Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
“Most women come in not even being able to say the word abortion… by the end you see a 360-turn around for them, they can tell their story and understand that they are forgiven.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, about one in four American women will have an abortion by age 45.  Millions of women have been and will be impacted by abortion. However, in a culture that openly celebrates abortion, the painful reality of abortion for thousands of women is purposefully ignored.
Yes, some women may leave an abortion unbothered with no regret. But many won’t. Thousands of women will leave an abortion carrying grief and loss. Many will experience depression, anxiety, and guilt.
In a world that wants to deny any connection between abortion and grief, where do these women go for help?
What do women overcome post-abortion?
While the media and abortion providers paint glorified pictures of abortion, real-life abortion is a messy business. Often, women are not counseled about the negative effects of abortion, are pressured into an abortion, or abort without any knowledge of fetal development. After an abortion, women are left to handle the unexpected trauma with little to no outside help. According to many major institutions and popular public figures, abortion is supposed to erase women’s problems, but it doesn’t.
“There is emotional trauma that you take on from going through that experience,” explains Lindsey Tafengatoto, the Post Abortive Support Group Leader for Pro-Life Utah. “This is not a fabulous ‘my body, my choice’ decision to make. It is a truly devastating thing for a mother to go through.”
Many medical workers refer to the mental repercussions of abortion as “PASS,” or post-abortion stress syndrome, identifying it as a subset of PTSD.  Symptoms include depression, suicidal thoughts, reliving the abortion, inability to bond with other children, eating disorders, and drug abuse. 
In working with post-abortive women, Lindsey witnesses their challenges first-hand. “The most prominent emotion is shame… in that shame they usually shove everything down. You have to go through a lot of layers to pull them back to the light, but it is worth it for every woman.”
Healing is possible!
Post-abortion trauma is real, and so is post-abortion healing. And it is worth it. Pro-Life Utah offers an eight-week course, based on medical research and biblical stories, for anyone seeking to heal after an abortion. This group affords women an opportunity to go through the grieving process and talk about their experiences – an opportunity not often granted in communities or social circles, but necessary for healing.
Instead of fighting their battle alone, women are able to cope with their struggles by uniting with others who have been where they are.
Instead of being told that they should celebrate their abortion, women are given the space to process their individual and normal reactions to their traumatic experience.
Lindsey sees miracles in this recovery group. “Giving them the freedom and platform to say what happened to them is so important for these women. Most women come in not even being able to say the word ‘abortion.’ … By the end you see a 360-turn around for them. They can say the word ‘abortion.’ They can tell their story and understand that they are forgiven.”
Creating a Culture of Healing
Unfortunately, many women do not reach out for help until years after their abortion. In Pro-Life Utah’s group, most women do not come until eight to fifteen years after their abortion. Imagine if we could reach these women sooner. Years of pain could be erased, and years of happiness could be created.
If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome post-abortion trauma, there is help and hope!
Life is precious. We want each woman to live free of abortion-related trauma. We want each woman to understand her worth. As social and religious communities, we must normalize conversation about post-abortive healing and as individuals reach out in love and compassion to post abortive women. As we do, we can help women find joy and healing.
If you or someone you know is facing trauma or grief after an abortion, please visit the website linked below. Pro-Life Utah can help you find joy and healing. In addition, please consider making a donation so that, together, we can serve women and their children and continue in our work towards a pro-life future.
Sources (if needed):