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What are the Effects of Abortion?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The effects of abortion could be either physical or emotional and they will range with each woman who experienced this procedure. It may be difficult to tell beforehand who is at greater or lesser risk for such effects, and the fact that abortion is legal in most places certainly reduces risk of physical complication. That being said, there can be complications to this procedure of a physical and emotional nature, and it is wise to understand any possible risk factors.

Right after an abortion, women may feel some soreness and cramping. This, and possibly bleeding from the procedure, which is generally no heavier than menstrual bleeding, may last for several weeks. Some women also experience stomach upset that can take the form of vomiting or simply nausea. These tend to be normal after effects of abortion, but if women feel concerned they should contact their doctor or the clinic where the procedure was performed.

Sometimes complications do arise after an abortion, though risk of this is low. Women should watch in the first few weeks for signs or very heavy bleeding, fever, severe pain in the pelvis or severe stomach pain. These signs might suggest dangerous infection or hemorrhage and need immediate medical care. In extremely rare instances, death does occur during or after an abortion, but risk of this is about on par with risk of death during childbirth.

There are also emotional effects of abortion, which do exist and need to be noted and looked for. Of these, the most significant is the development of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a risk any time a pregnancy ends, at any stage and no matter how. The body can respond by becoming deeply depressed as pregnancy hormones rapidly fall.

What this would suggest for most women seeking an abortion is that they have a strong support system; this could be the help of friends, group support, work with a counselor, or a supportive family. Isolation after an abortion tends to increase risk for serious depression, and the circumstances under which a woman gets an abortion may also make depression more or less likely. Those who feel conflicted about the decision or must keep it secretive may suffer more.

Other emotional effects of abortion exist. Some people feel guilt, while others feel relief. Without full-blown post-partum depression, some women may still feel tearful, moody, or simply endure a difficult emotional ride during the first few weeks to several months after abortion. Again, not all women have this experience, but some do.

Understanding the effects of abortion allows women to make informed choices. There are strong arguments for and against this procedure, and people on both sides of this issue may frequently hold up one or two of the effects as a reason for or against having an abortion. What is most important is that effects be neither aggrandized nor minimized. It is important for anyone who faces this decision to understand effects clear of taint of a political position.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon947635 — On Apr 26, 2014

A woman had an abortion and bled heavily for six days and on the seventh day, she took medicine to stop her bleeding. Now she is saying that her belly is getting hard. Is this normal, or what should she do? Please answer.

By anon941901 — On Mar 24, 2014

An effect for me, I would say, would be utter disgust with myself, hatred, and the kind of regret that has you literally pulling your hair out at 2 a.m. wishing it wasn't real. And that's a year and a half after the sickest decision I've ever made. It's not even guilt; it's just the painful wanting of the person you created and killed for no reason at all.

I personally found that it's the knowing you'll never hold your sweet child or get little bedtime kisses that wakes me up in cold sweats in the middle of the night weekly. But that was just the effect on me I can't speak for anyone else.

By anon931169 — On Feb 07, 2014

Women who abort children are taking the easy way out of a difficult situation for themselves. Living with the guilt and shame is normal because you failed to live up to your human potential by taking the "easier road". Guilt and remorse should be strong in order to keep you from making the same mistake twice. At the heart of the decision to abort are fear and cowardice; let us not sugarcoat it. Only have children when you are ready to stand up to the immense responsibility.

By anon926074 — On Jan 16, 2014

There are so many things to think about when you make abortion legal. Is there an age where it would be unsafe to have one either too old or too young? When is a fetus a baby? Can it affect your ability to have future children? What if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. The article says that some places have outlawed abortions at 6 weeks but a mother doesn't even know she is pregnant then. Some say they can't feel pain until the 28th week. Then there is the huge debate of is it the woman's health or the fetus/babies health that is more important. All of these things are going to take a long time to sort through and in the end it probably will never be perfect. Unfortunately now I think the biggest issue is the majority of people aren't looking at every possible angle - they just stick to the one they believe in. The right for a woman to choose or the right for a child to live and neither of those are the right way to view the issue because it isn't close to being that simple. I know my heart breaks at even the smallest chance that that little peanut inside a woman feels pain during an abortion. Unfortunately all that gets lost under the religious groups despicable and ignorant fashion of presenting their argument. On the flip side is the ignorant girl who had six abortions before the age of 16 because "condoms feel gross". I definitely don't want to pay higher taxes for her "right to choose." But then again if a woman/girl was raped I would want her to be able to and I would pay taxes or support her right to health care to cover it, BUT what if she wanted it after X number of weeks and the baby was too far developed or what if a woman claimed she was raped after 8 weeks had an abortion covered under whatever health coverage and then we found out she lied so she could have it for free? This isn't a one side is right and one side is wrong issue. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong and they need to put aside their stupid agenda's and horrible tactics and just try to figure out what is the absolute best form of action is.

By anon926041 — On Jan 16, 2014


I would like to react to post 24.

The same happened to me, I was very young and my boyfriend was violent and drug-addicted. I felt it was my right to want a future and develop myself. So i had an abortion.

I have for a long time felt so wrong and worthless about myself, my decision and only recently, after maybe 25 years, started to work to digest my experience of the abortion.

The shame has finally left me, I feel my self worth returning.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

By anon356041 — On Nov 21, 2013

Women are entitled to choose and that's the way it should be. I'm not condoning abortion but I think that when you start pushing your opinion on someone else, that's when society truly has deteriorated. If you don't support choice, you don't support democracy.

By anon355771 — On Nov 19, 2013

If you don't like abortion; don't have one.

Ending abortion takes away the right of many women. Maybe not you, but other more unfortunate women. That's nothing to be proud of. That's more shame than anything in the world. Don't make decisions for other women. That takes away basic human rights, and equates more on a level of slavery. Plus, it's not your place to decide.

Life does not begin at fertilization. Life begins at the point when the fetus is able to sustain itself on its own, without the woman's body to provide for it. If you take away the host body, the fetus would stop growing and subsequently not be alive.

Also, getting pregnant can be a mistake; it is not a gift from God, it's science. God would never force a woman to be punished with having a child she does not want or is unready for. God loves.

It is not the will of God. Do not force your religious views on other people.

By jessiwan — On Oct 28, 2013

Wow, didn't know there were so many women on this board.

Anyway, I just want to say that if the act of having a child does not fit with your life goals at the moment, there are many other, more humane ways of preventing pregnancy, such as the use of a condom. The woman can also go on some sort of injection that prevents ovulation. Anyway, my point is, abortion equates murder and it should only be committed under some very special circumstances.

By anon351655 — On Oct 15, 2013

I was 16 years old when I had my abortion at eight weeks pregnant in October 2009. As soon as it was over, I felt so empty and heartbroken.

To this day I miss my baby. I'm 20 now but there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about what could of been. The father of that child still misses that child and we talk all the time still and he wishes we had that baby. It was the worst choice I have ever made and it hurt so many in the process.

-- A women who still loves her angel baby

By anon351134 — On Oct 11, 2013

I pray for God's forgiveness. I had three abortions and I was with the wrong person. Now I'm happily married, but no pregnancy yet. I pray that God will bless me with a child, even if it's only one. I regret going for an abortion.

By lostgirl — On Aug 25, 2013

I've had three abortions over about 10 years. I was a binge alcoholic and didn't really care about myself, I had a lot of unprotected sex with boyfriends who didn't respect me and I didn't respect myself. I was very self destructive to the point where fighting and causing trouble were the norm.

Now I don't drink and have changed myself dramatically. I am a giver rather than a taker now and realize the errors of my old ways of behaving. I am a much happier person, and I want to be a good person, which I didn't before. My life is now on a positive track, I have a man who loves and respects me and is responsible. I have a home and a life, but I don't feel now I have any right to even say that I want children because my guilt is so great, even though now I think I would make a good mum.

I think when I was younger I probably would have ruined any child I brought into the world. I think I would have kept the abusive cycle I was in and spread the misery further. I don't think I was capable of raising a child. I regret having the abortions because maybe there was a chance I could have done something else or raised them okay, but right at the moment when I had to make the decision, I felt too overwhelmed in the situation and too weak as a person.

I suffered from depression from a young age. My first abortion was at the age of 17, my second at age 23 and my third at 26. With the cycle I was in, I doubt would have stopped if I’d had the children. For me at the time, there wasn't a better option other than abortion. I didn't have any options. I didn't tell my mum because I couldn't bring myself to tell her how I had failed in life by getting pregnant when it wasn't the right time with the right person and then after the first abortion, and the second and third in similar situations were worse and more failure. I couldn't fail my mother because I was the strong one and the one who got us through things. I had to deal with it myself. The boyfriends I was with were not interested, and one of them just stopped speaking to me when I wanted to discuss "options.”

When you are on your own, regardless of whatever charities are out there, regardless of what faith you are, psychologically it’s all your responsibility. The male can literally just walk off if he wants, disown it, ignoring his own involvement and be totally disconnected from it like nothing has occurred, and when your own life -- like mine -- was about avoiding responsibility and destroying yourself, adoption can't be an option because going full term would be all too real and other people would know.

This isn't about pride; it's about being the strong one and not being seen as fallible and weak so that the people who rely on you still rely on you, when you are the only strong one (even when you're not really). You can't fail, you have no option of failure, so it ends up that abortion is the only option, or at least it was for me, no matter how bad I felt about it.

The only thing I can say to others who maybe are starting life off in a similar way that mine started is that if you get pregnant, think carefully if you can change your life for something/someone that will be all yours and nobody else’s. If not, then do what you must, but learn from it, find your self respect, find out the reasons why you let it happen to yourself, think about your own insecurities, your upbringing, parental relationships, etc. I mean really analyze the heck out of it and then change your life so it doesn't happen again. Don't wait for anymore wake up calls. Don't do what I did and keep repeating the same mistakes until you hit rock bottom. All it does is waste life.

By anon326848 — On Mar 24, 2013

If anyone out there is thinking of having an abortion, just think that your mother was in the same position that you are, or maybe not exactly, but still your mom could have aborted you and she didn't. Just think of all the great things you've enjoyed in your life, all the love and all the great things you've done, but it is because your mother chose to have you; she didn't abort you. So a baby, even if it is still an embryo, it is still your baby -- a gift from God.

By anon326332 — On Mar 21, 2013

I am 17 years old and recently had an abortion. The father and I have been on and off for five years now, and I lost my virginity to him. I love him with all my heart, and I wish that he could straighten up and be somebody. He's been to jail, and does a lot of illegal drugs. When he does them, he really abuses them. I never knew I could actually get pregnant but hey, it's possible apparently.

He was living with me during September and October of 2012, then I found out he cheated on me and used my car to meet his ex while I was in school, so I kicked him out and said we're over. I saw him in late January for the first time since October, which was also the date I conceived. Crazy, right? I found out I was pregnant in March and I was about six weeks along. I showed him the tests and told him. I started crying, (by this point we were together about every day, just not dating). Then he told me I was worthless, he didn't love me, he doesn't want this, and especially not with me. He told me he would flat out pay for the abortion just to make it go away. I tried calming him down, trying to explain that we have options and everything would be O.K.

He went from “I don't want this” to “If someone else ever raises my kid (another guy) then I'll seriously kill you.” He's crazy. We fought for a few days a little bit and then I told him about the pill and told him I don't have time to waste that I need to go ahead and get it if that was our decision. He told me he didn't give a crap and to do what I want, that he didn't care and it's my choice, blah, blah, blah. Yes, it is my choice. That's great and all but I wish I could've gotten more out of him. He knew that I had plans to start college in the fall, and work on my associates degree, then get my bachelors and study criminal justice. These were plans that would be hard to work around with a baby, especially when he wouldn't be there for me at all?

He promised half of the money, but I still didn't get it and I won't. He makes really good money daily, and always has a lot of it. He went out and got three tattoos after I told him I was pregnant, and he got a check for $200 from his grandmother and spent it all on cocaine when the check was supposed to be for his share?

I believe in women's rights. Sometimes you've got to sacrifice and look out for yourself. Yeah, that sounds selfish and all, but I want a future and I want to make something out of myself. And I especially don't want to be tied down to someone like that for the rest of my life.

By anon320652 — On Feb 18, 2013

I had an abortion too at the age of 20, and I really regret what I did. I know it's a big sin. I just did it because of my fear. Now, I am married for almost seven months and I'm still not pregnant. I will miss my lost baby forever. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't have the same pain again. Now I am suffering the guilt inside me. Please give me some advice on how to recover from my situation.

By anon319441 — On Feb 13, 2013

I had an abortion in April 2007 when I was 14 weeks pregnant. Even now I take medication for depression. I still miss the baby I lost forever. I am in so much pain and hurt.

By anon300821 — On Oct 31, 2012

Take religion out of your politics, and perhaps your arguments may stand a chance. Biased opinions sound very uneducated, especially if every other word being typed is God. If God ran the legal system in the world, we would have mass murderers running free. But that must be the work of devil?

By anon294251 — On Sep 30, 2012

When I found out that I was pregnant, I was just 16 years old and I was afraid. I didn't want my baby. I wanted a baby at some point, but not at my age. Also, I was afraid of my parents. I didn't know what to do but a friend didn't let me abort, so now I have my baby and I enjoy life with her. She gives joy and happiness to my life. I love my baby. She is a blessing and treasure of God. Don't abort and give the opportunity to the little angel to live.

By anon258406 — On Apr 01, 2012

Thanks for the post. I can relate and it makes me cry so much.

By anon179926 — On May 25, 2011

I had an abortion when I was 19. It was a very bad experience. I strongly discourage it. It is ungodly and it leaves a lot of emotional damage. So if you are out there, you also did it and you still carry the guilt and shame, I want to tell you that if we repent and confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all the unrighteousness.

You did it with the influence of the devil, but you can fix it with the help of Jesus Christ. In fact, He can fix it for you. He forgave me, I received His forgiveness and I am now living a life free of guilt and shame. He took all that upon Him and nailed it to the cross.

Accept Jesus; He is a Healer. He can heal your damaged emotions, and continue to love you unconditionally. If you are pregnant and considering it, no, no, no. Stop right there, and give that child a chance to live. There is always a way out, even if you see darkness all around.

If you keep your baby, you will thank yourself in the future. Allow God to help you raise your child. Find someone to talk to, preferably a christian counselor; they won't judge you.

No matter what sin you've committed to conceive the child, the child is still a blessing, created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Love you, but most importantly, God loves unconditionally.

By anon165485 — On Apr 05, 2011

how can we avoid abortion?

By anon165383 — On Apr 04, 2011

Abortion is not the appropriate way to deal with any pregnancy, whether it be intentional or non-intentional. This procedure should not be legal in any country. Children should be given the opportunity to live their lives. The Lord said thou shall not kill, and having an abortion is like a legal life taking process.

By anon163841 — On Mar 29, 2011

I think that abortion should not be legal. Why? Well because if it was easy to make the baby, now they have the responsibility to take care of it. Everybody at least should have the opportunity to live!

By anon161477 — On Mar 20, 2011

Please is there anything called achamma syndrome after abortion?

By anon157623 — On Mar 03, 2011

I think it is not good for any woman to go through that process.

By anon129363 — On Nov 23, 2010

life is worth protecting so when a child is in a woman's womb it is good that she protects it not destroying it because that baby may be the one to protect her some other day.

By comfyshoes — On Oct 17, 2010

Bhutan- In my personal opinion, the procedure of partial birth abortion should be banned. This form of pregnancy abortion should be viewed by the pregnant women before they go through the procedure so that they can understand what they are about to do.

I think all women contemplating an abortion should actually view an abortion procedure as well as understand what the negative psychological and physical effects they can have post abortion.

I feel that women should be counseled before the procedure and have at least three days to consider the abortion facts, and health effects of abortion, as well as the implications of the procedure.

By Bhutan — On Oct 17, 2010

Sunny27-I could not agree with you more. The side effects of abortion include the inability to hold a pregnancy in the future.

Most women that have had multiple abortions are unable to hold a pregnancy full term. What I think is really horrible are the abortion procedure for a partial birth abortion. The surgical abortion methods for terminating this pregnancy is downright cruel because most of these fetuses are formed enough

I think that the growing desensitization of our society toward children and people’s selfishness actually having a diminishing effect of our society.

By Sunny27 — On Oct 17, 2010

Moldova-I believe that the life inside a woman should be preserved. If the woman does not feel that she can adequately care for the child there are so many couples that are childless because they can not conceive a child who would be happy to adopt the child.

The long term effects of abortion in our society are that it devalues life and minimizes the life of a potential child. This allows callous feelings to continue in our society that is all about immediate gratification.

The inconvenient pregnancy is terminated because it does not fit with one's life goals. However, a pregnancy and even the birth of a child can really teach you so much about life that many people say that their children are the best things that have ever happened to them.

By Moldova — On Oct 17, 2010

Anon67400- I totally agree with you. The negative effects of abortion often are psychological. Women are usually psychologically scared often for the rest of their lives because of the guilt.

I know that there is some debate as to when life begins, but anyone that has had a child can vouch for what a miracle pregnancy is. I also agree with you that life really begins at conception and you can even begin to hear a heartbeat at six weeks gestation.

By anon67400 — On Feb 24, 2010

The effects of abortion are that a child dies in the process. There are web sites that display what the abortion looks like and reveal that a living person, the child, dies as a result of an abortion.

As difficult as unwanted pregnancies are, there are always better options then the tragedy of abortion. Many women who have abortions have guilt that lives with them the rest of their lives.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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