If abortion is empowering to women, then it must not hurt women. Let’s see what science and women themselves have to say:
What does science tell us?
The most comprehensive and largest study of the mental health risks associated with abortion,was published on September 1, 2011, in the prestigious British Journal of Psychiatry. The study was a meta-analysis that examined 22 other studies that had been published between 1995 and 2009. The study involved 877,181 women – 163,831 of whom had abortions.
Here’s what the study found:
Women who have had an abortion have an 81% higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion.
Women who aborted have a 138% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth.
Women who aborted have a 55% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women with an “unplanned” pregnancy who gave birth.
Women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety (34% higher), depression (37%), alcohol use/misuse (110%), marijuana use (230%), and suicidal behavior (155%) compared to those who have not had abortions.[Dr. Coleman’s meta-analysis excluded studies that were potentially biased or weak. The meta analysis only included studies that were published in peer reviewed journals, had at least 100 women participating, controlled for prior history of mental health or abuse (that could have skewed the results), and compared women to those who had not had abortions with those who had abortions.]
Further studies from all around the world confirm health risks for women who have abortions:
According to the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, documentation shows that since 1957, 58 out of 74 (78%) research studies conducted in 22 countries confirmed an increased risk of breast cancer following induced abortion. In one of the most recent meta-analysis studies conducted in China in February of 2014, a 44% increased risk of breast cancer was found after a woman had one induced abortion (a 76% increase following two induced abortions and an 89% increase following three induced abortions).
A recent study published in Bangladesh in 2013, found women were over 20 times more likely to get breast cancer if they had a history of induced abortion.
In Canada, a study reported that 25% of women who had had abortions visited a psychiatrist over a 5 year period, compared to 3% of women how had not had abortions.
A comprehensive and detailed study in Finland examined female medical history over their lifetime and uncovered that women who had abortions had a rate of suicide in the year following their abortions three times greater than all women of reproductive again – and six times greater than women who gave birth. The researchers gave two possible conclusions: either abortion poses a risk to mental health or there are common risk factors for both abortion and suicide.
As we examine these percentages, it is vital that we recall that for over 40 years, 1 – 1.6 million women have abortions in the United States every year. Taking the Canadian study for example, 25% of 1.3 million women who had abortions in one year… is 325,000 women suffering.
What do the post-abortive women we’ve counseled for 48 years tell us?
For 48 years, Illinois Right to Life has offered counseling and support for women who have had abortions. Our experiences counseling women reflect those found in the studies above.
One woman who was pregnant as the result of rape told us, “I know this sounds terrible. I’d rather be raped again than to ever have to go through with another abortion.” She knew we could understand the horror associated with rape and wanted us to understand that abortion violated her even more than that.
Other women share with us that they use drugs, alcohol, and suicidal attempts to cover up the pain of abortion. They stayed in abusive relationships following the abortion because they wrongly thought they deserved it. One woman shared she cannot use the hand dryers in the women’s bathroom because the sound of the hand dryer is the same sound the machine made as it vacuumed out her child. Other women say it’s the song she heard in the waiting room or the smell of the abortion doctor’s perfume that triggers the nightmares.
Women share with us that they struggle to bond with children after the abortion or they struggle with fertility. We’ve dried the tears of women who pour out their hearts to us telling us about the pain of their abortion over the phone, after talks we give, in our communities, and at social events.
The pain and agony we have witnessed first hand along with the firm scientific studies, have brought us to the point where we would never recommend abortion as healthy or good for any woman.
What do women tell the largest post-abortive healing ministry in the nation?
The Catholic Church runs the nation’s largest post-abortion healing program called Project Rachel. The ministry is for Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, and those of no faith at all. Project Rachel connects those hurting from abortion with professional help that the individual requests such as: psychologist specially trained in abortion healing, drug and alcohol addiction counselors, support groups with other women and/or priests. Here’s the Catholic Church’s statement on the pain of abortion:
“The staff, priests, and counselors in Project Rachel, the Church’s post-abortion ministry are well aware of the mental health problems women experience following an abortion. The national Project Rachel ministry website, which lists offices to call for confidential help, receives countless letters from women and men expressing profound anguish, sometimes for decades after an abortion. Thousands of tragic personal stories are posted in chat rooms and on message boards like those at www.afterabortiortion.com”
The Archdiocese of Chicago has shared that they receive an average of five calls per day from women and men seeking healing from the pain of abortion.
We cannot and will not state that all women who have abortions will feel the hurt and pain as laid out above. That would be scientifically incorrect and unfair to project how someone will feel. We can conclude with the support of significant rigorous scientific evidence and decades of experience that abortion causes profound pain to an extremely large number of women. The science shows women who choose life instead of abortion have dramatically reduced health risks associated with breast cancer, mental health, and more.
We do not advance women’s rights by hurting women. We do not advance feminism by telling women something that can cause profound pain and be detrimental to their health is “empowering” or “good.” That’s not women’s rights. That’s torture.