How Does Abortion Affect Mental Health?

Do you feel overwhelmed with your unplanned pregnancy? If you feel scared, anxious, unsure, or numb, your feelings are valid.

As you think about your options, it’s important to consider how an abortion could affect your mental health now and in the future. Keep reading to learn more.

How Does Abortion Affect Mental Health?

Everyone experiences abortion differently. Research shows that women who undergo surgical abortion procedures and late-term abortions can have complications, including a higher risk of mental health problems. [1] Abortions later in pregnancy may increase the risk of symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. [2] Sometimes, abortion makes existing mental health problems worse, but even in women with no prior issues, abortion is associated with an increased risk of developing mental health problems, including: [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

If you’re having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 immediately.

Is the Abortion Pill Better for My Mental Health?

Scientists don’t have all the answers yet, but seeing embryonic or fetal parts come out of your body (depending on how far along you are) can be incredibly stressful. This may play a role in future emotional struggles. In fact, preliminary reports indicate that the abortion pill can be a traumatic experience that causes emotional distress and feelings of isolation. [9]

We do know from research that the abortion pill is associated with more physical risks than surgical abortion. [10] Any woman considering abortion should know what to expect and how her decision may affect her long-term health and well-being.

Will An Abortion Help My Depression?

Abortion may seem like the solution to your stressful situation. Some women report initial relief after the abortion and look forward to their lives returning to normal. [11] But other women report negative emotions that linger unresolved, or that emerge months or even years later resulting in a significant number of women who seek mental health services. [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [12]

Will an Unplanned Pregnancy Make My Depression Worse?

An unplanned pregnancy can cause a lot of emotional and physical stress. Research shows that women who choose abortion tend to have a higher rate of mental health problems compared to women who miscarry and to those who choose to carry their pregnancy to term. [13]

If you’re currently experiencing depression, call 866-406-9327.

Will I Feel Guilt After Abortion?

No one knows exactly how they will feel after their abortion. Although abortion may provide immediate relief [11] for an unplanned pregnancy, some women experience guilt and regret afterward. [14]

If you have already had an abortion and need help, please call 866-406-9327.

How Does Abortion Affect Relationships?

Abortion can sometimes affect intimate relationships including dating, marriage, friendships, family, and children. [15], [16] One study reports that abortion can lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety in future pregnancies. [11] Women who feel pressured into having an abortion or who experience intimate partner violence are more likely to choose abortion. [17], [18], [19] and report more stress, grief, and anxiety for years after their abortion.[20]

Get the Facts on Abortion at The Pregnancy Decision Line.

You aren’t alone! Whatever you’re feeling, The Pregnancy Decision Line is a safe place to talk about your options and get the confidential care you deserve.

Give us a call at 866-406-9327 for more information. All services are confidential and free of charge!

  1. Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Boden JM. Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2008;193(6):444-451.  
  2. Priscilla K. Coleman, Catherine T. Coyle, Vincent M. Rue, “Late-Term Elective Abortion and Susceptibility to Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms”, Journal of Pregnancy, vol. 2010, Article ID 130519, 10 pages, 2010.
  3. Mota, N. P., Burnett, M., & Sareen, J. (2010, April). Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders, and Suicidal Behaviour in a Nationally Representative Sample. American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  
  4. Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Ridder, E. M. (2005, September 22). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.  
  5. Coleman, P.K. Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995–2009. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2011;199(3):180-186. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077230
  6. Pedersen W. (2008). Abortion and depression: A population-based longitudinal study of young women. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36 (4):424-8.
  7. Mota, N. P., Burnett, M., & Sareen, J. (2010). Associations Between Abortion, Mental Disorders, and Suicidal Behavior in a Nationally Representative Sample. Can J Psychiatry, 55(4), 239-47.
  8. Reardon, D.C., & Ney, P. (2000). Abortion and subsequent substance abuse. American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 26, 61-75.
  9. Smith Dallabrida, E. (2022, October). Study Shows Long-Term Negative Impact of Medication Abortion. Support After Abortion.
  10. Niinimäki M, Pouta A, Bloigu A, Gissler M, Hemminki E, Suhonen S, Heikinheimo O. Immediate complications after medical compared with surgical termination of pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Oct;114(4):795-804. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181b5ccf9. PMID: 19888037. 
  11. Steinberg, J.R. Decision rightness and relief predominate over the years following an abortion. Soc Sci Med. 2020 Mar;248:112782. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.112782. Epub 2020 Jan 13. PMID: 31955964.
  12. Studnicki, J., Longbons, T., Fisher, J., Reardon, D. C., Skop, I., Cirucci, C. A., Harrison, D. J., Craver, C., Tsulukidze, M., & Ras, Z. (2023, June 15). A Cohort Study of Mental Health Services Utilization Following a First Pregnancy Abortion or Birth. International Journal of Women’s Health.  
  13. Broen, A.N., Moum, T., Bødtker, A.S., & Ekeberg, Ø. (2005). The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, five-year follow-up study. BMC Medicine, 3,18. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-3-18. Retrieved from:  
  14. Pourreza, A., & Batebi, A. (2011). Psychological Consequences of Abortion among the Post Abortion Care Seeking Women in Tehran. Iranian journal of psychiatry, 6(1), 31–36. 
  15. Coleman, P. K., Rue, V. M., & Spence, M. (2006, December 31). Intrapersonal Processes and Post-Abortion Relationship Challenges: A Review and Consolidation of Relevant Literature. The Internet Journal of Mental Health.  
  16. Coleman, P.K., Rue, V.M., Coyle, C.T. (2009). Induced abortion and intimate relationship quality in the Chicago Health and Social Life Survey. Public Health, 123(4):331–38. 
  17. Reardon, D.C., Longbons T. Effects of Pressure to Abort on Women’s Emotional Responses and Mental Health. Cureus. Published online January 31, 2023. doi:10.7759/cureus.34456 
  18. Oberg, M. (2014). Prevalence of intimate partner violence among women seeking termination of pregnancy compared to women seeking contraceptive counseling. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 93(1), 45-51. 
  19. Pallitto, C. C., & Garcia-Morena, C. (2013). Intimate partner violence, abortion, and unintended pregnancy: results from the WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 120(1), 3-9
  20. Huang, Z., Hao, J., Su, P., Huang, K., Xing, X., Cheng, D., Xiao, L., Xu, Y., Zhu, X., & Tao, F. T. (2012). The impact of prior abortion on anxiety and depression symptoms during a subsequent pregnancy: data from a population-based cohort study in China. Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
  21. Cougle J.R., Reardon D.C., Coleman PK. Depression associated with abortion and childbirth: a long-term analysis of the NLSY cohort. Med Sci Monit. 2003 Apr;9(4):CR105-12. PMID: 12709667.

Call 866-406-9327 and get help now.

All of our services are 100% free and confidential. We exist to provide accurate medical information and support to women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy. Our pregnancy centers do not offer or refer for pregnancy terminations or birth control. Information is provided as an educational service and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.