Abortion has had devastating effects since 1973 as nearly 60 million babies have died due to legalized abortion (1). In America that’s 3 315 a day whereas worldwide it stands at a depressing 115 000. And just as disheartening is that a large number of women and men are living with the pain and regret of their decision (2). Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case few would have realized just how massive the impact abortion would be on the lives of millions of people, especially on the women who have had the abortions.
According to Cullen Herout, a Mental Health Practitioner in Nebraska, he has had a much experience in engaging the subject of abortion through working with the pro-life organization Rachel’s Vineyard, “I have heard and read countless stories from women who have had abortions. Each story is different, each has different characters, is based in a different location, has different explanations and reasons for choosing abortion. The emotions range widely: some experience sadness, grief, loss. Others experience regret, shame, or an unwillingness to forgive themselves. Still others experience isolation or a raw emptiness of being unable to experience any emotion at all. Some have dissociated themselves from the experience, or buried it so deeply within themselves that no matter how badly they want to discuss it, they have difficulty. The men oftentimes are also consumed by loss, regret, and a feeling of helplessness about their past.” Herout goes on, “I’ve heard the sorrow. I’ve heard the grief. I’ve heard the torment, the angst, and the shame. I’ve listened to the regret, the guilt, the helplessness. I’ve seen the tears, the emotional blockades, the defense mechanisms. Still more, I’ve heard women who have been silenced by the pain and the hurt. They have learned they cannot speak out, and so they have kept their stories to themselves. They have been silent for years, sometimes decades. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. It’s eye-opening” (3).
This is the motivation behind the Silent No More campaign (4). The men and women of the campaign may have denied their babies a voice and a right to life but, through their pain, they are using their voices to give other babies a chance at life. The stories that these men and women share speak to the horrific truth that abortion kills innocent babies and often damages their mothers and fathers for a lifetime. Counsellor Brianna Sharbaugh responded to one study hailed to show that 95% of women don’t regret abortions in her informative article titled Actually Women Do Regret Their Abortions (others have shown flaws in the study too (5)), “My knowledge of the post-abortive woman has been shaped by a decade of experience counseling them. In the past ten years I have heard the stories of hundreds of these women as I’ve worked at three different crisis pregnancy centers (in both a staff and volunteer capacity) throughout the Midwest.”
Sharbaugh refers to several people she has engaged all of whom have reported regret, pain, and anguish over their decisions. One of these women had had her abortion in her 20s and that decision has haunted her well into her 60s. Sharbough further refers to a study done in Finland that concluded that “The increased risk of suicide after an induced abortion indicates either common risk factors for both or harmful effects of induced abortion on mental health” (6). This, explains Sharbaugh, undeniably shows that “Women who had committed suicide and were post-abortive were six times more prevalent than women who had committed suicide and carried a pregnancy to term, especially among lower income, single mothers.”
A further study (7) found that 65% of post-abortive women “experienced multiple symptoms of increased arousal, re-experiencing and avoidance associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” Sharbaugh has experienced this with one woman she has counselled who suffers from vivid flashbacks and trauma at the sound of a common household vacuum, similar to the sound of the suction device used during her abortion procedure over fifteen years ago. Another study (8) “compared psychiatric admission rates of women in time periods from 90 days to 4 years after either abortion or childbirth.” The study found that, among low income women, those who had abortions were more likely to have multiple psychiatric admissions than their peers who carried a pregnancy to term.
Given this data it seems that abortion does have major effects on women but, urges Sharbough, “more research should be done on this topic before we make conclusive statements that women do not regret their abortions.” Many women have taken to the Silent No More website to explain to others how abortion has impacted their lives.
1. Bigger, M. 2016. Millions of Women Regret Their Abortions, We Should Pay Attention to Their Stories. Available.
2. Herout, C. 2016. Millions Of Women Regret Their Abortions. Maybe We Should Pay More Attention. Available.
3. Herout, C. 2015. Why I Can’t Stay Silent About Abortion. Available.
4. Silent No More. Available.
5.Elliot Institute. 2015. Study Claiming Women Don’t Regret Abortions Deeply Flawed and Deceptive. Available.
6. PubMed. 1996. Suicides after pregnancy in Finland, 1987-94: register linkage study. Available.
7. PubMed. 2003. Psychiatric admissions of low-income women following abortion and childbirth. Available.
8. PubMed. 2003. Psychiatric admissions of low-income women following abortion and childbirth. Available.