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Intersection of Life and Faith

Distress Caused by Abortion Can Linger for Years, Study Says

  • Patrick Goodenough International Editor
  • 2005 14 Dec
Distress Caused by Abortion Can Linger for Years, Study Says
(CNSNews.com) - A new study in Europe has found that women can experience feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame years after having an abortion, a finding in line with arguments long advanced by prolifers.

Comparing women who had a miscarriage with those who had an abortion, researchers at the University of Oslo learned that while members of the former group were found to be more distressed in the short-term, the longer-term mental effects were more marked among those who had an abortion.

The results were published in the December edition of BMC Medicine, a London-based medical journal.

Ten days after the loss of the child, 47.5 percent of women in the study who had miscarried suffered from some degree of mental distress, compared with 30 percent of those in the abortion group.

After six months, the proportion of those who had a miscarriage and were still suffering from distress had dropped to 22.5 percent, and after five years to just 2.6 percent.

By contrast, of those who had an abortion 25.7 percent were still affected after six months, and 20 percent - one in five - still experienced distress after five years.

"Women who had an abortion experienced high levels of anxiety, feelings of guilt, shame and relief and had to make efforts to avoid thoughts about the event," the researchers said.

Their work highlighted the importance of providing women with information about the psychological effects of losing a baby, whether as a result of a miscarriage of abortion.

"The difference in the courses of responses may partly result from the different characteristics of the two pregnancy termination events," the journal concluded.

Abortion Concern is an organization in New Zealand which, while not promoting a prolife or pro-abortion view, believes women are too often not given the type of information they need to make an informed decision when considering whether or not to have an abortion.

It says the real "right to choose" should include the right to choose not to have an abortion, and also encourages women who have had abortions to tell their stories.

Abortion Concern says many women suffer ill-effects after abortions. It lists some of the symptoms of post-abortion distress as anxiety, guilt, regret, sadness, depression, inability to concentrate, lowered self-esteem, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, compulsions to touch or avoid babies, and suicidal impulses.

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