Women think very long and hard before deciding to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. They usually have a number of counseling sessions beforehand, where the physical effects of a termination are fully explained. However, few truly understand the psychological effects as well.
In 2012, some 699,202 abortions were performed on women aged between 15 and 44. This is a significant number and spans women of different ages, backgrounds, and economic status. Some women have been abused, others have mental health issues, others simply didn’t plan to have children, and others still simply cannot look after a child financially. Either way, these women have to go through the complex and difficult emotions of terminating a pregnancy.
The Psychology of Abortion
The hardest part of an abortion is not the medical procedure itself, which is virtually painless and over very quickly. What comes after, however, is much harder. Hormonal changes start to happen very quickly, and women also start to be in emotional turmoil. In fact, women become far more likely to require psychiatric help after an abortion. This is particularly true for women who were abused, and whereby this abuse resulted in the unwanted pregnancy. They are one of the largest risk groups for being hospitalized due to their mental health.
Common emotional problems after abortions include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Eating disorders
- Drug abuse
- Fear of pregnancy
- Avoidance of babies
- Suicidal tendencies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
In very rare cases, women develop post abortion syndrome (PAS), which poses a real risk to a woman’s overall health and wellbeing. Those who have a history of relationship difficulties and abuse are at increased risk of developing this. They, above everyone else, should be offered women’s counseling services, although all women who go through an abortion should be offered this.
When a woman goes through an abortion, she has to deal with a significant trauma, and that is how it should be treated. With proper counseling not just before but also after the abortion, women can return to a normal, happy life, in which they have come to term with their decision. If they do not receive that type of support, however, the consequences could be disastrous.
Women can develop PAS at any stage after their abortion, sometimes even years after the fact. Generally, however, these women will not have received counseling at any stage after the abortion. This shows that it is vital that counseling is offered as standard, even if a woman seems to be fine with her decision after she has had the procedure completed.
Any woman who is facing an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of the reasons for her experiencing that pregnancy, has a right to make decisions over her own body. She also has the right to experience positive mental health. This is why so many women’s health clinics now focus not solely on the physical wellbeing of women, but offer them counseling services as well, thereby avoiding future serious problems.