Abortion is said to be empowering for women, and yet, post-abortive women are increasingly revealing how it has negatively affected them. After years of denial, the media is finally giving these women a voice — but not without attempting to reassure the public that women do not actually regret their abortions. A new article for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) profiled some of the women who felt grief after their abortions. Yet despite the testimony from these women, it is the abortion industry, which claims abortion regret is rare to nonexistent, that is instead believed.
“I wonder if that was my son”
One of them was Jessie O’Brien, who got pregnant with her second child when her first was just 10 months old. “Going from one to two so soon was very daunting. I didn’t have a great birth experience with my first, either, so that was still lingering in my mind,” she told ABC, and said she decided to have an abortion. “It’s quite a physical process; you’re still very aware that your body is aborting a fetus. It’s a period on steroids, essentially.”
But now, O’Brien said even years later, she still struggles with the abortion. “When the physical symptoms subside you’re still left with wondering [about] the what ifs,” she admitted. “I’ve had three daughters and so now always in the back of my mind I wonder if that was my son. I wonder if that was a boy. But I’ll never know.”
The “regret… gets deeper and deeper”
Another woman, Sarah, told ABC she outright regrets the decision to abort more as time goes on. “[I felt] relieved at first just because the morning sickness and the nausea was gone,” she said. “[But] ever since then [it’s been] a lot of regret and so many emotions. It’s such a complex thing, it’s really hard to translate into words… it’s almost like the longer time goes by, it gets deeper and deeper.”
She added that it’s harder because people get more wrapped up in ideology than they do helping women like her.
“People are so set in their views that they can be quite close-minded too with pro-life and pro-choice, there’s not really that support for someone who’s been through it,” she said. “I think a lot of people would feel exactly how I feel. It’s just not really spoken about.”
“I felt an emptiness…”
Amanda was buying baby clothes for a pregnant mother when her post-abortion grief hit her. “I’m just there looking at products and all of a sudden my chest started to get really tight, my face started burning,” she told ABC. “I was very agitated, I was very sad; I didn’t know what was happening to me.”
After a traumatic premature delivery and then, a miscarriage, Amanda had four abortions — and has tried to ignore how they affected her.
“I felt an emptiness from that first time and you just push it down, you think, ‘It’s for the best,'” she said. “There needs to be information and transparency about what this can lead to… this is what can happen afterwards, this is what you can feel, this is how it can affect you. Some people… go through ups and downs of depression and despair not really knowing [there’s] any underlying issue.”
“I’d aborted my motherhood”
Marie, who is now 61, grieves because her abortion cost her the chance to be a mother.
“When I’d aborted my child, I’d aborted my motherhood, because I never had children [after that],” she said. “Talk left, talk right, talk what you like. Judge me for having an abortion or having an abortion and then regretting it… but you can’t take away my story. If it can help another woman, even put a name to it or words to it, a language, I’m there.”
Abortion proponents respond: “No evidence that abortion… will impact adversely on mental health”
Narelle is a pregnancy support counselor, who told ABC these feelings aren’t uncommon. “It’s definitely something we’re not aware of enough. [Post-abortion grief] is definitely real,” she said.
Yet Kirsten Black, a gynecologist and professor at the University of Sydney, cited the long-debunked Turnaway Study as “proof” that, though women may grieve, they don’t actually regret their abortions.
“There is going to be a small group of women who do really feel grief and always there is follow up, and women are provided with counselling support should they require it,” Black said. “[But there’s] absolutely no evidence that abortion, statistically speaking, will impact adversely on mental health.”
Though abortion advocates deny it, there are potential negative effects on women after an abortion. And the Turnaway Study did not prove what activists say it did. It had a small sample size, with only 27% agreeing to participate out of the thousands of women asked. Participation dropped even further to 17% in the study’s final year. This alone shows that the study cannot possibly accurately represent post-abortive women. Further, the women who participated were recruited specifically by the abortion industry itself — and even with this collusion, less than 60% of them responded to the survey five years later. It’s therefore impossible to know how many of these women did eventually end up regretting their abortions.
Women should be believed when they speak about how abortion has negatively impacted them. Unfortunately, the abortion industry seems more interested in protecting its bottom line than actually protecting women.
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