By Suzanne Smith and LaRenda Sommers
In the fierce debate that rages on the right to life versus the right to choose, one consideration has been ignored from the abortion platform; the devastating effect abortions have on women’s mental health. If we really care about women then we must address the undeniable connection between abortion and the struggle that women who have undergone this procedure have with depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.
My friend, who we’ll call Karen, is an example of someone who has fought depression and low self-esteem because of an abortion. When she was a senior in high school she became pregnant. She felt she could not put this stress and worry on her parents so she decided to get an abortion. No one told her that this heavy burden would haunt her the rest of her life. She has had to endure debilitating depression and a sense of despair because she ended the life of a child, the only child that she would ever have the opportunity to carry in her womb. After Karen married, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. The effects of the radiation and chemotherapy used to save his life meant they could not have any children. This is not the outcome that abortion proponents like to portray.
A horrific new paradigm
There is a disturbing trend in our society to change the paradigm on abortion from one of the most horrific and heartbreaking decisions a woman can make, to a celebration of the termination of life. Believe it or not, there are actual abortion parties, complete with formal invitations for people to come celebrate the hostess’s abortion. Along with the celebratory parties, there are newly launched social campaigns like “1 in 3,” “The Abortion Diary Podcast,” and “Not Alone” that elicit unregretful abortion stories from the general public for posting on social media.
It makes you wonder how some women have descended so low as to make light of having an abortion, as if it were no big deal or without long-term consequences. Don’t be fooled! Most women who have an abortion suffer the pains of their decision for the rest of their lives. So, what are the actual statistics regarding abortion and mental health? In BJPsych: The British Journal of Psychiatry the analysis of research done from 1995-2005 it was observed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems compared to women who had not had an abortion
That is astounding! The interesting finding in this compilation of 22 studies is that even women who had a baby out of wedlock or an unplanned pregnancy that completed their pregnancies fared better emotionally than those who chose to terminate their pregnancies.
Hiding the ugly truth
Do you think that those counselors at Planned Parenthood let women know of these dismal statistics? No, quite the contrary! Information on the Planned Parenthood website states: “Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare and about as uncommon as they are after giving birth. They are more likely to happen in people who have to end a pregnancy because of health reasons, people who do not have support around their decision to have an abortion, or people who have a history of mental health problems. Most people feel relief after an abortion.” Really?! To say that these are untruths would be an understatement! I don’t think my friend Karen was “relieved,” nor are the 81% of women who struggle to find peace after getting an abortion.
In addition to mental illness, women who have undergone an abortion are more likely to have problems with drug and alcohol addiction. Elliot Institute researchers found that of the women surveyed, those who aborted their first pregnancy were 3.9 times more likely to engage in subsequent drug or alcohol abuse than those who have never had an abortion. These new findings have a high degree of statistical significance, p<.0001, which means that there is less than 1 chance in 10,000 that these findings could have occurred due to chance.
The abuse of drugs and alcohol comes as no surprise. These women are most likely trying to dull the pain and agony of the reality of their choice – because of their actions, a beating heart was stopped, a tiny life was torn and dismembered. This realization is far too difficult to bear. Thomas Strahan, a researcher with the Association of Interdisciplinary Research said; “Post-abortion women are more likely to engage in drug and alcohol abuse, often as a means of “numbing” negative feelings stemming from the abortion. This will in turn affect their ability to function in the workplace and may inhibit their ability to enter into meaningful relationships.”
Time for a reality check
Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute says, “…it is time to worry less about the symbolism of legal abortion and more about its reality. Abortion does not free women. It simply enslaves them in a new way.” It is time we acknowledge the horrible effects of abortion on women. We owe it to women everywhere to tell them the truth about abortion and its damaging impact on their future happiness and well-being.
Suzanne Smith is a mother of three and a grandmother of three. She has been married for 33 years. She is passionate about marriage and the family and its crucial role in society.
LaRenda Sommers has been married to her high school sweetheart for 31 years. She is a mother of five and a grandmother of 10. Family is the priority in her life.