Abortion & Post Abortion Challenges
When terminating a pregnancy, the abortion procedure itself isn’t the only element that can impact a person’s mental health. The decision to have an abortion is complex, and can involve societal and political stigma, issues around safe access to medical care, and potential conflicts with partners and loved ones. However, there is support for people who have had or are considering having an abortion, to help process through the experience in a supported way.
What are abortion & post abortion challenges?
Abortion and post abortion challenges describe the emotions that come with the experience of having an abortion. While some people will feel relieved after they have an abortion, others may be left with negative or confusing emotions. Leading up to this decision, there can be emotions such as shame, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, low self-esteem, and more. Because of the time-sensitive nature, many people may feel pressured to make a decision quickly, which only adds to the stress. Some people have abortions when they are facing health risks to themselves or the fetus, which can also bring a unique form of grief. Others may find themselves struggling to reconcile the decision with religious or personal beliefs.
Having an abortion also inherently takes a toll on the physical body, resulting in temporary pain or discomfort. Abortions can take financial and time resources, which can create additional stress. The logistical processes of scheduling an abortion alone are enough to feel overwhelmed, especially in states with restrictive requirements.
However, many of these challenges can be surpassed when there is an ample opportunity to process through the experience.
Types of abortion & post abortion challenges
Each person who gets an abortion will react differently to the experience. Some people will feel positive emotions resulting from getting an abortion. This can include a newfound sense of independence or ability to make their own decisions and advocate for themself.
Other people may find themselves having difficulty with moving past the experience. Despite making the best decision for themselves, after getting an abortion, some people may feel intense guilty, worry, or disorientation. The experience may change how a person views themself, their identity, or their life narrative. This can be hard to process alone.
When to get help with abortion & post abortion challenges
It’s normal to experience a range of emotions when deciding to have an abortion and experiencing the procedure. Whether the feelings are positive or negative, it’s likely that there will be a change in mood for at least a few days before and after the procedure.
However, if these difficult emotions persist for several weeks after the abortion and begin to get in the way of daily life, it’s important to get professional help.
Therapy for abortion & post abortion challenges
Therapists who specialize in working with people who have gotten abortions are passionate about validating their client’s feelings, helping them reintegrate back into daily routines, and address any lingering self-judgements. Therapy modalities used in this type of therapy may include:
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Narrative therapy and meaning-making therapy
- Mindfulness and relaxation practices
- Grief and loss work
- Feminist therapy
Therapists will empower clients to move ahead in their lives and to take back control over their emotions. This happens in a non-judgemental setting that brings healing and peace to the client.