It is normal to mourn after the loss of a pregnancy, regardless of the reason for the loss. In the case of an abortion this may be particularly difficult because the abortion may have been freely chosen to resolve other problems. Most women feel some relief immediately after the abortion procedure, though there is often sadness as well.
Natural hormonal changes during pregnancy are affected by an abortion, and can cause a woman to feel more emotional than usual. Post-abortive women may experience a variety of feelings, including sadness, anger, regret, guilt, or even numbness. Women who have experienced abortion often report symptoms typical of depressive and anxiety disorders, such as sleeplessness, tearfulness, anxiety, hopelessness, irritability, and an inability to concentrate. These problems can be confounded by relationship difficulties that are often both a cause and effect of the abortion decision. When a pregnancy loss occurs in secret, this can prevent others from offering the support and guidance needed to navigate this stressful time.
The abortion procedure is never as simple as it sounds... many weep on the inside, if not outwardly.
Although many women experience these problems for only a short period, many others have emotional difficulties lasting for a long period after the abortion. These may manifest as clinical depression, an anxiety disorder, substance abuse, an eating disorder, or sexual difficulties. Women who already have problems such as these before an abortion may have a worsening of symptoms as a result of the abortion. Such difficulties can last for months or even years.
In addition to these reactions, other symptoms seem to be unique to post-abortive women. These include avoidance of babies, fear of future pregnancies, or a quick attempt to become pregnant again to create an "atonement child" to replace the child lost by abortion. Women may also have flashbacks and nightmares about the abortion, and feel alientated from God. This constellation of symptoms is sometimes called "post-abortion syndrome" or "post-abortion stress" (PAS). PAS can be successfully resolved via individual or group counseling. Most pregnancy resource centers offer such counseling or can provide a referral.
If this is you, it is important to talk about your feelings with someone you trust. To facilitate this process, the Alpha Center offers help for the post-abortion woman. Call us toll-free at 1-800-276-0237 or send email and speak to an experienced post-abortion client advocate — someone who knows what you're going through.
Pre-abortion counseling is critical when considering pregnancy options. Many specialists feel that all pregnant women would benefit from counseling of some sort, and an abortion decision involves unique issues that require more a careful examination. Counseling can help identify feelings and motivation for choosing abortion, which can reduce the risk of having problems months or years later. The Alpha Center can help. We offer free confidential counseling and post-abortion support groups as well.