Model Research Essay


The purpose of my paper is to demonstrate the after-effects of an abortion. Throughout my paper I will show my different reasons why a woman is not emotionally and psychologically unstable after receiving an abortion. There are many controversies whether abortions should be legal or illegal. There are also many controversies about the effects and obstacles to having an abortion. There are statistics of women who have gone through an abortion and statistics about those who have and have not suffered adverse side or after effects. The findings are exemplified by quotations from women and how they have felt after the abortion. Some of these women have gone through abortions illegally and others have gone through it just a few years ago. I then provide the differing opinions of those in social groups such as pro-life and anti-choice against those in pro-choice and scientific studies and journals. Throughout my research I found many statistics about women who have undergone the procedure of abortion. Some of the facts that I found out were quite startling. There have also been many myths through time about women who have had the procedure; about the women specifically and also just false truths as to what really goes on in the operating room. I will also share stories and quotations from real women who had an abortion. The stories that are shared and told others are sometimes hard to grasp. because of preconceived and ill-informed individual views on abortions and emotional responses.

The Real Aftereffects of an Abortion

By Megan Hare

May 10, 2004
"The primary thing I learned is that the choices I make now affect the rest of my life. And nobody has the right to affect the rest of my life without my permission. It's a pervasive thing that has lasted throughout my life. Actions you take now are forever. How I raise my children and everything else. I also learned that the system doesn't always work in my favor and there are times that, for my own good, I have to go around established practice to save myself. That was another major revelation because I am a very moral person and I have very concrete ideas about what is right and wrong. But the most positive and strong thing the abortion did for me was it indicated to me that I have choice, and I matter. I matter to me more than I matter to anybody else, no matter what they say or what our relationship is. Or how much they are trying to help me in their way, I matter to me more than anybody else. So I'd better make good, informed choices. Abortions aren't antilife. Abortions are prolife, my life." A thirty-eight year old office manager who went through three abortions, her first being at age nineteen and is now raising three children said this quote. (7)

First, a few statistics since 1977 to think about:

  1. 3-1.6 million abortions are done per year
  2. 21 % of the women have received an abortion have been between the ages of fifteen and forty-four. (2)

There are many controversies between pro-life groups and scientific studies and proven facts. I will start with the pro-life groups and their assumptions and statistics. The only thing to take into consideration when reading these statements are that when these groups compile their facts, they only pinpoint the negative facts and leave out the positive. When reading the scientific research, the researchers still point out the negative as well as the positive.

Here are a few more statistics that are often presented when the topic comes up (1):

  1. 44% of women complained of nervous responses
  2. 36% of women complained of sleep disturbances
  3. 21% regret their decision of getting an abortion
  4. 11% have been prescribed psychotropic medicine by a doctor.
  5. 19% have suffered from post traumatic stress
  6. 8% have attempted suicide.

The question in each set of responses is, Why? The answers are not the ones usually given.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first sighted in survivors of the Vietnam War. The veterans would have terrible flashbacks of the war that would cause sleep disorders and mental disorders. PTSD is a disorder that overwhelms a person's normal defense mechamsms resulting in intense fear, feelmgs of hopelessness and/or loss of control. PTSD is a result of the tight or flight defense mechanisms in our bodies (1). Some women even feel that the pain of the abortion inflicted up on them by a masked stranger invading their body feels identical to rape.

There are three major categories of post-traumatic stress disorder. They are hyperarousal, intrusion and constriction. Hyperarousal is a person who is seemingly on permanent threats of danger. Intrusion is a re-experience of the traumatic event at ""wanted and unexpected times. Constriction is the numbing of emotional resources or development of behavioral patterns (1).

"I'm glad abortion is legal now because of the physical danger that peple went through. I don't know if it changes how one is going to react emotionally. If my mindset is to do this because it's what I have to do it's going to be the same whether it's legal or illegal." Lila who had the abortion procedure done when abortions were still illegal said this (10).

Abortions are now all done in a safe and legal environment. There is much evidence now that proves that the typical abortion patient is a normal, mentally stable woman who makes a strongly determined decision for an abortion within a few days after discovery of a pregnancy, and comes through the procedure virtually unharmed (2).

Most of the women who do suffer from long-term stress are those who were denied an abortion or those whose surroundings were harmful. Distress and long-term adversity may occur in some women but it is usually a small percent affected (4).

There have been hundreds of studies done in the past thirty years. Most of these studies you can find in the articles in the Science and American Journal of Psychiatry. Throughout these articles it is noted that psychological disturbances do occur after an abortion but they are uncommon and generally mild and short-lived. The serious or constant problems are rare and are frequently associated to the conditions surrounding the abortion and not the procedure itself (2).

For example, feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt and regret do occur in 5-30% of woman but usually subside in a matter of weeks (2). These articles and reviews showed that 75% of women who had an abortion have a feeling of relief and/or happiness. The most common post abortion reaction is relief (7):

"The biggest thing that I remember feeling was relief, because at neither of those times in my life was I ready to accept the responsibility of being a parent again, because I already had a child, or had children." This was said by a forty-four year old psychologist who is now a mother of three but had an illegal abortion performed at the age of eighteen and a legal abortion performed at the age of twenty-eight (7).

For many women who have undergone this procedure years down the road looking back on their decision, the abortion has been a positive experience because it made them a stronger person and gave them motivation to refocus their lives in a meaningful way (2). Some positive effects of the post abortion are a maturing experience, a successful coping of a person crisis and 98% of the women who have had an abortion have no regrets (9). Some other feelings that are felt post operative are the feelings of self worth, self image and self esteem. After all the debating of whether or not she should get an abortion and then deciding to go through with the procedure many women feel delighted because they feel they are able to have control over their own lives (7):

"I learned a certain kind of self-reliance. It was the first thing that happened to me that I had to go through completely alone. It was probably the first time I really had to stand up for myself." A forty-four year old stated this after having an abortion at the age of thirty-four.

The Royal College of Practitioners and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists performed a study of 30,000 pregnant women. These studies showed that only 2.4% of their patients had suffered from short-term psychological problems after the abortion (4). Another study was performed on 442 women who were to be assessed four times. One hour before the procedure, one hour after the abortion, one month following the procedure and two years after the abortion. During the assessments they were questioned on their moods, depression and PTSD. The results were surprising. In the two-year follow up, 70-75% of the women were satisfied with the abortion. 80% of the women were not depressed. And only 1% had suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. The evaluation of this study provides strong evidence that minimal adverse psychological effects occur (5):

"We need to repeat and make known these findings of minimal regret and minimal psychological problems. We also need to say that some women report only positive feelings after their abortions and are quite at peace with themselves" (7).

"The truth is that there is a small, but real, minority of women who need help and compassion because they are hurting and linking that hurt to their abortion decision" (7)

The literature suggests that women who are unhappy with their decision often belong to a support group such as Women Exploited by Abortion and Victims of Choice. Many of these so- called support system groups emphasize the negative effects of the abortion and preach the harmfulness to others -- to deter and frighten them from making a freely reasoned decision on their own behalf and from a common sense of the realities of their situation and not a "counterfactual" presentation of what they have missed loaded with guilt and shame (2).

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Reardon, David (1997). A List of Major Psychological Sequelae of Abortion. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:
    This website offers facts, resources and testimonies about the after effects of abortion. The after abortion website will help women and their significant others learn how to cope with their decision. One drawback of the website is it's not deliberately comforting.
  2. Arthur, Joyce (1997, January). Psychological After-Effects of Abortion: the Real Story. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:
    This website is somewhat like the one above in giving different statistics and testimonies. The uses of this website are realizing that this page was designed from someone that really did go through the procedure.
  3. Baptists for Life (2001). Baptists for Life - Effects of Abortion. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:
    This site has a lot of religious aspects to the procedures and also questions and answers, testimonies and research. The uses of this website are to show faith and strength in the woman, to let them know that they are not alone. One drawback would be if someone were not religious, this website would not help them one bit.
  4. Frank el al (2000). After Effects of Abortion. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:

  5. Major, B., Cozzarelli, C., Cooper, M., Zubeck, J., Richards, C., Wilhite. M.., Gramzow, R. (2000). Psychological Issues - The PsychologicaflEffects of First Trimester Abortion. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:
    This website has a lot of medical research and will answer a lot of questions dealing with the psychological aspects. The uses of this website show some studies and methods that have been tried on women. One drawback would be that this website is all strictly information and analysis and no uplifting words or sympathy.
  6. Baird, R., & Rosenbaum, S. (2001). The Ethics of Abortion (Third Edition). New York: Prometheus Books.
    This book has a lot of facts and statistics and shows some reasoning behind the decisions to receive abortions. The uses are to help people be more aware of what abortion is all about and how it usually is or can be a positive experience.
  7. Eunneborg, Patricia (1992). Abortion; A Positive Decision. New York: Bergin & Garvey.
    This book goes through testimonies of women who have received abortions and their feelings of no regrets. The uses of this book are to show all the positive feelings and to let women know that they are not alone, their decision is a common one and it is not wrong to make the decision to have an abortion.
  8. Maior et al (2000). "Psychological Responses of Women After First - Trimester Abortion," Science and American Journal of Psychiatry, 55, 777-784.
    This journal essay is all facts of the psychological after affects of abortions. The use is to show that almost all the women are okay and not at all deeply scarred, much less beyond belief.
  9. Adier, Nancy (2001, November). The Emotional Effects of Induced Abortion. Retrieved April 2004 from George Mason University, Web site:
    This website is a fact sheet from an organization that performs abortions. The uses of this website are to let women know where to go, what happens, and to empower them to make their own decisions.
  10. Messer, Ellen & May, Kathryn (1994). Back Rooms: Voices from the Illegal Abortion Era. New York: Prometheus Books.
    This book was amazing. It tells all accounts of some women who received an abortion when it was illegal. The uses of this book is to show how women are going to do what they need and therefore want to do whether it's legal or not. The only drawback of this book was how frightened it can make someone when she considers what abortion was like before it was legal.

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Page Last Updated: 22 January 2005.