Many abortion advocates deny the existence of grief after abortion, whilst at the same time often acknowledging the grief from miscarriage or stillbirth. Yet the grief of loss from abortion is often more complex for both the woman and those around her. With research evidence that up to 20% of women suffer serious prolonged mental health adverse harm following abortion, and abortion being among the most common of procedures in our country, the numbers of women suffering in our community is very significant. The loss to our communities in productivity, and family and social participation is enormous, yet there is little in the way of ongoing acknowledgement or support for women during this tragic time.
This site provides a forum for the stories of women who regret or are grieving their abortions. It is a useful site for women who are contemplating abortion and who want to know all the possibilities, as well as for women who are grieving and want to know they are not alone.
US Psychiatrist, Dr Joanne Angelo writes with great insight about the loss of abortion in this piece:
Grief after induced abortion is often more profound and delayed than grief after other perinatal losses. Grief after elective abortion is uniquely poignant because it is largely hidden. T he post-abortion woman’s grief is not acknowledged by society because the reality of her child’s death is not acknowledged. In order to gain her consent for the abortion she has been told that the procedure will remove a “blob of tissue” a “product of conception”, or a “pre-embryo.” She has been assured that her “problem will be solved” and that she will be able to “get on with her life” as though nothing significant had happened.
Yet the pregnant woman knows by the changes in her body that something very significant is happening to her: her menses have stopped, her breasts are enlarging, she is sick in the morning (or all day long), and she knows that the process which has begun in her will most likely result in the birth of a baby in nine months time if allowed to run its course. She is aware of the expected date of delivery and she has often thought of a name for her baby as she has begun to picture the child as he or she would be at birth (Bonding begins very early in pregnancy). All of these feelings and fantasies about her pregnancy must be denied in order to undergo an elective abortion. The pregnant woman is asked to deny the fact that she is carrying a child at all!
Society offers her no support in grieving. Her decision to undergo an abortion is made very quickly without time for calm reflection or seeking advice. The whole process is usually kept secret from her family and friends and professional colleagues, and often even from the father of her child. Abortion clinics offer no “Perinatal Loss Team” to help her deal with her confusing and perhaps overwhelming feelings. She is typically alone, without her partner during the procedure. There is no dead child to hold, no photographs, no funeral, burial, or grave to visit, no consolation from friends, relatives or clergy. Her only memories are of a rushed, painful procedure and of her own efforts to convince herself that what her “abortion counselor” had told her was true.
The psychological defense mechanisms of denial and repression are massively in effect by the time she leaves the clinic. It is not surprising then, that “exit poll” research and studies of the immediate post-abortion days, weeks and months find that women feel relieved and claim to have no adverse psychological aftereffects of elective abortion. When pain and bleeding remind her of the physical assault on her body and when the sudden and unnatural endocrine changes cause her to become emotionally labile, society continues to expect her to act as if nothing had happened. Her attempts to comply with those expectations are at great personal expense. She may begin to dose herself with alcohol or sleeping pills to deal with her nightmares and her feelings of grief and guilt; she may throw herself into intense activity -work or study or attempts to repair her intimate relationships or to develop new ones. When waves of sadness, anger, emptiness, and loneliness overwhelm her she berates herself for not “feeling fine” as is expected of her.
Women who have chosen abortion are often haunted by the obsessive thought, “I killed my baby!” They find themselves alone to cope not only with the loss of the child they will never know, but also with their personal responsibility in the child’s death. Their guilt is not merely subjective or neurotic; it is objective and real. Reminders are all around them — the expected date of delivery, children the same age that their children would have been, a visit to the gynecologist, the sound of the suction machine in the dentist’s office, a baby in a television ad, a new birth, another death experience. Each of these may trigger a breakthrough of guilt, grief, anger, and even despair. This cycle typically continues for many months or years before appropriate help is found because until recently mental health professionals have failed to recognize the many faces of post-abortion grief.