure and simple. There is no disputing this fact.’” – Jewels Green, former abortion clinic worker and public speaker
Abortion Recovery InterNational provides a message board on their website where women can anonymously share their abortion experiences:
“I just feel full of resentment towards [my boyfriend]. Full of guilt that I killed my sweet innocent baby. I feel depressed empty and alone. I just don’t know what to do. I just want my baby back. I had my follow up appointment today and I hoped so bad that it didn’t work and I was still pregnant. Nope. It worked. I can’t even look at babies or anything to do with babies without crying!! When will this end??” – Leah
“I will hurt for the rest of my life because of this choice” – C
“Please, I beg you don’t ever have a abortion, even if you’re forced. It will haunt you for the rest of your life.” – I’ll Probably Never Be Forgiven
These stories may resonate deeply with you or a loved one; but know there is hope, help, and healing available for women and men (many men feel guilt and shame after pressuring someone else into having an abortion) who are dealing with post-abortion syndrome. If you or someone you know is considering an abortion, dealing with emotional pain over a past abortion, or in need of emotional or legal support because of an abortion, please get help through one of these resources:
- Lifecall: Provides information about your pregnancy and a list of crisis pregnancy centers and shelters throughout the U.S.
- Unborn in the USA: Provides a list of organizations you can talk to about pregnancy, abortion, adoption, etc.
- Rachel’s Vineyard: Conducts weekend retreats to help men and women heal from the pain of abortion.
- Ramah International: Provides information about abortion and resources for healing post-abortion.
- Project Rachel: Provides hope and resources for women post-abortion.
- AfterAbortion.org: Provides information and resources for those who are seeking help after abortion.
- Sisters of Life: Provides hope and healing after abortion
- Abortion Recovery InterNational: 1.866.4.My.Recovery [1-866-469-7326]
- Option Line: 1-800-712-HELP (24 Hour Line)
- Crisis Pregnancy Help Line: 1-800-672-2296
- American Rights Coalition: 1-800-634-2224
- National Life Center: 1-800-848-LOVE (24 Hour)
- Care Confidential U.K.: 0800 028 2228
Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and now a strong pro-life advocate, started And Then There Were None, an organization that provides counseling and emotional, legal, and financial support for those who wish to leave the abortion industry. If you or someone you know works in the abortion industry and wants to get out, please contact And Then There Were None.
Photo Credit: Shandi-lee Cox (Flickr)
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