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Post Abortion Stress


Today we are featuring a guest blogger. Holly is the Director of Restore After Abortion. Serving in the Chicagoland area for over 10 years, Restore After Abortion provides free supportive services to men and women who have experienced abortions.

Perhaps today you are faced with the hardest decision of your life. What should I do with this unplanned pregnancy? You know there is no easy answer but you are leaning towards the only option you think will get you out of this crisis situation: abortion. You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I will probably be sad for a few days, but let’s face it, I can get on with my life like this never happened and I don’t have to make any life-altering changes to it.” But, is abortion always a no-consequences option?

Many times, when we are faced with new challenges and have to make decisions within a short period of time, the outcomes are not always what we planned on. Such can be the case for a crisis pregnancy ending in an abortion. You may think having a quick abortion can solve your biggest problem. But, experience shows that other life-changing challenges can sometimes arise after going through with a medication or surgical abortion.

One major challenge that faces women after abortion can be referred to as post abortion stress, or PAS. What is PAS? PAS is the term given to the chronic inability to process through or grieve the painful thoughts and emotions about a crisis pregnancy that ended in abortion. It can show up immediately afterwards or can surface years later after the woman goes through stressful situations and/or a subsequent pregnancy.

The symptoms of PAS can mimic the symptoms that follow other highly-stressful life events. These can include:

  • Guilt
  • Regret
  • Crying episodes
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional numbness
  • Nightmares/flashbacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling uncomfortable around pregnant women or babies
  • Bonding issues with current or future children
  • Self-abusive behaviors (i.e. cutting, eating disorders, alcohol/substance abuse)
  • Anniversary reaction (increase in PAS symptoms on anniversary of abortion or potential due date)

What can increase the likelihood of suffering from the effects of PAS? There seem to be several reasons which can increase the likelihood of abortion having a negative impact on a specific woman.

  1. The decision was not entirely yours or there was pressure from others. Perhaps you had pressure from a boyfriend, family member, employer, or friend. If you made the decision to appease others, you may be feeling resentful, angry, or have other negative emotions.
  2. You were not 100% sure of an abortion decision. You had some uncertainty. If there were any doubts, you may be negatively impacted. Abortion is a major life decision and if you had hesitation yet still had an abortion it may be causing emotional stress. You may be asking yourself “what if?” and “if only”.
  3. You have values, opinions, or spiritual beliefs that go against abortion. You may be part of a faith tradition that speaks against abortion or maybe you don’t align yourself with any religion. Regardless, each person has values and interprets the world from their own spiritual perspective. Perhaps, before your abortion you said you were always “against it,” but then once you experienced an unwanted pregnancy you felt like it was your only option.
  4. You have a history of affective or mental health issues. If you had a history of depression, anxiety, or other affective disorders, it seems more likely that you will experience negative emotional symptoms after an abortion. Abortion can be a trigger for emotional distress.

If you have been considering abortion, where does this leave you? I believe it’s critical for men and women to approach abortion having been fully informed. Gather all the information you can. Build your support network. Allow yourself time to fully process all of the options that are available. Make an informed decision.

And remember that Restore After Abortion is here for you. If you have chosen abortion, know that there is never any judgment at Restore. Every person on our team is here because we truly care about men and women who have experienced abortions. However you feel, regardless of how much time has passed, our goal is to provide you with the resources and care you want, supporting you on your journey through post abortion stress. You are not alone.


Reference:

  • Feelings after abortion: Post-Abortion Syndrome. Retrieved from: https://www.lifesitenews.com/resources/abortion/abortion-risks/feelings-after-abortion-post-abortion-syndrome
The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.

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