The Long-Term Effects of Abortion

Statistics show that by the age of forty-three, nearly forty percent of women have undergone an abortion, making the odds of having a close relative or friend who has undergone an abortion highly likely. Whether in an obvious manner or in a more roundabout way, abortion affects a huge percentage of the population, which is why the abortion debate is so heated. Abortion is much more than a political debate, however-it is a highly emotional decision, and, at times, a religious one as well. Even those women who are fully behind a woman's right to choose will likely have a myriad of conflicting feelings when the issue relates directly to them or a loved one.

Immediate Side Effects

The surgical method vacuum aspiration is the most performed form of abortion; the cervix is stretched and a tube is inserted into the uterus, then a syringe is attached to the tube and the fetus is suctioned into a collection container. Extreme bleeding, stomach swelling, cervical tears, and pelvic infection are a few of the possible complications following an abortion. Short-term, acute medical complications occur in less than two percent of women who have had an abortion, however long-term side effects can happen and may endure for a lifetime.

Breast Cancer, Infertility, Substance Abuse

Women who have undergone an abortion are as much as twice as likely to abuse drugs than women who have given birth or have never been pregnant. Perhaps this tendency toward substance abuse following an abortion is an attempt to forget, to feel more like "yourself" or simply to be able to adequately function. The exception to this dismal statistic is among women who continue to live with the father of their aborted child. Studies have also shown an increased risk of breast cancer among women who have had abortions, possibly due to the sudden physiological change in the body when the termination causes a significant drop in hormones, which in turn causes the rapid growth in the number of breast tissue cells. The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates that women who have had an induced abortion increase their risk of getting breast cancer before the age of fifty by nearly 49%. For women who have undergone an abortion due to bad timing, however do want children in the future, abortion brings a risk of secondary infertility that could stop a woman from conceiving. A surgical abortion can occasionally cause uterine scarring or can cause infection to the fallopian tubes which can making future pregnancies difficult, or even impossible.

Emotional Effects

Many women undergo post-abortion syndrome, which is akin to PTSD, and affects different women in different ways. Some women will experience sleeping difficulties, panic disorders, eating disorders, depression, or an increase in risky behaviors, while in its more severe form, women may experience suicidal thoughts. Many women feel the need to keep their abortion a secret from those closest to them, which can have a dramatic impact on their personal relationships. Even in couples who made the decision to have an abortion mutually, there may later be relationship problems stemming from the abortion which they are incapable of resolving.

Recently there have been numerous studies regarding the physical and emotional effects that abortion can have on women in the long term. Most of those studies have reached the same conclusions, namely that a minimum of thirty percent of women who have undergone an abortion will suffer some level of depression as a direct result. Many of these women will have thoughts and flashbacks triggered by everyday things such as seeing children playing or hearing about a friend having an abortion. Regardless of the legal, political, religious and moral questions involved, every woman should think very carefully about the potential long-term effects of an abortion before she makes the decision, and women who have undergone an abortion, no matter how far in the past, should talk to a professional or trusted friend about the subsequent emotional impact.

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