Abortion—Not a Trouble-Free Solution

BILL had grown up to believe that abortion was a serious sin, tantamount to murder. But his firm, decades-long stand softened in 1975 when this issue became personal. His girlfriend, Victoria, became pregnant, and Bill could not face the commitment of marriage and parenthood. “I quickly opted for the convenient solution,” admitted Bill, “and told Victoria that she had to have an abortion.”

What Bill called a convenient solution to an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is not uncommon. A 2007 global study reported that in 2003 there were an estimated 42 million induced abortions worldwide. Women who have abortions come from every race and nationality, from a variety of religious backgrounds, and from every level of income, education, and age between puberty and menopause. If you were facing an unwanted pregnancy, how would you react? Why do so many choose abortion?

‘All I Could See Was One Option’

“I had just gone through a scary pregnancy and a hard birth, and there was a mountain of monetary and family stress,” explained a 35-year-old woman. “Then six weeks after the birth, I was pregnant again. We decided for abortion. In my heart I felt it was wrong, but all I could see was this one option.”

Women seek abortions for a variety of reasons, ranging from financial problems to a failed, perhaps abusive, relationship that results in their not wanting any further ties with the man. Or the pregnancy may simply not fit into the plans of the woman or the couple.

At times, abortion is chosen to protect a reputation. Such was true of the case reported on by Dr. Susan Wicklund in her book This Common Secret—My Journey as an Abortion Doctor. A patient of hers who was seeking an abortion confessed: “My parents are very religious. . . . If I have a baby out of wedlock, it would be a mark on them. It would say to all their friends that their daughter has sinned.”

Dr. Wicklund then asked: “Okay, so you’ve sinned in their eyes, but how do they feel about abortion?” The girl confided: “Oh, abortion. That’s totally unforgivable. But it’s the lesser evil because it would be a secret. If I have an abortion, [my parents’] friends in church will never know.”

Regardless of the situation, usually the decision to terminate a pregnancy deliberately is not an easy one. It is often intensely painful. But is abortion a trouble-free solution?

Consider the Consequences

A 2004 research study of 331 Russian and 217 American women who had an induced abortion revealed that about half of both groups felt bad after the abortion. Nearly 50 percent of the Russians and almost 80 percent of the Americans felt “guilt” over the procedure. More than 60 percent of the American women were ‘unable to forgive themselves.’ Since guilt is such a pervasive problem—even among those who do not consider themselves religious—why do so many young women still have abortions?

They often come under intense pressure to have an abortion. Parents, a mate, or well-meaning friends may encourage abortion as a lesser of two evils. This can lead to a hasty, ill-informed decision. “However, after the stressfulness of the decision and the procedure have ended,” explained Dr. Priscilla Coleman, an expert on the mental-health risks of abortion, “women’s cognitive abilities return to normal, often ushering in feelings of pronounced guilt, sadness, and regret.”

This regret often centers on the question: Did the abortion terminate a life that already existed? A report by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion concluded that many pregnant women considering an abortion “were misled into thinking that nothing but ‘tissue’ was being removed, and relate that they would not have had an abortion if they were told the truth.”

After an evaluation of the “stunning and heart-wrenching testimony” of 1,940 women who had abortions, the study concluded: “Many of these women are angered by grief at the loss of a child they were told never existed.” It also stated that “the psychological harm of knowing she killed her child is often devastating.”

But what is the truth? Does an abortion merely remove some tissue from a pregnant woman’s body? Is an unborn child actually a living person while in the womb?

[Box/Pictures on page 4]

GIVING BIRTH VERSUS HAVING AN ABORTION

  A 2006 study reviewed the life history of scores of women who became pregnant as teenagers. Half of them gave birth, and the other half had abortions. The study concluded that “childbirth was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving psychological counseling services, less frequent sleep problems, and a lower probability of smoking marijuana when compared to abortion.”—Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

  Another report provided “the results of the four largest record based studies in the world.” What did these studies reveal? “Women with a known history of abortion experience higher rates of mental health problems of various forms when compared to women without a known abortion history.”—Report of the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion—2005.