While proponents of abortion argue that it is a safe and necessary procedure for women, there is evidence to suggest that abortion is not a safe procedure. Both surgical and medication/chemical abortions have serious risks, so it’s important that you understand some of the potential negative consequences or side effects before making a decision. Informed decisions are the best kinds of decisions.
Risks Associated with Abortion
Abortion is a medical procedure that terminates a pregnancy. While abortion is legal in many countries, including the United States, it does not mean abortion is safe. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, complications from abortion include bleeding, infection, and damage to the reproductive organs (2015). In addition, studies have shown that abortion can have negative effects on a woman’s mental health. For example, one study found that women who had undergone an abortion were more likely to use drugs and alcohol during pregnancy (Coleman, Reardon, & Cougle, 2005).
Another study found that women who had undergone an abortion were more likely to experience mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse (Fergusson, Horwood, & Boden, 2013). In some cases, abortion can even lead to death. A study conducted in Finland found that women who had undergone an abortion were more likely to die within a year of the procedure (Gissler, Hemminki, Lönnqvist, & Suvisaari, 1996). These risks are not limited to surgical abortions, as medication/chemical abortions can also have serious complications (Grimes, 2006).
The risks associated with abortion are not only physical but also psychological. Studies have shown that women who undergo an abortion are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders (Fergusson et al., 2013; Reardon & Cougle, 2002). These negative effects can be long-lasting and may even increase the risk of future mental health problems (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2015). Additionally, many women experience regret after they experience an abortion. This regret may not happen immediately or even within a couple of years – many women only begin to process their emotions from an abortion years, or even decades, after having one.
Abortion can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional and psychological well-being. Many women experience a range of emotions after an abortion, such as guilt, shame, sadness, and regret. A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women who had abortions were more likely to experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse compared to women who did not have abortions. Additionally, some women may experience post-abortion syndrome, a type of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can occur after an abortion. This syndrome can cause symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and depression. It’s important for individuals to have access to emotional support after an abortion to address any emotional trauma they may be experiencing.
Societal Impacts of Abortion
Moreover, research has shown that abortion can have broader societal implications. A study published in the Eastern Economic Journal found that there is a correlation between the legalization of abortion and an increase in crime rates (Priscilla, 2019). The study found that the legalization of abortion resulted in a significant increase in the number of children born to unmarried, low-income women, who were more likely to be involved in criminal activity. That isn’t to say that anyone who has or has had an abortion is low-income or unmarried – or thatbeing either of those things is inherently negative. It just means that there are socio-economic factors that play a role in abortion.
While proponents of abortion argue that it is a safe and necessary procedure for women, the evidence suggests otherwise. Abortion can have serious physical and psychological risks, and it can also have broader societal implications. It is important for women to be aware of these risks and to carefully consider their options before making a decision about abortion. Check out our Abortion Health & Safety Checklist to ensure you’ve taken all of the appropriate steps to be confident in your decision. If you need support or assistance, contact the At Home Abortion Facts team. We’ll be happy to answer questions you might have and direct you to the appropriate resources.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). Induced Abortion. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/induced-abortion
Coleman, P. K., Reardon, D. C., & Cougle, J. R. (2005). Substance use among pregnant women in the context of previous reproductive loss and desire for current pregnancy. British Journal of Health Psychology, 10(2), 255-268.
Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Boden, J. M. (2013). Abortion and mental health disorders:
Evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 203(3), 222-227