Is the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome a Real One?

It is a controversial subject: the relationship between induced abortion and a woman’s mental health. It is called the Post Abortion Syndrome or the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome but each of the terms refers to the supposed stress and negative psychological impacts of taking the decision to end a pregnancy.

Inevitably the research into this subject has being influenced by the sharp dichotomy of views on the subjects of abortion on which people hold very divergent political views. On the one hand are the Pro-Life lobbies who urge women to consider the many negative impacts of abortion including long term psychological impacts.

Post Abortion Stress SyndromeOn the other hand are the pro choice advocates who concentrate on the fact that carrying an unwanted baby to term may likely have worse consequences for the woman than an abortion.

The fact is that no mainstream studies and publications actually recognize the existence of the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome as such.

Some of the studies on the subject, such as the oft quoted report of the American Psychological Association of 1990 which studied the physical and psychological impacts of abortion found that “severe negative reactions (after abortion) are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses.”

There are studies that have found a relationship to exist between women who showed depressive symptoms such as clinical depression, anxiety, some amount of sexual dysfunction and even in cases, suicidal behavior after a woman has undergone abortion. However these studies are generally not recognized as being of a very high quality and as not taking into account certain compounding factors.

It is thought that a number of the so called impacts of abortion can be explained by other factors such as the social circumstances and emotional health of a woman; unconnected with the fact of abortion.

It is in fact thought that conservative views on abortion and a lack of support for a woman when she undergoes abortion may the factors that possibly increase likelihood of having negative psychological reactions.

While some amount of sadness and guilt may well be experienced by a lot of women who choose to have abortions, and there is anecdotal evidence of severe psychological distress, the general consensus of the mental health community seems to be that there are no particular long term negative psychological impacts of abortion on a woman. As of now, the official view is that the Post Abortion Stress Syndrome is not something that is actually recognized as a syndrome as such.


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