Abortion And Harm To Women's Mental Health


Abortion has been a hot debate for many years particularly on its legalization. Some states have legalized the practice especially in developed countries while some states are still reluctant to legalize it. Most of the arguments for and against abortion revolve around morals and the rights of fetuses to life. Debates on abortion also focus on a woman’s physical health. Those who support the legalization of abortion argue that such a move will protect women from unsafe abortions and prevent abortion-related deaths and complications. Rarely do people think about the mental health of women after an abortion.

Does abortion affect women’s mental health?

Studies on abortion and possible effects on mental health indicate that indeed abortion has a psychological effect on women. Abortion is an intention termination of life, which is traumatizing. The process terminates maternal attachments and sometimes women witness a violent death of their unborn child in cases of late abortions. Despite the discussions on the necessity of abortion and women’s right to their health, society has not yet embraced unwanted pregnancies and abortion. Society stigmatizes women whether they choose to terminate their unwanted pregnancies or keep their children. Hence, women are always conscious of this stigma even when abortion is done privately or at very early stages of the pregnancy. Women often experience negative emotions after an abortion such as anger, guilt, shame, regret, loneliness, anxiety, and a low self-esteem.

Sometimes women are unable to cope with the stress associated with abortion. Most abortions are associated with other stressful factors such as unwanted pregnancies, poverty, unsupportive partners, and broken family values. Women often have to contend with several stressful issues when undergoing an abortion. The effect on abortion on women’s mental health depends on their socio-cultural context and their coping mechanisms. In societies and families that have strict cultural beliefs against unwanted pregnancies and abortion, women may develop acute mental health problems. Abortion can have long-term mental problems in women who choose to avoid the negative emotions and societal criticism after an abortion.

Dealing with mental problems associated with abortion

Women often hide and avoid talking about their abortions because of the stigmatization and criticism associated with abortion. This stigmatization might not end as some positions against abortion are deeply rooted in religion. Hence, women ought to be aware of the possible psychological issues that they may experience after an abortion. They should seek help from counselors and psychiatrists before and after an abortion. Women should not ignore the negative emotions after an abortion. They must expect and cope with them immediately to avoid long-term psychological issues.

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