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An original research paper on the Long Term Physiological and Psychological Effects of Abortion on the health of Women, both their physical and emotional health including thoughts of suicide and on their ability to be a mother in the future.

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Post Abortion Syndrome Facts From Central Illinois Right To Life

Long Term Physiological
and Psychological Effects
of Abortion on Women

An Original Research Paper on Post Abortion Syndrome Disorder
By: Jessica Lawlor

Table of Contents
1.0 Introduction
2.0 Review of Literature
2.1 Psychological Effects of Abortion
2.1.1 Symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome
2.1.2 Causes of Post Abortion Syndrome
2.1.3 Diagnostic Criteria for Post Abortion Syndrome
2.1.4 Treatments for Post Abortive Stress Disorder
2.2 Physiological Effects of Abortion
2.2.1 Miscarriages
2.2.2 Infertility/Ectopic Pregnancies
2.2.3 Breast Cancer
2.3 Conclusion

1.0 Introduction

There are many arguments surrounding the abortion debate. An issue dealing with abortion that has not been explored very thoroughly is the issue of Post-Abortion-Syndrome. This paper will examine the psychological and physiological effects of abortion, on the women who had them, later in life. This paper dealing with abortion will not explore either side of the abortion debate because to do so would introduce biases.

This paper will examine physical complications and problems resulting from abortions. This paper will also examine this mystery of Post Abortion Syndrome and outline the symptoms, causes, criteria and treatments, for the disorder itself. In a recent study in Buffalo more than 400 women were poled two years after they had an abortion, and it was found that only seven out of ten were glad for their decision, 12% were unsure, and 19% regretted it. (Western Report 1998, 29) In the past there has been debate as to the mere existence of Post-Abortion-Stress disorder, this paper will dispel that confusion.

2.0 Review of Literature

2.1 psychological Effects of Abortion

It has been discovered that there are many emotional aspects that can effect the psychological well being of women who undergo an abortion. These emotions include guilty feelings, anxiety, depression, loss, anger, and even suicide. Clinical research has found that when women are in trusting, sharing relationships, they report deep seated feelings of exploitation over their abortion experience. (Alliance Action Inc 1993, 1) A woman reports, "I was unprepared for the maze of emotions that hit me after I had the procedure. Instead of feeling relieved, I was awash in anxiety and confusion." (Hutchison 1997, 23).

2.1.1 Symptoms of Post-Abortion-Syndrome Disorder

There is a large spectrum of symptoms of this disorder. In order to diagnose that a woman has Post-Abortion-Syndrome she must be completely honest with herself, and with the feelings that she has. Many women report strong feelings of guilt and confusion, as well as loss and many other emotions. In Canadian study by Dr. Ian Kent, many women feel deep loss and pain for the child that "should have been". (Kent 1989, 6) One woman reports the wave and confusion she went through, " I felt an incredible sense of loss that plunged me deeper into a state of confusion." (Hutchison 1997, 23) There are extreme cases, in which the diagnosis is very easy. Such cases include a seventeen-year-old girl who developed lethargy, malaise, and vomiting. Doctors were unable to reach any conclusion about condition, then on the anniversary of her abortion she experienced overt psychosis. Mental examination revealed hallucinations, as well as psychotic thought processes. Guilt is probably the most common symptom of a Post-Abortion-Syndrome, which can lead to depression, complexes, or fear of infertility and of sex. (Alliance Action Inc. 1996, 1)

2.1.2 Causes of Post-Abortion-Syndrome

The causes for this stress disorder are really quite simple. The thing that has made the very existence of Post-Abortion-Syndrome debatable is the fact that it often does not surface until many years after the abortion. It is very common for a woman to say that she is fine about the whole thing, but later in live she finds herself engulfed in feelings of guilt, confusion, and exploitation. The reason for the surfacing anxiety is partly a mystery, but is often associated with the birth of a wanted child, or during unrelated counseling. (Gentles 1990, 85-86) The very interesting phenomenon about this dis-order is that the synptoms seem repressible, at least for a time. Clinical research has shown that when women are in trusting sharing relationships they report deep seated feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, loss, anger, and exploitation over their abortion experience. The causes for the dis-order surfacing seems to be in many ways, time itself. (Allied Action Inc. 1996, 1).

2.1.3 Diagnostic Criteria for Post-Abortion-Syndrome

There are strict criteria released that will diagnose the dis-order. There are five main factors that must be met, and they are, stressor, re-experience, avoidance, associated features, and course. The first and most pivotal is the abortion itself, which in many cases is more traumatic than usual human experience. The second criterion is re-experience, which causes women to remember the specifics of the experience; this may even include hallucinations, and often are spurred on the anniversary of the event. The third criterion is Avoidance, which is spurred on by guilt. This means that the woman avoids all things that would remind her of the event. Women often become detached from others, and withdraw from relationships, and perhaps takes on a hard cold attitude toward others to avoid feeling love for them. At this stage the woman often just wishes for the end of her life, and does not have many ambitions, or long term dreams. The fourth criterion is associated features, which are persistent symptoms that were not present before the abortion. These symptoms may include insomnia, angry outbursts, distraction, hyper-vigilance, depression and thoughts of suicide, guilt for surviving, inability to forgive oneself, and secondary substance abuse. There must be at least two of these symptoms present in order for the fourth criterion to be satisfied. The fifth and final criterion refers only to the length of time that the second third and fourth are met. They must be met for more than one month. Onset of symptoms may be delayed to six month after the abortion or longer. (Rue, Ph.D. 1989, 1)

2.1.4 Treatments for Post Abortive Stress Disorder

Unfortunately due to the very nature of abortoins themselves there is no remedy for the action, and no perfect remedy for the dis-order. There is however steps that can be taken. Post abortion counseling has proven to be helpful, and the recent development of a spiritual and psychological program that provides support and reconciliation to women who have had abortoins, called 'project Rachel'. This is a catholic program that is being recommended to help women come to terms with their abortions, and especially themselves. (The National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and healing 1993, 5) Support groups have also been found to be helpful, as reported by one woman, "I worked in conjunction with the Vancouver Women's Health Collective to form a post-abortion support group. The group offered women a safe space to tell their stories and share common experiences". Support groups often help women to deal with feelings of guilt, and move on with their lives. (Hutchison 1997, 23-24)

2.2 Physiological Effects of Abortion

Unfortunately there are some rather serious physical problems that may result from an abortion. There is a wide range of complications that can result from abortions, such as, future miscarriages, infertility and ectopic pregnancies, and even breast cancer.

2.2.1 Miscarriages

There is a staggering amount of miscarriages that result because of previous abortions. Early studies on the physical complications of abortoin were once thought to be scare tactics, but because of recent studies, there has been a discovery of real danger to the future reproductive systems of women. The "West Jerusalem Study" presented careful research studying 11057 women, 752 of which had previously had an abortion. The findings of that report reveal serious repercussions on the mother, and any future children. There is relatively a 3 to 4 fold increase in the chance on miscarriage among women who have had an abortion, as those who have not had an abortion. They also report that there was disturbing amounts of malformations in the births following induced abortions.(Gentles 1990, 75) The rate of miscarriages after abortions is a startling figure at 35% higher than the normal rate. (Hogue 1996, 10)

2.2.2 Infertility/Ectopic Pregnancies

Because an abortion is a surgery there is a risk of damaging the nearby organs (i.e. Ovaries), but due to the nature of this part of the body there can be serious consequences to the reproductive future of women. In these types of pregnancies the baby grows in the fallopian tubes, causing serious risk to the mother, and an almost certain death to the baby. Women who have their first pregnancy terminated have five times the chance of having ectopic pregnancies. (Gentles 1990, 77) Infertility is also a possible complication of a previous abortoin. A woman writes, "After the abortion, I tried to make up for the abortion by trying to get pregnant again. I wanted my baby back. I never got pregnant again." (Michelle C. 1996, 12) There has been proven to be an increase in complications because of abortions.

2.2.3 Breast cancer

A link has been found recently between the termination of a first pregnancy, and developing breast cancer later in life. When an abortoin cuts short a pregnancy, women's breast tissue is left in a dangerously stimulated but undifferentiated state, increasing the risk of later cancerous development. According to studies done by Dr. Janet Daling there is reported fifty percent increase of breast cancer among women under forty five who had induced abortoins. These results were published in the august Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (Ranalli 1996, A13)

2.3 Conclusion

In the past few years there have been staggering discoveries as to the complications of abortion. Too often abortion is thought of as a way to "get rid of the problem", and the evidence is showing that for many women this "procedure" brings only further problems. Perhaps the most frightening consequence is the reality of Post Abortoin syndrone, due to the fact that this dis-order lurks in the subconscious of the women who had the abortions, and seems to wait for a moment of emotional weakness to overwhelm them with feelings of guilt and loss. The great effects that abortion has is leaving its mark in society with great depth. There has been a severe increase in birth complications, as well as emotional and family problems, because whether we like it or not abortion affects us all. The purpose of this paper was to shed light on the mysteries surrounding the dangers of abortion, and help others to truly make an informed decision.


1. Allied Action Inc. Post Abortion Syndrone, 1996
2. Gentles, I. (Ed) A time to Choose Life. Toronto Canada: Studdard Publishing Co., 1990.
3. Hutchison. "A Feminist Approach to Post-Abortion Counselling". Herizons, June 1997: 23-24
4. Hogue C. "The Side Effects of Abortion". She's a Child, 1996
5. Kent. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrone, New York. 1989
6. "The Milk of Human Kindness". Western Report, 12/01/98: 25
7. M.Rue, Vincint. Post Abortion Syndrone; Diagnostic Criteria, 1989
8. Michelle C. "Don't Make My Mistakes". She's a Child, 1996
9. The National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing Impact of Abortion on the Family; IRLF Newsletter, 1993
10. Ranalli, Paul. "Abortion and Breast Cancer:Why dismiss the link?".
11. The Globe and Mail, April 1, 1996

To whom it may concern.
I am a grade 13 student in Ontario, and I have done a research paper on Post Abortion Syndrome. I was appalled at the lack of research there has been on the topic, however the time to start is now. I have written a 1600-word research paper, and I just wanted to pass it along. If you can use it you are welcome to it. All of the sources are ten years old or less.
In Christ, Jessica

Contact Jessica by email at jessicalawlor@hotmail.com

Read about The Physical And Spiritual Effects Of Abortion, an article from a recent issue of our newsletter, Central Illinois Life News.
Get information on a Central Illinois Post Abortion Support Group.
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4100 N. Brandywine Drive
Peoria,  IL  61614
General Email:  cirtl@cirtl.org

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