What Therapeutic Challenges Are Associated With Abortion?
Abortion isn’t an easy topic. Pro-choice/ pro-life / pro-birth – these are all polarizing positions that mask the deep emotional difficulties and challenges of abortion.
50% of all pregnancies are unintended and 30% of American women will choose to have an abortion by age 45.
Although women are typically silent about abortion, studies show that the predominant emotion following an abortion is relief (often accompanied by guilt, sadness, or grief).
For some women, the grief of abortion isn’t transitory. Post-abortion depression is not uncommon. Although abortion will touch every woman differently, factors that predispose women to post-abortion grief/depression include:
- Spiritual Beliefs: Religious or pro-life convictions that run counter to abortion
- Disapproving Family Members: Lack of familial, spousal, or partner support; encountering unanticipated backlash from loved ones; or grieving a breakup/separation in the aftershock of the abortion
- Stigmatization: Living in a community where abortion is deemed unacceptable and feeling the sting of social stigmatization
- Fluctuating Hormones: Post-abortion hormonal changes (similar to postpartum depression) as the body readapts to pre-pregnancy hormonal levels
- Mental Health Status: Pre-abortion mental health challenges (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.)
- Forced Abortion: Undergoing a “forced” abortion at the urging or coercion of family members, sexual partners, or abusers
- Therapeutic Abortion: Undergoing a therapeutic abortion, or medical procedure that safeguards the mother’s health and safety in the event of an ectopic pregnancy or maternal health complications, etc.
- Traumatic Abortion Experiences: Encounters with protesters at the abortion site; state restrictions on abortion that limit public funding and access to abortion clinics, or pre-abortion requirements including anti-abortion counseling or viewing an ultrasound of your unborn child; adverse experiences with crisis pregnancy centers, etc.
- Misinformation: Absorbing harmful information about abortion from biased and non-factual sources: fearing that you will no longer be able to bear children; that your risk of breast cancer is now elevated; or that your prognosis for encountering health complications is grim, etc.
Why Do Some Women Choose Abortion?
Counseling for abortion issues isn’t simply for women who have already had an abortion.
Many women who are confronted with an unplanned pregnancy are uncertain as to how they should proceed: whether to choose adoption, abortion, or parenthood. And, while it may seem like every person in your life has an opinion: only you can make the right decision for you!
If you’re contemplating abortion, it can feel good to know that you’re not alone.
Common reasons why women choose abortion include:
- Birth control or contraceptive failure
- Unpreparedness to become a parent or preferring not to have any children
- For current parents: Desiring not to have any additional kiddos
- Being unable to afford the expenses associated with pregnancy and child-rearing
- Not wishing to place education or career on pause
- Not wishing to raise a child as a single parent
- Relationship instability
- Maternal or fetal health problems
- To avoid judgement for being sexually active
- To terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest
How Can Therapy & Counseling For Abortion Issues Help Me?
Therapy empowers a woman considering abortion with the factual information and resources to make an informed choice. Counseling for abortion issues can help you
- Arrive at your own conclusions about abortion, adoption, or parenthood with the unbiased, accurate, and unconditional support of a licensed therapist
- Connect with resources and information about abortion (legal restrictions in your state; provider locations; scientific, non-politicized information about abortion and reproductive health, etc.); adoption (access to state or private adoption agencies); or parenthood (prenatal education and healthcare services; parenting skills development classes, etc.)
- Articulate your decision to have an abortion to your partner (in Couples or Marriage Counseling)
- Process complex emotional reactions before and after the abortion (including sensations of sadness, guilt, regret, loss, relief, grief, or happiness)
- Accept emotional support for your decision—when family members vocalize their disapproval or your community stigmatizes women who choose abortion
Counseling for an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy can also help
- Resolve spiritual distress after electing to have an abortion that contradicts your religious beliefs
- Connect to medical intervention for causes of post-abortive (or postpartum) hormonal imbalances
- Manage the grief of a forced or therapeutic abortion, or a pregnancy that results from sexual abuse or incest
- Access alternative therapies, such as meditation, mindfulness, or psychotherapeutic yoga, as a proven method to instill relaxation and stress management as you navigate difficult decisions and complex emotions