The Secret Trauma of Abortion

I had a strange dream many years ago. Many aspects of it are unusual; the most unusual might be that I remember it so well. My dreams are usually as fleeting as the smoke from a blown out candle.

I was a young mother then. Only two of my five children had been born. In my dream, it was nighttime and I was lying down in the backseat of a moving car. I don’t know who was driving. Perhaps the car was moving of its own accord.

I was on my way to a nearby town–at the time the only place locally where abortions happened. The entire dream was comprised of the two car rides–going there and coming back. The whole way there, I knew that this something had to happen. “I have to do this,” my dreaming inner self said. Ironically, I had the sense that I had no choice.
Then there was the ride home. Nothing in between. No light of the hospital hallways. No smiling or frowning nurse. No doctor reassuring me or disregarding me. No procedure itself.

There was just a ride home in which I felt only regret. As deeply as I felt the opposite conviction on the way there, I felt so profoundly–“I didn’t have to do that.” I awoke with a horror that indelibly impressed the dream in my mind.

For many women, my dream is reality. I only dreamed it. They’ve lived it.

A recent study presumed to prove that 95 percent of women who have abortions have no regrets. But most women (62.5 percent) who had abortions and were asked to participate in the study refused to be involved. Another 15 percent of those who had stayed in the study dropped out later on. And yet another 31 percent dropped out before the end of three years. That’s hardly 95 percent of women who’ve had abortions. That’s hardly even a reasonable sample.

The study further claimed that there is “no evidence of widespread post-abortion trauma syndrome. But it ignored “linkage studies” that showed “an elevated risk of psychiatric admissions following abortion or elevated rates of suicide. Instead, their assessment . . .[was based on] just six emotional reactions they associated with their abortion: relief, happiness, regret, guilt, sadness and anger.”

similar study claimed 80 percent were happy with their decisions to abort. But 76 percent were determined never to have another abortion. It was an experience they would choose never to repeat.

Ramah International reports that many women suffer guilt, numbness, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to bond with their other children after abortion. With one in four women in the US experiencing abortion, that’s a great deal of trauma and lack of family connection.

Crisis pregnancy centers help people (not just mothers) who are dealing with the ramifications of a surprise pregnancy–no matter how it ends. They also help with post-abortion counseling.

Women who have abortions suffer from trauma. Those around them suffer too. For those who favor abortion, that trauma is a secret they prefer to keep.

But many have turned against the pro-choice view. Abby Johnson is notable today because of the movie Unplanned. But Bernard Nathanson had been a pioneer of abortion in the 1970s. He became pro-life before he became a Christian. And Carol Everett had also done abortions. She now speaks against the “pro-choice” perspective. There are others.

Human life is sacred. All of it. Born, pre-born and clinic workers too. Violating that sanctity causes trauma to all involved.

There is healing in Christ. That’s where Johnson, Nathanson, and Everett found it.

Our prayers can help more find that healing too. Today is Day 37 of 40 Days for Life. It’s not too late for you to participate.

Call out to God for the babies, the abortion workers, the mothers, the fathers, and other family members abortion wounds.

Our great God hears and answers.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

24 Replies to “The Secret Trauma of Abortion”

  1. So convicting: “Human life is sacred. All of it. Born, pre-born and clinic workers too. ” YES. Thank you for writing about this.

  2. Statistics are just numbers. One of the first things I learned in my Statistical Reasoning class back in the day is that statistics are almost always influenced by the agenda of whoever is paying the bill for the study.

    I’ve never met an actual woman who’s had an abortion that didn’t speak of it with pain and regret.

    1. So true, Heather! The statistics here are so hard to truly analyze because of the silence so many women hold onto–and the desire of the other side to present abortion as a good thing. Thanks for reading and commenting! God bless!

  3. Thank you for giving us permission to share this. I will!
    When I saw the movie “Unplanned,” I love the way they made it so clear that the prayers of the people outside the abortion clinic were powerful and effective. I truly believe that, and I will be praying today in the ways that you suggested. Thanks so much for speaking out!

  4. I watched “Unplanned” the other night, and I really loved how the main character spoke with one of the girls about to have an abortion, telling her how people will promise her that her life will go back to normal after having her abortion. But even though they could kill her baby, her memories of her baby will remain forever. What a lie it is that having an abortion will fix everything. My prayer is that women deciding will understand this is not a decision that will enable their lives to go back to normal.

  5. Nancy, your dream has me mesmerized. I wonder if the Lord gave it to you as a type of vision for your work and words in the present regarding the fight for life. Because you felt such real emotions experienced by women who “do” make that trip in a car.

    And that’s the problem with studies, they are often full of holes and can’t back up their findings.

  6. Thanks for speaking out and noting some of the flaws with these studies. Years ago I remember a study claiming women had no problems or regrets after an abortion, and it was based only upon asking women about it in the immediate weeks following the abortion. Immediately after one could indeed mostly feel relieved the “problem” is gone. But a reaction to trauma or effects from a decision can and often take time to surface.
    You mentioned Dr. Bernard Nathanson. I reviewed his book, that I highly recommend, on my blog. Link here:

  7. I’m not up on all the statistics you mention, but I do know one woman’s story. She aborted her child, while married, and never told her husband. She eventually had two more children with this man. The silent suffering she has had since her abortion is horrific.

    She has been in and out of psych wards, tried to kill herself multiple times, and suffers from eating disorders. All because she cannot forgive herself for that abortion.

    Abortion may seem to a mom who is not ready to have kids like a good idea, one that will give back her life; but in the end, killing her baby takes her life away bit by bit in sorrow. It’s quite sad.

    1. I love this: “killing her baby takes her life away bit by bit in sorrow.” So profound! Thank you, Marcie! God bless! And may that woman find forgiveness from God and from herself!

  8. I think most women, if they were truly honest, must feel some regret. Sadly, most may not even understand what they’ve done, as they may not know of how things work in the procedure. With movies out like “Unplanned”, more people will begin to recognize this as something that must be prevented at all costs. For women who’ve had abortions, Care Net Pregnancy Centers actually have counseling groups to help them cope with their decisions. This is such a challenging crisis in our times!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Care Net is so wonderful. You’re right about so many people not realizing the truth about abortion. But eventually, truth comes. Then they know and must have forgiveness to get healing. God bless!

  9. Even “Jane Roe” of Roe v Wade has become an outspoken leader in the pro life movement, due to the compassion shown her, despite her personal abortion and role in the infamous law. Women regret abortions. Several clients who came into the crisis pregnancy center I worked at had a history of abortion; sometimes, this child was their “atonement” for the baby they killed.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Candice. People need to realize that the baby just doesn’t go away. These children remain in and on the hearts of their mothers. Thanks and God bless!

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