- 83% of the women said they were changed by their abortions, with 77% saying the change was negative.
- 77% said they regretted their abortions.
- 60% reported feelings of isolation and alienation.
- 38% reported problems with anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and/or suicidal thoughts as a result of the abortion.
- 50% said the baby’s father or other family members “used negating language as a means to justify a woman’s need for an abortion.”
Those who experienced “negating language” from the baby’s father or others were pressured to have abortions. Keeping the baby was portrayed in a negative light. Some of these reported great pressure put on them to have abortions.
The study found that many women were surprised by how difficult and painful their abortions were and were poorly prepared by abortion workers. One woman described her experience with the abortion pill:
They lied to me and said they would give me some pills that would make it just like a late period with a little cramping … The pain of the contractions was so intense I felt like my intestines were pulled out slowly. I collapsed screaming on my bathroom floor, sweat, tears, blood, vomit, and sh*t all over me.
Another woman said:
They told me it wouldn’t hurt and I wouldn’t feel a thing. THAT WAS SUCH A LIE. I felt everything, I heard everything, I seen [sic] everything. I ended up blacking out from the pain and puking all over myself.
A third woman said:
They told me, if you by chance are in pain you can take these pain relievers. If by chance I’m in pain? That sounded like the process would be easy and not so painful. Well NO that was not the case, within 30 minutes I felt really bad cramping. It just kept getting worse and worse. I was crying and moaning from the pain. I literally thought I was dying.
The study found:
[W]omen discussed how they were told certain information about the medication abortion process (e.g., when to take the pills, what the pills do, the need to contact a provider if complications arise), but ultimately this information was insufficient, limited, or misleading …
Within women’s narratives, they expressed a desire for more detailed information about things such as: potential side effects, the intensity of cramping and bleeding, what to do after passing the baby, and potential negative emotions (e.g., fear, uncertainty, sadness, pain) felt after the abortion. When this comprehensive information was not communicated to them prior to taking the pills at home, women reported feeling misled, misinformed, and even deceived.
Women suffered emotionally after their abortions and close to 8 out of 10 regretted them. One woman wrote:
We were told we would go back to normal and it won’t affect us but they were wrong!!! All I feel is emptiness and hatred. I used to be the happiest most positive girl. All I want is to take it back.
Another woman said, “I thought maybe after the due date I would feel better, but it doesn’t end there. It NEVER ends! The pain and emptiness stays there forever.”
Some women became suicidal, with one saying, “I am haunted by the image of my tiny baby. I always will be. I cut myself and even wanted to die.”
There were several women who spoke about the shock of seeing their aborted babies and the way the sight haunted them.
The study points out that many women found their abortion pill experiences very different than they expected. The common narratives from the media and society misled them. Most women had believed the pro-choice rhetoric that abortion is a minor procedure that benefits women. The study says:
Negative changes often occurred when women’s actual abortion experience did not align with their preconceived ideas about what to expect. These ideas were informed by larger discourses from society, as well as messages from others (e.g., health care providers)….
[T]he women alluded to their initial expectations of what the medication abortion would entail or what others told them would happen after their abortion. When a woman’s actual medication abortion experience did not align with these messages, women felt disempowered, vulnerable, lost, upset, and sometimes deceived.
The shock of the actual experience, so much different than the dominant pro-choice narrative, had a negative effect on women. A large majority felt damaged by their abortions and changed for the worse.
The paper also made reference to a Swedish study that found that 43% of women bled more than they expected, with 26% bleeding for more than four weeks. Approximately 34% of Swedish women in that study said they received insufficient information from abortion workers about what to expect when taking the abortion pill.
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