Psychological Effects of Abortion on Women

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The psychological effects of abortion on women are a significant issue of scientific investigation, discussion, and controversy. Abortion is a common healthcare intervention classified either as induced or spontaneous. Induced abortion is a procedure done on pregnant women to end the pregnancy, mainly carried out before the first 12 weeks. Spontaneous abortions on the other hand are involuntary terminations which occurs before 28 weeks of gestations due to common complications in pregnancies. According to World Health Organisation, more than 73 million abortions are carried out annually worldwide. 45% of these abortions are unsafe 6 out of every 10 of all unintended pregnancies globally end up in induced abortions (World Health Organization, 2021). In comparison, 97% of them occur in third-world countries. Abortion experiences differ with each woman and the reasons for conducting the abortion. For instance, an individual who experiences spontaneous abortion of a wanted pregnancy may be more affected than a safe abortion of an unwanted pregnancy. Abortion, whether spontaneous or induced, poses moderate to high-risk psychological effects to the women. This includes depression and the use of substances and drugs.

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Firstly, the termination of pregnancy leads to most women experiencing depressive disorders. Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent adverse emotions of loss of interest in routine activities and sadness. Depressive disorders further affect how one thinks, feels, and behaves. Women who had an abortion, either spontaneous or induced, have a 37% chance of developing depressive disorders after the abortion (Laguna Treatment Hospital, 2022). Considerably, women who undergo spontaneous abortions experience a higher rate of depressive illness than women who undergo abortions willingly. Depression due to an abortion mainly appears in the first three months after the abortion and may persist for a year for some. Terminating a pregnancy, whether spontaneous or induced, inhibits his feelings of sadness, loss, grief, and regret. Women who experience spontaneous abortion may consider themselves failures or consider the abortion as their fault. Abortions pose a major threat to women’s physical health, enhancing the risks of depressive disorder such as uterine perforation, haemorrhage, incomplete abortion, and the damage to the internal organs. These threats include the genital tract resulting from the insertion of dangerous objects into the reproductive organs during the procedure, especially for unsafe abortions (Grossman et al., 2022, para 13). Additionally, abortion s inhibits feelings of regret, for instance, on induced abortions (Zareba et al., 2020, p. 478). This creates fear among most women regarding their abilities to conceive in the future or the financial burdens they pose in treating these physical health risks after the abortions. Additionally, depressive disorders among women may result from cultural beliefs and stigmatization based on religion, hence intensifying the disorder’s symptoms.

Secondly, abortion, both spontaneous and induced, enhances women’s risks of drug and substance abuse. To a large extent, abortion leads to feelings of shame, fear of the unknown, guilt for ending life, and the desperations associated with the decision to consider abortion and the life after the event. Abortion is a traumatic event to majority of the women accompanied by fears of both the future health and social threats posed by abortion and the decision to abort (Moseson et al., 2020, p. 91). Similar to other traumatic events in human life, majority of the women who undergo abortion result to the use of drugs and substance to ease their mental health issues such as stress and depression associated with the event. The women might also adopt substance and drug use to take away the experiences of anguishing pain or generally to forget the experience (Sullins, 2019, para 23). Considerably, the use of drugs and substances may result in the individual suffering from abuse due to the extended period the unique experiences, the depressive effects of the traumatic events, and the inability of the majority to seek professional help. This results from the constant dependencies on drugs and substances. The dependencies on drugs and substances further result in psychological issues, thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and additional problems such as isolation from society to avoid aspects such as social stigma.

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In conclusion, abortion, whether spontaneous or induced abortion poses significant psychological effects on the mothers. The range of psychological disorders differs with the individual, the type of abortion, and the social and economic aspects of the individual’s surroundings. Abortion leads to depressive disorders, with most of the affected suffering from the effects for three months and a minority undergoing long-term depressive disorder that extends beyond a year after the traumatic event. The fear of the unknown, grief from the loss, regrets, and social stigmatization intensify the abilities of women suffering from depressive disorders. Additionally, abortions lead to drug and substance abuse. Most women suffering from the effects of the traumatic event, such as depression, turn to the use of drugs and substances to deal with their pain or forget the traumatic event, which leads to dependence and later abuse.

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  1. Grossman, D., Perritt, J., & Grady, D. (2022). The impending crisis of access to safe abortion care in the US. JAMA Internal Medicine, 182(8), 793. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.2893
  2. Laguna Treatment Hospital. (2022, June 2). Abortion and mental health impact. Laguna Treatment Hospital. https://lagunatreatment.com/support-for-women/mental-health-abortion/
  3. Moseson, H., Herold, S., Filippa, S., Barr-Walker, J., Baum, S. E., & Gerdts, C. (2020). Self-managed abortion: A systematic scoping review. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 63, 87-110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2019.08.002
  4. Sullins, D. P. (2019). Affective and substance abuse disorders following abortion by pregnancy intention in the United States: A longitudinal cohort study. Medicina, 55(11), 741. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55110741
  5. World Health Organization. (2021, November 25). Abortion. WHO | World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/abortion
  6. Zareba, K., La Rosa, V. L., Ciebiera, M., MAKARA-STUDZISKA, M., Commodari, E., & Gierus, J. (2020). Psychological effects of abortion. An updated narrative review. Eastern Journal of Medicine, 25(3), 477-483. https://doi.org/10.5505/ejm.2020.82246
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