Women who experience post-abortion grief say it’s a pain often not recognised and a hard thing to talk about

Jessie O’Brien had a 10-month-old child at house and was weeks into a new job when she turned pregnant for the second time.

“Going from one to two so soon was very daunting. I didn’t have a great birth experience with my first either so that was still lingering in my mind,” Ms O’Brien stated.

She spoke about it together with her accomplice on the time and, at seven weeks into the being pregnant, determined to have a medical termination in June 2013.

“It’s quite a physical process, you’re still very aware that your body is aborting a fetus. It’s a period on steroids essentially.”

While Ms O’Brien nonetheless views the choice as a optimistic one eight years later, a “tinge of sadness” stays together with her.

“When the physical symptoms subside you’re still left with wondering [about] the what ifs,” Ms O’Brien stated.

She stated the dialog and language round abortion had made her termination — and the grief that adopted — a hard thing to talk about.

Sarah* skilled grief quickly after she had her abortion.(



24-year-old Sarah* is much less settled together with her choice to terminate her being pregnant in 2018.

“[I felt] relieved at first just because the morning sickness and the nausea was gone,” Sarah stated.

“[But] ever since then [it’s been] a lot of regret and so many emotions.

Pregnancy support counsellor Narelle* has received calls from people days, weeks, and sometimes years after having an abortion.

She said the calls were more common than most people would realise.

“It’s like something in life, different traumas. Whether it’s bushfires or floods, some folks cope higher than others for no matter purpose,” Narelle said.

“It’s undoubtedly one thing we’re not conscious of sufficient. [Post-abortion grief] is unquestionably actual.”

A row of empty seats.
Women undergoing abortion are no more likely to suffer from mental health problems, research indicates.(

Supplied: Greg Rosenke through Unsplash


No proof of hostile affect on psychological health

University of Sydney gynaecologist Kirsten Black said while some women did feel grief or guilt after abortion, most studies did not show serious links to mental health issues.

Referring to the Turnaway Study — a 10-year examine analyzing the consequences of abortion on 1,000 girls in America — Professor Black stated the vast majority of girls skilled lasting reduction.

“There goes to be a small group of girls who do actually really feel grief and at all times there may be comply with up, and girls are supplied with counselling assist ought to they require it,” Professor Black said.

“[But there’s] completely no proof that abortion, statistically talking, will affect adversely on psychological health.

“You can at all times discover exceptions however principally the proof reveals that there isn’t any distinction in psychological health outcomes.

“I’m not denying it happens but it’s rare and for most women that is not the experience.”

In a 2018 opinion piece, Professor Black cited an article from the Turnaway study, which adopted girls who had terminated their pregnancies over three years.

It concluded that “women had experienced decreasing emotional intensity over time” and discovered 95 per cent of girls reported that having an abortion was the proper choice for them.

‘It’s simply not actually spoken about’

Sarah* stated it may very well be a difficult thing to realise or talk about when it truly occurred to you.

She felt that the deal with her when she was weighing up abortion fell away after she had gone by way of with it.

“People are so set in their views that they can be quite close-minded too with pro-life and pro-choice, there’s not really that support for someone who’s been through it.

Two kids play on a swing.
Some folks experience post-abortion grief down the observe after having youngsters.(

Supplied: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash


In New Zealand, researchers from the University of Otago found a lot of existing research on the topic had been exacerbated by pro-life or pro-choice advocates, making it hard to determine the true effect of abortion on mental health.

The university released a 25-year longitudinal study in 2006 on the link between having an abortion and mental health outcomes for women aged between 15 and 25.

Part of the study examined the effectiveness of previous research on the same topic, which the researchers found to be “controversial and inconsistent”.

“Quite a few research [report] hostile results related to abortion however others [find] no affiliation,” the study said.

“[There has been] an unlucky tendency within the literature on this matter for examine findings to coincide with the ideological views of authors about the desirability of abortion.

Narelle believes there are extra girls grieving on the market — and needing assist — than research recommend.

When grief surfaces

Buying child garments for different expectant dad and mom was one thing Amanda* used to take pleasure in, till 2015.

“I’m just there looking at products and all of a sudden my chest started to get really tight, my face started burning,” Amanda stated.

Pregnancy has by no means been straightforward for Amanda. Her first one a few years earlier led to a miscarriage.

Soon after, her first daughter was born at 28 weeks, weighing simply 900 grams and with a 50 per cent probability of survival. Against the physician’s predictions, she got here by way of tremendous.

“From that experience I had postnatal depression and I was very fearful of being pregnant and having another baby,” Amanda stated.

A 12 months after her daughter was born, Amanda turned pregnant once more and had her first of 4 abortions at 26 years previous.

“I felt an emptiness from that first time and you just push it down, you think, ‘It’s for the best,'” Amanda stated.

Amanda’s grief surfaced when she had different youngsters.

61-year-old Marie* had her first and final being pregnant in 1979.

Four many years after her abortion, she is coming to phrases with the actual fact she is going to by no means be a mom.

This has all surfaced in hindsight. At the time — and for a few years after — she did not suppose twice about her abortion.

Amanda and Marie each attended a retreat in Adelaide, operated by a not-for-profit Christian organisation, for ladies of any or no religion experiencing post-abortion grief.

While the Adelaide retreat has a religion component to it, the organisation counsellor Narelle works for is secular and offers with largely girls who are not spiritual.

A woman stands looking out over a beach with her back to the camera.
“I didn’t care what I had to go through [on retreat] because I’d already lived it, it just had no name,” Marie stated.(

ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham


Dealing with the grief

While Amanda does not consider understanding about post-abortion grief would have modified her thoughts about having her abortions, she could have sought assist earlier.

“There needs to be information and transparency about what this can lead to … this is what can happen afterwards, this is what you can feel, this is how it can affect you,” Amanda stated.

“Some people … go through ups and downs of depression and despair not really knowing [there’s] any underlying issue.”

Marie is studying to be maternal in different methods.

For Marie, revisiting her abortion has not been about altering the previous however making her future a little simpler.

“Talk left, talk right, talk what you like,” Marie stated.

“Judge me for having an abortion or having an abortion and then regretting it … but you can’t take away my story.

*Names have been modified to defend anonymity.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Dr. James Goodall

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *