Report: Post-Abortion Syndrome Survey
248 Women responded to adverts which LIFE placed in six women’s -magazines (including Woman’s Own, Chat and Pick Me Up) between April and early July 2006 inviting people to tell us about their abortion experiences, Of these, 111 were interviewed on the telephone and answered a prepared questionnaire. Fifteen sent emails. 134 texted us – and twelve of these then went on to do a telephone interview.
26 said they had a few or no regrets about their abortions, including one aged 74 who had had three, by the same doctor, in the 1960s and 70s, and another who had aborted twins. Many said that there had been no alternative or it was “the right thing” at that moment in their lives, though they would not want to do it again. Nine others were undecided when asked if they would have gone ahead with abortion if they had known what the after-effects would be.
But the overwhelming majority, 204 out of 248, deeply regretted what had happened. 64 out of the 96 who answered the question “if you had known what the effects might be would you have gone through with the abortion?” answered “no”, sometimes very emphatically. Almost all those 96 were adamant that women ought to be given more information and more counselling beforehand.
Many had suffered severe post-abortion symptoms. 14 had seriously contemplated or attempted suicide (one had tried to hang herself), 15 had become alcoholics, three reported eating disorders (including three years of anorexia), five confessed to resorting to drugs, several simply said they went off the rails. Four had “atonement” babies quickly.
And the familiar symptoms of PAS have been reported again and again: anger, shame, guilt, self-hatred, loss of confidence, nightmares, flashbacks, the pain of anniversaries – of abortions or the birthdays that never were – and Christmases.
The following comments are typical: “it completely ruined my life”, “I felt crippled, crucified, stupid, insane”, “I felt dirty and ashamed”, “I’m totally grief-stricken, I want my baby and I feel like a monster”, “it was the worst mistake of my life… I cry all the time”, “every baby I see I yearn for the one I got rid of”.
Only three respondents said they had any earlier history of mental disease. Some reported that the doctors and nurses had been kind. But more talked of being treated “like cattle”, “conveyor-belted” and “pushed by bossy nurses”. They described the bleak atmosphere of waiting rooms and abortion clinics, and how they were often crying when they came round from the anaesthetic.
Many were angry because they had received little or no counselling beforehand and been given little or no warning of what the operation could do to them. There had been a brief mention of possible discomfort and bleeding, but that was usually all.
There is one particularly horrifying story of a woman who recently had a chemical abortion in Liverpool. Driving home from the Family Planning Clinic where she had taken the second drug (to produce miscarriage) she had suddenly started contractions and stopped at the nearest petrol station – where she delivered her dead child. She flushed the body down the lavatory there and remains traumatised by her experience.
Two other respondents became so distressed that they had difficulty in completing the interview with us. They and nine others who said that they needed help were referred to the National Helpline so they can receive post-abortion counselling. One caller said “simply talking to you has helped me.”
Some of the telephone respondents had had their abortions recently, i.e. less than a year ago. But the majority were reporting events that took place long since. A 61-year-old had had her abortion in 1970 and still feels “very guilty and sad”; another 30 years on and [has] never stopped grieving”. An Australian woman, who had had an abortion in 1988, said that she had been able to speak to only one person about it until she phoned us.
On average, our telephone callers have been reporting abortions which took place 12 years ago – a very striking fact. It underlines what we have always been saying about the need for long-term studies of PAS and the worthlessness of studies (on which the medical Establishment depends so much) which cover only a short period of post-abortion time.
LIFE is now supporting many of these women so that, “silent no more”, they can publicly refute the repeated claims of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Department of Health that post-abortion syndrome is a myth.
Taken with permission from LIFENEWS Autumn 2006, Issue 50, the magazine of the UK’s leading pro-life charity. Further copies available from firstname.lastname@example.org
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