THE EFFECTS OF ABORTION ON THE MOTHER
The issue of the legalization of abortion is one of the most significant debates of our time. The arguments are highly passionate and emotional, as women and men alike fight for what they believe to be fundamental rights. Often the issue of women’s well-being is thoughtlessly cast aside as the focus remains solely on the issue of life in the womb. The mother’s mental and physical health ought to play a substantial role in the abortion debate. Slogans are carelessly tossed about, and the statistics remain relatively unknown. Yet after careful and thorough research, it becomes abundantly evident that abortion jeopardizes the emotional and mental stability of the mother.
The main intent in this post is to evaluate the effects of abortion on women, yet we would be remiss to neglect the crucial matter of whether the fetus in the womb is a life at all. Without this evidence, there is no case against abortion. The issue of when life begins is pivotal. It is the difference between a woman having some scar tissue scrapped away, and her sanctioning the murder of her baby. Scientists have proven that life does in fact begin at the moment of conception. After a great deal of research, the US Senate agreed, “Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings” (United States). It follows that if the fetus is indeed a living person, then any act to end his or her life is nothing less than murder. If so, then the doctor and nurses who perform the operation and the advisors who advocate it, all have the blood of a defenseless child on their hands. For a woman who has had an abortion, the realization of this knowledge has an enormously negative effect on her mental well-being.
“WOMEN DESERVE CHOICES THEY CAN LIVE WITH”
Unsurprisingly, scientists have discovered a strong link between abortion and emotional trauma. For the purpose of fully understanding these words, the reader can look to the dictionary definitions for aid. Noah Webster’s defines the terms emotional and mental in his American Dictionary of the English Language, “Emotional, adj. 1. Literally, a moving of the mind or soul; hence, any agitation of mind or excitement of sensibility” and “Mental, a. Pertaining to the mind; intellectual; as mental faculties; mental operations; mental sight; mental taste” (“Mental” and “Emotional”). And finally, his definition of stability is as follows, “Stability, n. 1. Steadiness, stableness; firmness. 2. Steadiness or firmness of character; firmness of resolution or purpose; the qualities opposite to fickleness, irresolution, or inconstancy” (“Stability”). These terms will be used frequently throughout this post, as the primary side effect of abortion is that of emotional and mental instability in the woman. This is demonstrated in a study performed by Professor of Human Development, Priscilla K. Coleman. According to the study, a woman who has an abortion faces an 81% increase in her chance of developing mental health issues (Coleman). Furthermore, a study by the University of Otago revealed that over 85% of the 500 women interviewed stated they had negative reactions from their abortion. These reactions included regret, grief, and guilt (Fergusson 420-426). Abortion wreaks havoc on a woman’s mental health. The weight of her decision often causes a lifetime of regret and negative psychological effects. As psychiatrist Theodore Lidz points out, “Much of what goes on in life can be blamed upon others, but the ultimate decision concerning abortion and the refusal to give that new life a chance remains with the mother. The guilt, too, is hers” (Rosen 279). The unique bond between a mother and her child is something precious. It isn’t difficult to imagine the anguish the mother feels when realizing she allowed the abortionist to end a life, especially when that life was her own child.
In order to better understand the emotional struggles abortion causes in women, there is the story of Beatrice Fedor, a woman who experienced two abortions. Both abortions resulted in years of self-loathing and emotional trauma. She chose to share her story in order to inform and encourage women. She disclosed the struggles she has dealt with because of her decision to abort, “Abortion impacts us long after we leave the clinic… women deserve choices they can live with” (Fedor). After marrying, Beatrice became pregnant a third time, and she wanted to have the baby. Yet she explained that her past continued to haunt her, as she slipped into depression. Even after the birth of her son, she felt disconnected from her new baby. In an interview, Beatrice confessed to her extreme mental anguish, “I had nightmares where I would hurt him with knives and say, ‘It’s OK, he can’t feel anything.’ Or he would drown and I couldn’t save him” (Fedor). She felt that this inability to bond with her son was a direct result of her former abortions. Sadly, thousands of women are forced to cope with similar emotional battles as they as they struggle with the reality of their decision. Consequently, abortion cannot be viewed as a safe alternative.
DEFENSE OF WOMEN?
Those who advocate abortion are correct in their concern for the defense of women and their rights. Undoubtedly, the woman is also a person whose needs should be recognized. Even with the knowledge that the infant in the womb is a person, the dignity of the mother must also be respected. Contrary to popular belief, abortion threatens this safety with its numerous negative side effects. In fact, it could be argued that in order to protect a women’s safety and well-being, abortion cannot be an option. For example, according to the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, women who have had a prior abortion have an increased risk of premature births, “Large studies have reported a doubling of EPB (Early Premature Birth) risk from two prior IAs. Women who had four or more IAs experienced, on average, nine times the risk of XPB (< 28 weeks gestation, an increase of 800 percent)” (Rooney, 46). Women are told that having an abortion is taking control of her life and timing, yet most are unaware that this action often prohibits the birth of future children. Having this procedure endangers the choice of having children later. This is one of many examples of how abortion can harm the woman’s body, as well as her future life.
The abortion advocates argue that the mother’s health and mental well-being are reasons enough for condoning the procedure. Yet surveys suggest that the case of a mother’s health being the reason for an abortion is a rare one. According to research performed by Louisiana State Center for Health Statistics and the Utah Department of Health, out of a total of 122,083 abortions performed in 3 abortion clinics, only 0.22% were caused from rape and incest, 0.42% were on account of the mother’s health, and 0.20% were due to birth defects. The total of “hard cases” made up a mere 0.84% of abortions, while 99.16% were performed for “other reasons” (Annual reports). These numbers are on the higher end of the spectrum, as research confirms the astonishingly low numbers of abortions performed out of “necessity.” Using these extreme cases, abortion advocates have justified the deaths of millions of infants. Although these cases do present women and medical practitioners with a difficult decision, this in no way accounts for the other 99% of women who abort their babies. Abortion was legalized to protect women put in difficult positions, and although this small percentage of extreme cases are given a choice, now millions of otherwise healthy women are endangered mental and physically. We as a nation cannot overlook the damaging effects abortion has on women.
THE NEXT STEP
Abortion is a not merely a religious issue for the right-winged fundamentalists to battle out, it is the legalization of the death of millions of babies and the emotional scarring of millions of women. This practice comes at a high price. I propose we reevaluate abortion. Since Roe v. Wade, scientific research has informed us with the effects this procedure has on women. Consequently, it is in our nation’s best interest that we reassess the abortion issue, for the sake of American women. As widely published psychologist and avid feminist Sidney Callahan stated, “The feminist cause is being betrayed by the men and women pushing for public acceptance of the principle of abortion on demand. Arguments used in urging routine abortion deny fundamental values guiding the whole women’s movement” (Callahan 47).