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Does Abortion Have Severe Psychological Effects?

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Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by destruction of a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus before birth, prior to the time when the fetus attains viability, or capacity for life outside the uterus (Encyclopedia, 1995, p.43). Currently almost twenty-five percent of pregnancies in the United States are aborted. About one forth of people who abort are teenagers, fifty-seven percent are younger than 25, and almost eighty percent are unmarried. During the first trimester is when most of the abortions take place. Only about ten percent are performed later in the pregnancy (Slife, 1998, p.329). Abortions go back as far as Ancient Greece where it was used as a type of population control. Then in the Roman Times men had total control over the procedure. "Man could give law-enforced command that his wife have an abortion, or he could punish or divorce his wife for having one without his consent" (Encyclopedia, 1995, p.43).

Today many people ask the question, does abortion have severe psychological effects? People that are pro-life claim that most women who abort their unborn child suffer from many negative effects, such as guilty feelings, anxiety, depression, loss, anger and even suicide. In one case a woman had an abortion assuming that it would take away all of the stress of being pregnant and thinking about the consequences of having a child. Afterwards she said, "I was unprepared for the maze of emotions that hit me after I had the procedure. Instead of feeling relieved, I was awash in anxiety and confusion" (Lawlor, 2002, par.3). The disorder of having negative effects after an abortion is called Post Abortion Syndrome or PAS. In order to tell if a woman has PAS she has to be completely honest with herself and admit the feelings that she has. The symptoms that most women have are strong feelings of guilt and confusion. Some cases are much more extreme, for example, there was a seventeen year old who developed lethargy, malaise, and vomiting. Doctors where unable to reach a conclusion about her condition until the anniversary of her abortion when she experienced overt psychosis. Mental examinations also revealed signs of hallucinations, as well as psychotic thought processes. Research has shown that in most cases women will go on and say they are fine about the whole thing, and many years later be engulfed in feelings of guilt, confusion, and exploitation (Lawlor, 2002, par.4). I think that the reason for this is because at the time they did not need a child, or they didn't feel like they could support it like they wanted to, then later on down the road when they start thinking about having children the thought that they killed one starts to effect them. The sad thing about it is that there is no real treatment or cure, although there are things that can help. One type of treatment that has proven to be helpful is post abortion counseling, or spiritual and psychological programs. An example of this is a catholic program called 'project Rachel', which is designed to help women come with their terms and especially themselves. Support groups are helpful in the fact that they help women to open up and tell stories with other women who have gone through the same experiences. This forces them to deal with their feelings and move on with their lives (Lawlor, 2002, par.7).

On the other hand, people who are pro-choice believe negative effects of abortion are minimal, and in most cases offer a relief from the stress of having an unwanted child. Doctors do admit that there are people who have psychological effects after an abortion, but happen only in certain cases. For example, women who have plenty of support from their parents and their partner tend to be happy with the decision, but women who have lots of conflicts about it tend to be affected in a negative way. Also, the more difficult it is to decide weather or not you want to abort it, the more likely it will result with negative effects (Slife, 1998, p.45-46). This makes a lot of since to me because if you are not for sure what you want to do, then later it is a lot more likely for you to look back and think you made the wrong decision. If someone knows for sure they want to abort it, and they never think twice about it, then it is less likely they will change their mind. Also, if you have people around you that don't agree with you aborting your child then it is going to make you think that you might be doing they wrong thing. People who are pro-choice believe that it will take away a lot of stress. They believe that if you need counseling or support it is needed before the abortion and not afterwards.

I think that most people who have an abortion will have psychological effects. Most likely you are always going to have someone telling you that an abortion is not right, or that it is killing a baby and you will look back and feel guilty about it. Most people who have an abortion are being selfish and are just thinking about themselves at that certain time in their life. They don't want the responsibilities of raising a child, or the pressure of telling their parents, or even the reputation they might get. Most of the reasons for having an abortion are not good enough reasons to kill a child, and I think when time passes everyone will have regrets about what they did. There may be a few



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