An abortion is more than just a medical procedure. It is a choice about your pregnancy that can affect a woman physically as well as emotionally.
If you’ve had an abortion or are considering one, there is emotional and psychological follow-up care that is important to be aware of.
There are some women that may be more prone to experiencing negative emotional or psychological effects after having an abortion. This includes but is not limited to women who:
- Have had previous psychological or emotional concerns;
- Were coerced, forced, or persuaded to get an abortion;
- Have religious beliefs that conflict with abortion;
- Have moral or ethical beliefs that conflict with abortion;
- Obtain an abortion in the later stages of pregnancy;
- Do not have support from a significant other, family, or friends;
- Had an abortion for genetic fetal abnormalities.
Going through the process of an abortion can be traumatizing and have side effects similar to those after a loss. Grief, regret, shame, depression, relationship issues, trouble sleeping, and anxiety are a few of the possible negative emotional or psychological side effects after an abortion.
If I’m experiencing any of these side effects, what should I do?
The best thing you can do is to seek help. Working through your thoughts and feelings after a life event, such as an abortion, is important. Post-abortion support groups or counseling are safe places to work through various issues.
- Regret: You need time to let it go, give yourself grace, and make plans to avoid a similar situation in the future.
- Grief: You need time to come to terms with what has happened and a safe place to work through your loss.
- Relationship issues due to the abortion: You need a safe space to talk through your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with your partner.
- Depression: You may need someone to talk to in a non-judgemental environment. If it is more serious, a referral to a health care provider for further treatment.
- Suicidal thoughts or feelings: Please do not hesitate to call the National Hotline at 1-800-784-2433. You do NOT have to go through it alone!
Who can help me?
Many pregnancy centers have abortion recovery support groups or free counseling. You can talk to other women who have gone through an abortion, work through struggles together, or learn about coping mechanisms that have helped others. One-on-one counseling is helpful if you are not ready to share your experience in a group setting.
If you don’t know where a pregnancy center is in your area, call 1-800-672-2296 to find a center near you.
What are some things I could do on my own to heal?
- Find a safe place (whether public or private) to talk over your thoughts and feelings following the abortion with the father.
- Complete a post-abortion workbook. You can find these online.
- If you are religious, work through the process of reconciliation based on your beliefs, or talk to a leader that you know.
- Memorialize: write a letter to your baby, choose a name, or have a simple service in memory of your baby.
- Take steps to not place yourself in the same situation again.