(PAS) is the term used to describe a woman's inability to process the feelings of fear, anger, sadness, grief and guilt surrounding her abortion experience. Research indicates that during the time immediately following an abortion, many women experience "psychological numbing." In order to protect their emotional stability, many women employ psychological defense mechanisms to repress any uncomfortable or disturbing feelings. As a result, many emotional reactions to abortions are delayed, sometimes for more than 5 or 10 years.
Many post-abortive women vow they will never again allow themselves to be put in such a vulnerable position. As a result, they work extremely hard to keep their emotions on a flat level --- without highs and lows. This greatly hampers their ability to form and maintain close bonds with others.
This phenomenon is a increase of painful memories around the time of the anniversary of the abortion or the projected due date of the baby annually. It is fairly common among women with PAS.
Preoccupation With Becoming Pregnant
A significant percentage of women who abort become pregnant again within one year. This desire to be pregnant again seems to represent the hope that the new pregnancy will serve as a replacement for the one which was aborted.
Anxiety Over Childbearing Issues
Inability to Bond
A post-abortive woman may not allow herself to become attached to another developing child during pregnancy, because of the fear of loss listed above. If a woman already has other children at the time of her abortion, she may unconsciously disconnect herself emotionally from them, or, in extreme cases, abuse them because children no longer seem valuable.
Women with PAS sometimes develop eating disorders: large weight gain or loss may make her feel less attractive and therefore make her feel as if she is less likely to become pregnant again. A dramatic weight loss may even shut down her menstrual cycle.
Alcohol and drugs often serve as a form of self-medication from life's painful realities. Unfortunately, the mental and physical complications of chemical dependency only amplify the symptoms of PAS.
This may take the form of choosing or staying in abusive relationships, promiscuity, failure to take care reasonable medical care, or deliberately hurting herself physically or emotionally. It is possible for a woman with a abortion experience to have other symptoms such as rage, nervousness, hatred toward men or regret. Studies have found that women who abort are 25% more likely to seek psychiatric care than women with no prior abortion experience. One study noted that women have "only a 50% chance of getting over their abortion experience within 5 to 7 months." Among those who were still struggling, "none of those we were able to see at 14 months post-abortion had improved," If what you have read sound like you, or someone you know, please call us.
What percentage of women experience some form of PAS?
The early defense mechanisms are very effective in keeping painful memories away, but they consume a lot of mental energy. Eventually, if enough stress enters the life of a woman who has had an abortion, she may find herself without the ability to cope.
A variety of experiences may trigger symptoms associated with PAS. The symptoms described here may not happen all at the same time, but if a woman experiences any of them, we can help.
"Identifying and Overcoming Post Abortion Syndrome," by Paul Reisser, M.D., and Terry Reisser, M.S. Sources: Psychological Reactions Reported After Abortion, The Post Abortion Review, Vol 2., No. 3 1995, Elliot Institute, Open Arms, National Office PO Box 9292 Colorado Springs, CO 80923 , "Psychological Sequelae of Therapeutic abortion in Young Unmarried Women," Judith Wallerstein, Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 27 1972