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"Society gives those who go through an... abortion no liberty to acknowledge grief"

-Catherine Sanders, Ph.D.

Knowing you are not alone, that what you are experiencing can be common and that others understand, can be the first steps towards coming to terms with life after abortion, and working towards finding peace again.

Aftermath of Abortion

Women and girls contact us from within hours of taking the first tablet up to decades later. They come from a range of situations and backgrounds. Some were pregnant for a few weeks, others were in their second trimester or, less commonly, the third where there was a foetal diagnosis.  Each comes with her unique story but often with strikingly similar descriptions of how they have been affected.


What do they describe?

Grief, regret, & guilt are the most common, almost ubiquitous difficulties.

What is disenfranchised grief?

"Disenfranchised grief can be defined as the grief  experienced by those who incur a loss this in not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned or socially supported.  Isolated in bereavement, it can be much more difficult to mourn and reactions are often complicated."  Kenneth J Doka PhD (1999) Disenfranchised Grief, Bereavement Care

This is a common theme with those involved feeling they have no right to grieve, and those around them are baffled by, critical or dismissive of, their grief.

What else do women and girls describe?

The immediate aftermath can be very confusing as the woman or girl may suddenly view the situation very differently- perhaps they felt as if they were on 'autopilot' leading up to the procedure, now the reality is sinking in, and the reality may be very different to what they were led to expect.

In the first month, many report symptoms associated with an Acute Stress ReactionMany describe how depression, anxiety, panic, self-loathing, suicidal thoughts and even Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) symptoms have emerged or worsened.  Some can turn to self-harm, disordered eating, substance abuse, and suicidal behaviours.  Relationships can be strained or broken.  Many just want to be pregnant again, straight away, even if their circumstances haven't changed. No-one told them beforehand that this might happen. Many struggle with ordinary physical or medical events which serve as reminders.  Many experience difficulties with intimacy - in the short or long term.

Many were unsure of their decision but felt rushed into making it, or were not fully informed before their decision.  The vast majority wished they had given themselves more time- whether that was another day or weeks. The majority of those who contact us experienced pressure, often from multiple sources, although they may not have recognised all of this at the time. These pressures have amounted to direct coercion for many, normally from someone close to them, or someone they had to rely on.

So many say they wish they "could just turn back the clock".

What about men?

Men contact us because they are grieving, they feel guilty for the role they played in and/or because they don't know how to help the woman.  Nothing could have prepared them for how difficult she has found it and how their relationship would be impacted.

What about others?

Family members and friends contact us worried about their daughter, sister, friend-how can they help her, what can we offer? Perhaps they were involved or perhaps they didn't even know about the pregnancy until it was gone.

The more we hear, the more we learn and the more we realise how complex the post-abortion picture can be.

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