Saturday, 23 September 2023
Pressure to abort adds to mental health ramifications Sara Rolin/Unsplash

Pressure to abort adds to mental health ramifications

Pregnancy counselors and those involved in post abortion healing ministry are well aware of the pressure often involved in a woman's decision to abort. They hear these stories over and over and witness the suffering it has caused in their life.

However, it's not just anecdotally we know this. A new study confirms that unwanted abortions are common and are strongly linked to a decline in the mother's mental health.

The study from the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) found that over 60% of women who had an abortion report a high level of external pressure to abort from one or more source. The study also found that these same women report higher levels of subsequent mental health and quality of life issues.

The study, named Effects of Pressure to Abort on Women's Emotional Responses and Mental Health, is the "first in a series of planned studies designed to investigate the prevalence and impact of abortions that conflict with women’s own maternal preferences and moral beliefs," CLI reports, and was published in the medical journal Cureus.

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As CLI reports, women who reported being pressured into an abortion by either their male partner or a family member also reported statistically significant levels of:

• Negative emotions due to their abortion

• Interference with daily life, work, or relationships

• Intrusive thoughts, including flashbacks to the abortion

• Frequent feelings of loss, grief, or sadness about the abortion

• Increased levels of stress answering questions about the abortion

With the use of a marketing firm, researchers presented an online survey, with women 41-45 years of age invited to participate until 1,000 surveys were fully completed. Twenty-two-point-six percent of the survey respondents reported a history of abortion, "which aligns with national estimates of the percentage of women who will have abortions in their lifetime," CLI reports.

Interestingly, those who said they'd had an abortion, "were four times more likely to drop out of the survey once they faced additional questions about their abortion experience compared to women who did not report an abortion and faced additional questions about their other pregnancy experiences."

David Reardon, Ph.D., a Charlotte Lozier Institute Associate Scholar, director of the Elliot Institute, and lead author of the study, highlights why the dropout rate for the post-abortive survey participants is significant.

“Even with our high participation rate, women with a history of abortion reported higher levels of stress completing the survey than other women, which is probably why they were most likely to drop out before completing the survey,” Reardon said. “This is why surveys about abortion will always underreport negative outcomes. It is precisely the women feeling the most negative emotions who are most likely to not want to talk about it.”

The hypocrisy of abortion providers claiming to support women is another noteworthy aspect of the study, as Reardon points out in his study report.

“Abortion clinics cannot claim to be pro-woman while at the same time allowing the majority of their clients to be pressured into unwanted abortions,” he said. “Our national study finds that women who feel pressured to have abortions are significantly more likely to blame their abortions for contributing to a decline in mental health, increased disruptions in their daily lives, and more frequent episodes of grief and loss."

Tweet This: Abortion clinics cannot claim to be pro-woman while allowing the majority of their clients to be pressured into unwanted abortions

“In a country torn by political debate over abortion, surely these findings underscore one point on which we should all be able to agree,” Reardon continued. “No woman should ever feel pressured into accepting an unwanted abortion. Clearly, abortion clinics need to provide better pre-abortion screening and counseling in order to prevent unsafe and unwanted abortions.”

In the same study report, Tessa Longbons, Senior Research Associate at CLI and study co-author, pointed out what pregnancy center workers know from the women they speak to.

"Abortion does not empower women,” said Longbons. “Quite the opposite, the abortion industry enables and gives support to those who seek to control women." 

"This coercion can have long-lasting mental health repercussions, and now that the FDA allows the abortion pill to be dispensed without a woman ever seeing a doctor, the abortion industry’s coercion problem may only get worse,” she said. “Women deserve to be fully informed, and they deserve better than abortion.”

Unfortunately, the people who most need to hear this - young women in unplanned pregnancies - are often kept in the dark on this information that is crucial to their decision. Big media rarely if ever discuss anything negative about abortion, continuing to portray it in bogus terms such as "a women's choice," "my body," and "empowering." 

Outside of conservative, Christian, or Catholic media, they're unlikely to ever learn the heartbreaking truth about the issues surrounding abortion.

As Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League stated in a press release regarding the study, "Most of the mainstream media is in the tank with pro-abortion activists, which explains their reluctance to accurately report on the seriousness of abortion complications. Yet any person who truly believes in the best interests of women should want all women to know what can happen to them when undergoing an abortion."

Donohue remarked on the seriousness of abortion complications.

"The latest data from the CDC on abortion shows that in 2020 there were 620,327 abortions in the United States,” Donohue said. “They also found that roughly 2 percent of all abortions involve some type of complication. To put that in perspective, that means that in about 12,400 cases, there was a complication.”

Tracie Shellhouse, vice president of Ministry Services for Heartbeat International, noted the significance of the CLI study and highlighted the crucial nature of pregnancy help centers. 

"Regardless of political and philosophical beliefs, it’s hard to overlook the fact that women who decide to have abortions, and even more so those who are pressured to abort, report negative feelings, regrets, and often lifelong mental health struggles,” she said. “And these reports are only from the women who are willing to address how abortion has affected their lives. Results from “The Unwanted Abortion Studies” indicate many post-abortive women drop out and remain silent. “

“Post-abortive women should not suffer in shame and silence as they deal with the negative outcomes related to abortion decisions they never expected or wanted in the first place,” Shellhouse continued. “We must continue to provide safe, nonjudgmental spaces for the untold numbers of women who have had abortions to find healing and their voices.” 

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.



Patty Knap

Patty Knap is a certified pregnancy counselor, faith formation teacher, ABA therapist for autism, and freelance writer from Long Island.  


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