The Hidden Effects of Abortion on Women and Men
For many (but not all) abortion can have an unwelcome impact*, why is this? To create and nurture a human life is one of our deepest and most profound instincts as human beings. Pregnancy bestows a mantle of parenthood upon a woman, and also upon a man. At the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant she becomes a mother. A man becomes a father.
When a woman becomes pregnant both her body, and her mind, start to prepare for the arrival of her child. The truth is that without an abortion a child would have been born, that five or six months later a birth would have taken place. An abortion interrupts this process and therefore has the potential to impact body, mind and soul (and from the Christian perspective also their faith). At a very deep level, pregnancy – no matter how brief – connects men and women with their child, whereas abortion leaves them suspended or disconnected.
To help us understand this it might be helpful to think about what happens after a miscarriage. When we hear stories of a miscarriage we are readily able to understand and empathize with the pain and loss experienced. What is less understood is that an abortion also has the potential to be felt as an event similar to a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Abortion can therefore have a powerful effect emotionally, psychologically and spiritually:
- Emotionally it can be experienced as a loss or bereavement on a par with miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Psychologically if abortion is experienced as trauma and the powerful emotions surrounding the abortion are denied or suppressed this can lead to depression and other effects that we see on our course**.
- Spiritually, guilt and shame can create a barrier with God. One woman said “I used to pray God would use me powerfully. Since this happened I cannot pray or go to church”.
Our course is extremely successful at healing women and men, helping them overcome these effects. It is particularity powerful because it is run in the Christian setting and our greatest joy is to see women and men come alive in their faith again as they realize abortion is not the “unforgiveable sin”, which is what their subconscious sense of shame may have been telling them. Men can be affected in just the same way as women, illustrated by the fact that we use the same course for both men and women. As with women, we believe not all men are affected by an abortion, but many are, and the effects of abortion on both women and men are well known and attested***.
To summarize this important point: abortion is not a time machine; it does not turn back the clock, or take a woman back to where she was before she became pregnant. It does not make a woman as if she had never been pregnant. She will always be a woman who has experienced a pregnancy.
*Rue, V. (1995) Post-Abortion Syndrome: A Variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in Doherty, P. (ed). Post-abortion syndrome: Its wide ramifications. Dublin: Four Courts press.
**Coleman, P. K. (2011) Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009 at:
http://bjp-rcpsych.org/Reviewarticles / (Accessed: 5 August 2017).
***See: Rue, V., 1996. The Effects of Abortion on Men. Ethics and Medicine 21 (4): 3–4; Condon, G., and Hazard, D., 2001. Fatherhood Aborted. Carol Stream: Tyndale House; and Coyle, C., 1999. Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing. Fort Collins: Life Cycle Books; and Jones, K. and Cochrane, L., 1996. Healing a Father’s Heart: a Post-Abortion Bible Study for Men. Ada, Michigan: Baker Books.