Abortion regret is real and so is the trauma that countless women suffer after undergoing an abortion. Women at times fall prey to the idea that they are incapable of motherhood because they are too young, too old, too poor, too uneducated, too alone, or simply not good enough. Others have believed the lie that preborn children are no more than a “clump of cells.” Every woman struggling with abortion trauma and regret deserves the opportunity to heal. If you have a friend who is living with abortion regret, here are five ways you can help:
1. Become educated on abortion trauma and the effects of abortion on mental health
According to research that analyzed data over the course of 14 years, women who undergo abortions are at a highly increased risk of developing adverse mental health problems. The research, published by Cambridge University Press in 2018, shows that women who have abortions will be:
- 81% more likely to experience mental health problems.
- 34% more likely to experience anxiety.
- 37% more likely to experience depression.
- 110% more likely to use or abuse alcohol.
- 230% more likely to use marijuana.
- 155% more likely to exhibit suicidal behavior.
Likewise, a study titled, “Psychiatric admissions of low-income women following abortion and childbirth” reviewed psychiatric admissions of low-income women following either abortion or childbirth. Researchers concluded that women who had abortions were twice as likely to need psychiatric inpatient care than women who gave birth to their babies, even after controlling for mental health issues prior to pregnancy.
A 2018 article in SAGE Open Med found that abortion is “consistently associated with elevated rates of mental illness” compared to women who have not undergone abortions and that abortion “directly contributes to mental health problems for at least some women.”
A Canadian study revealed that 25% of women who had abortions sought psychiatric care over a five-year period compared to three percent of the control group. In addition, a Finnish study found that women who had an abortion had a three-times greater rate of suicide in the year following than all women of reproductive age, and a six-times greater rate than women who gave birth. A Welsh study found that the rate of suicide after abortion was twice that of women who gave birth.
2. Identify your friend’s needs
When trying to help a friend who is struggling with abortion regret, it’s important to understand just how much she is struggling. Does she simply need someone to listen to her and understand her? For some women, it might be enough to hear someone else say that they believe her and support her. The media tends to deny abortion regret and focuses on abortion as a sort of empowerment. This causes even more pain for women who regret their abortions, because they are led to believe they are alone in their feelings, and are wrong to feel that way. Make sure your friend knows that her feelings of regret are valid and that she is not alone.
But more than just a shoulder to cry on, your friend may need help from a doctor. If your friend is exhibiting signs of depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or suicidal thoughts, she needs immediate medical help. Talk to her about seeking help and help her find that help.
3. Show her love, support, and understanding
While some pro-lifers consider women who have abortions to be murderers, it is important to note that many women are coerced into abortions, made to feel as if they have no other options. While the media portrays the choice of abortion as empowering, and celebrities and TV shows have laughed about abortion and bragged that having an abortion makes a woman feel like God, this is not the experience of most who have abortions.
Your friend will need your love and support along with your understanding, and one way to support her is to point her towards healing resources.
4. Give her resources
Point your friend in the direction of resources that can help her — to groups dedicated to helping women suffering from abortions. These groups allow women to speak with other women who have suffered similar trauma, which can help immensely. Organizations such as Rachel’s Vineyard, Not Forgotten Ministries, Deeper Still, and She Found His Grace can help your friend to heal and forgive herself, as well as to seek God’s healing and forgiveness.
5. The baby’s father
In some cases, the baby’s father may have been the one who coerced your friend into her abortion, but if not, there is a good chance he could also be suffering from abortion regret. If possible, point him toward the directions of post-abortion help ministries as well.
Abortion is a traumatic event and though women (and men) may try to bury their feelings, eventually, the pain they suffered at the hands of the abortion industry and others who pressured them into the abortion will surface. They will need help to get them on the road toward seeking healing.
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