Most of the common complications of abortion that are discussed are short-term and are a direct result of the surgical abortion procedure, abortion pill or morning after pill. The number and the severity of these problems depend on the experience of the abortionist.
However, there are complications that occur later and these long-term side effects relate primarily to fertility and reproduction. Women who have had an abortion have more than double the chance of sterility, and the chance of sterility increases with each additional abortion.1 One study reported a 45% increase in pregnancy failure after one abortion.2 This means that later in life, women who have had an abortion can face infertility problems.
There is also strong evidence that abortion increases the risk of getting breast cancer. A study of 1,800 women found that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer before age 45 by 50%, and an abortion of a first pregnancy for women under 18 after the 8th week increased the risk by 800% (8 times the national average). Women who in addition had a family history of breast cancer had an even higher rate, with 100% of the women in this category in this study getting breast cancer later.3
As with any medical procedure, it is important that women know what they are facing so they can make an informed decision. Clinical research provides a growing body of scientific evidence that having an abortion can have long-term psychological effects on some women. “Women who report negative after-effects from abortion know exactly what their problem is,” observed psychologist Wanda Franz, Ph.D. “When they are reminded of the abortion,” Franz testified, “the women re-experienced it with terrible psychological pain … They feel worthless and victimized.4
Researchers have now discovered a pattern of symptoms among post-abortive women that is called Post Abortion Syndrome. This syndrome is considered to be a type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Typically there is a time of “denial,” which may last as long as five or ten years, before the emotional problems surface. Often a major life event seems to trigger the onset of symptoms, which can include debilitating depression, grief, guilt, anxiety, low self-esteem, a sense of failure, hopelessness, or emotional deadness. They may have flashbacks, nightmares, sleep disorders, communication difficulties, relationship problems, sexual dysfunction, repeated abortions, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicidal tendencies. These symptoms become worse with each additional abortion.
Many times women suffer in silence. Fear, guilt and shame often keep women from getting the help they need. If you or someone you know might be suffering from Post Abortion Syndrome, you are not alone. Please call Options for Pregnancy. We are here to help.
1. Anastasia Tzonou, et al, “Induced abortions, miscarriages, and tobacco smoking as risk factors for secondary infertility,” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 47 (1993), p. 36.
2. C Madore, et. al., “A Study on the Effects of Induced Abortion on Subsequent Pregnancy Outcome,” American Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1981, 139:516-521
3. Janet Daling, et al, “Risk of Breast Cancer Among Young Women: Relationship to Induced Abortion,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 86, No. 21 (November 2, 1994), pp. 1584-1592.
4. March 1989 congressional hearing on the impact of abortion