Abortion often leaves traumatic imprint

by David Davis/Cleveland Daily Banner

The experience of having an abortion is one that women never forget. And it is one from which most women don’t completely heal emotionally, according to the New Hope Pregnancy Care Center. Some are devastated and about half suffer some symptoms of post-abortion syndrome.

New Hope Pregnancy Care Center Executive Director Tracie Shellhouse said most people are not aware post-abortion syndrome exists, but research confirms the disorder is a “really big issue for women.” Post-abortion syndrome is comparable to the post traumatic stress disorder that affects wartime military veterans or anyone else who has experienced a tragedy. “Most of the time when we think of post traumatic stress, we think of war veterans — those who have seen combat, but it really applies to anyone who has gone through something traumatic,” Shellhouse said.

Individual limitation and tolerance to intense emotional disturbance varies from person to person. Events that traumatize one might not bother another, but all are left with a psychological imprint. “What we are seeing with post-abortive women is they are experiencing post-traumatic stress,” she said. “What is traumatic to one person, another might be able to weather through and it not bother them.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national population in 2010 was 308.74 million with 50.8 percent or 156.84 million being women. While there are no accurate numbers on how many abortions are performed annually, the number is estimated between 1.5 million and 1.8 million. Focus on the Family and the Guttmacher Institute both estimate that 33 percent of American women have an abortion before the age of 45. Census figures show there were about 56.18 million women between the ages of 18 and 45 in the United States, so according to statistics, as many as 18.72 million women in that age group will have an abortion.

“About 19 percent of women who have an abortion can be clinically diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder,” Shellhouse said. “Half of them (post-abortive women) have some symptoms, but maybe not all of them. Twenty to 40 percent of the overall big number shows moderate to high stress levels and avoidance behavior relative to the abortion. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to be reminded of it and that is manifested in a number of ways.”

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