Grief After Abortion: healing from unspoken loss

There are posts that we write here on WYG that travel like wildfire.  In the course of a day or two we see the reach on social media climb, people commenting, sharing and resharing.  We love it, because it reminds us that grievers want to help other grievers.  They want to share help and support and let others know they are not alone.  Color me a pessimist, but I have a strong feeling that today’s post will NOT be one of those posts.  I have that feeling despite the fact that today’s post topic touches over a million women in the US every year.   Why?  Because unfortunately today’s topic is one that is so entrenched in politics and rhetoric that as a society we are often scared to utter the word, to talk about the experience, to acknowledge the emotions, to support one another.  Our fear that even a mention of the A-word will bring an onslaught of comments, attacks and hurt feelings keeps even helping professionals quiet, to the detriment of those who silently suffer.

Whether you are a woman who has had an abortion or a woman who knows someone who has, millions of men and women are impacted by abortion.  The bad news is, despite the huge number of people impacted by abortion (over a million men and women every year in the US), only small subset are sharing their experiences.  The good news is, a small subset are sharing their experience and the abortion grief resources are slowly growing.  This post is not about politics or religion.  It is not about opinions or beliefs.  It is about doing what we value most here at WYG: helping anyone struggling with the pain of any type of loss to find support.

Where do we  begin?

With a disclaimer, of course!  Just like any experience of loss, the emotions after an abortion will differ from person to person.  There is no normal, so don’t freak out if your experience isn’t what you expected, or didn’t look like the post-abortion experience of someone else you know.  This post is about considering the huge range of experience women may have, knowing that you may have all, some, or none of what we discuss.  And that’s okay.

Ok, now where do we really start?

You can’t talk about grief after abortion without talking first about pregnancy.  It may seem unnecessary, because the assumptions is that the grief comes from the termination of that pregnancy, not the pregnancy itself.  But the reality is that many of the complex emotions women are left to cope with begin as soon as a woman learns (or even suspects) she is pregnant.  In the case of an unplanned pregnancy, this is when the fear, confusion, anger, blame, conflict, guilt, shame, isolation, and anxiety often begin.  When a pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted women are often in crisis, feeling overwhelmed by emotions, alone in their coping, and yet facing a tremendous decision.

Rather than having time to process feelings, in cases of unplanned pregnancies women often struggle to make this life-changing decision in a short time frame, while overcome with emotions, and without support.  Women often report fears around sharing the feelings about their unwanted pregnancy, assuming others will be unable to relate and will judge them.  Ironically, data shows that 1 in 2 women have had an unwanted pregnancy.  1 in 2!  With stats like that you would think there would be a more open dialogue about the experience of unwanted pregnancies and tools for coping.  Unfortunately, at a time when it may be especially helpful to have the time to process emotions, think through decisions, and seek support from others we are often left feeling alone with pressing time constraints to make a decision.  In some instances, women share their feelings and find the stigma and judgment they feared, only encouraging them not to seek further external support.

So before we even begin looking at the emotions that can impact someone grieving after an abortion, go back to the feelings that began before the abortion took place.  Start a journal, talk to someone, create art – whatever works for you to acknowledge the feelings that came up with the pregnancy itself.  Take the time you may not have had then to think about how you felt supported, how you didn’t, what emotions were impacting you at the time, what practical needs were impacting you, etc.

Where do we go next?

Give yourself the right to grieve.  One struggle with abortion is that it is a disenfranchised loss, meaning it is a loss that society doesn’t always validate.  You can read all about disenfranchised grief here, and I would strongly recommend you check that post out before continuing.  Understanding disenfranchised loss is (in my estimation) crucial to understanding the experience of an abortion.  For those who don’t like prerequisites, here is the gist: in the case of abortion one of the commonly reported feelings is that people don’t feel they have the same right to grieve the loss because it was their choice or because of the judgment and stigma around abortion.  It is important to remember that, though this loss is not identical to other losses, that does not mean it is not a valid loss.  It is an experience that you have the right to grieve.  It is part of you and your story and it is your right to feel, process, and integrate every emotion that comes with that, the good, the bad, and the complicated.

 Got it. Now what?

Find a mental and emotional space to be with your personal experience, apart from the politics of the discussion.   This is easier said than done, because there is no question our emotions are often intertwined with the politics of abortion.  Even the word abortion can be hard for many women.  In her book C.P.R: Choice Processing and Resolution, Trudy Johnson renames abortion VPT (voluntary pregnancy termination), arguing that the “A-word” brings up so many charged feelings due to its religious and political history that it is helpful to use the term VPT when reflecting on one’s personal experience, differentiating the personal journey from the politics.  Changing the language may help you, it may not.  But no matter what, finding the people and space to look at your experience in an individual, personal and unique way is the first step in seeing yourself apart from the abortion rhetoric.

Understood.  What’s next?

Identify feelings from after the abortion.  The good news?  A comprehensive review done of the psychological research shows having a legal abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy does not “pose a psychological hazard” for most women (Adler et all 1990).  The bad news?  That doesn’t mean you won’t experience grief after abortion and feel a range of complex emotions.  It may be in the short term, it may be in the long term.  Grief is not just one feeling, it is many feelings, and (as we have said many times before) it can feel like you’re going crazy (you’re not, so don’t panic!).  Research has shown that emotions after an abortion can range from sadness, relief, happiness guilt, anger, shame, to a range of other things (Adler et al).  So let’s talk about some of those . . .


One of the most common emotions reported by women immediately following an abortion is actually relief.  According 2013 data, 90% of women feel relief, in fact.  Relief may sound like a good thing, if you were expecting something like guilt, sadness or regret to be the most common emotion.  But relief is actually quite complex.  On the one hand, relief is a positive.  It can help us feel reassured that we made a decision we can live with.  It can help us to feel hopeful and optimistic about moving forward.  At the same time, it can make us feel guilty, if we worry we shouldn’t be relieved.  Or, it leaves us feeling completely confused when we feel relief and concurrently feel sadness or isolation.  Those feelings may seem at odds, which can leave us feeling conflicted.  And, on top of that, the relief may subside and make way for other emotions.


Guilt is an important and valid feeling that follows many types of loss for many reasons.  In the case of abortion there may be unique feelings of guilt, as abortion is a decision deeply intertwined with our spiritual, ethical and political belief systems.  We have a whole post on guilt, so rather than rehashing I will direct you there to check it out. It include thoughts on guilt and also ideas for coping.  While you’re at it, you can also check out our post on why you should never tell a griever (or anyone else) not to feel guilty.

In the case of abortion there may be especially complex feelings of guilt for some, if they feel the abortion compromised their spiritual, ethical or political values.  In these cases one must work through guilt on all of these levels, seeking forgiveness both from oneself, as well as from a church or a higher power.

For others there may be no guilt (or very little guilt).  In these cases some women feel great that they have no guilt.  Others report that their lack of guilt feels concerning, leaving them worried that they are avoiding in some way.  The reality is that some women never end up feeling intense guilt and that doesn’t mean you are avoiding or a bad person.  It means that, like so many other things with grief, we are all impacted differently.  If you feel no guilt early on does it mean you will never feel guilt?  Nope, it could come up down the road.  Does it mean it will definitely come up for you later?  Nope again.


As we explained in a post about overdose grief, there are many different ways you will see guilt and shame defined and contrasted against each other.  Here we mean this distinction as a contrast between a personal experience vs a relational experience.  Guilt is something we feel within ourselves, based on our own perception that we could or should have done in a certain situation. Shame is something we feel based on our perception that others think we could or should have done something differently.  In the context of abortion  shame can be an even more prevalent emotion depending on one’s religion, politics, and support system.  As shame is deeply relational, it is important to consider your support system and understand how they impact you.  Need some help doing that?  No problem – we have a post for that!


With the combination of guilt and shame, isolation can become a prevalent emotion following an abortion.  Women often feel they are all alone, despite the fact that over a million women have an abortion every year.  Feeling alone and fear of judgment from others can cause many women to stay quiet about an unplanned pregnancy or an abortion.  You can probably see the vicious cycle – we feel alone and judged, so we don’t speak up, so then others feel alone and judged, and suddenly hordes of people are struggling in silence.

What can you do?  Check out that support system post again and consider opening up to friends and family.  This can be risky – we don’t know how friends and family will react.  It is important to be thoughtful about who you’re honest with and it is important to remember that some people you hope will support you may not.  Some people you never imagined will support you might be incredibly helpful. Take a look at this post on grief and loneliness for some other ideas on coping with isolation. If your own support system isn’t giving you what you need, consider a support group or hotline, where you may be able to connect with others going through something similar and talk to people without judgment.  Many women keep their abortions a secret for months, years, or decades and express a feeling of relief and connection when they finally come to a point that they can share their experience.


Regret can set in right away, down the road, or not at all.  Regret is a complicated emotion in any kind of loss, but has especially unique considerations with abortion.  Research has shown that a week after an abortion 41% of women felt regret, though 89% of those women who felt regret after their abortion still felt it was the right choice.  Regret is not limited to women who had an abortion.  In the same study statistics showed that 50% of women who were unable to have an abortion also felt regret.  And we know regret is common in many other types of losses. In a society that embraces the ‘no regrets’ mindset, it is important not simply to ignore or repress regret, but rather to spend time to understand regret and explore its impact.  Wondering where to start?  Check out our post and journaling activity on loving your regret.  Then check out our post on individual worth and forgiveness.


This is probably the most obvious emotion with any loss. The sadness of any type of grief can become overwhelming at times, despite being normal and natural.  Even when a woman feels confident in the decision she made, there still can be sadness about the loss of a future as a mother, with that child.  Grieving a potential future together is a unique type of loss, sometimes called a secondary loss, which you can learn more about here.  It is important to feel and acknowledge sadness, and accept that it is okay to feel this emotion despite the abortion being a choice.  Sadness can be confusing when it comes simultaneously with emotions like relief and happiness, but this is the reality and complexity of grief.

 Holy crap, that’s a lot of emotions.  Anything else I need to know?

Yup, there’s more.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that different emotions may arise at different times, some years later.  These emotions can come up for different reasons and in different ways.  For example, a woman may have an abortion because at the time she becomes pregnant she unable to care for a child.  Though she may grieve in some way immediately, later in life if she is in a position to support a child, or decides to have a child, she may find emotions arising again.  A woman who has children and decides to have an abortion may find at significant moments in the lives of her children she feels pangs of sadness or guilt.  Rather than ignoring these emotions when the arise, it is important to consider that the emotions of a loss may come back up and impact us in different ways at different times in life.  Things we never expect may trigger emotions we never expect at times we never expect, because that is how grief works.  You can check out more info on triggers here and here.

What about men?

This is a great question, and one I neglected to mention specifically in the first version of this article.  As you can imagine, if women are made to feel they don’t have the right to grieve after abortion, men often feel this to an even greater extent.  Men can have all the same feelings as women after an abortion, with all the same challenges for grieving.  Layered on top of that is the unfortunate reality that men are often raised feeling less able to show emotions, feeling they have to stay strong.  On the site ‘Men and Abortion’ you can see some of the research on men’s experience with abortion.  Dr. Arthur Shostak, a professor emeritus from Drexel University, began this reseach in 1983 and continued it in 1999.  In 1983-84 he surveyed a thousand men who accompanied women to an abortion procedure in 30 clinics in 18 states.  In 1999 he surveyed 905 men in 11 clinics in eight states and Vancouver, BC.  In both cases he self-financed his research, demonstrating the limitations in funding and academic interest in exploring this area.  His website and research provides some information and resources for men coping with an abortion. Additionally, there is a book on this topic by Dr. C.T. Coyle called Men and Abortion: A Path to Healing. I have not read this book, so I cannot give it an endorsement, but with the dearth of resources out there it seems worth a mention!

Any Last Thoughts?

Of course, I could go on all day.  But I won’t.  Just want to mention that you may have had an abortion and not be feeling any of these crazy grief emotions.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that you are in denial or anything pathological.  Though many women struggle with complicated emotions after an abortion, there are plenty of women who do not.  You may find emotions arise later, you may not.  Each woman will have her own experience, unique to her.  There is no right or wrong.  It is for this reason that it can be helpful to read the experiences of other women who have had abortions.  If you are interested in reading the experience of other women, you can check out 26 abortion stories here in New York Magazine.  You can share your story and read other stories here, at the 1 in 3 website, named as a reminder that 1 in 3 women have an abortion by age 45, but so few women share their experience with others.  (a disclaimer about 1 in 3 is that they are pro-choice leaning, but encourages women to share their abortion experiences openly and honestly).  You can also share and read stories at Abortion Changes You.

Where can I turn?

Finding resources that allow for a safe space to cope, free from the politics of abortion, can be difficult.  Many website, centers, and books have some sort of political or religious agenda (on either end of the spectrum) which can confuse a woman’s personal experience.  Like with any grief support, it is about researching any resource you explore and finding something that works for you.  Below are some resource that may be of help, but we would love to know what other resources are out there that have helped you.  Leave a comment to let use know!

Exhale is a hotline and website for women post-abortion.  They are part of the ‘pro-voice’ movement, which emphasizes allowing women space to talk about their personal experiences with abortion that is free from politics or stigma. They are a national hotline and offer support in multiple languages.

The Healing Choice is a book by two pyschotherapists about post-abortion healing, based on a combination of research and their experience working with women after an abortion.

Have something to add to the discussion?  Leave a comment to let us know!  And don’t forget to subscribe to get our posts right to your email.

March 28, 2017

36 responses on "Grief After Abortion: healing from unspoken loss"

  1. I had my abortion last year December and I’ve suffered from all kinds of grief. At first I thought I was losing my mind, but reading this article and reading some of your stories I realize that it’s normal. I’m dreading December because my best friend passed away and I had an abortion all in one week. I found out I was pregnant on my birthday and the first feeling I felt was fear because it was my first time being pregnant. I’ve always told myself the day I get pregnant, I’ll just woman up and handle my responsibilities. Imagine my surprise when my boyfriend at the time who had been trying to get me pregnant for years says now isn’t the time. As much as I didn’t want to have the abortion, I didn’t want to force a child on him although I feel he knew as well as I did the consequences of having sex unprotected. So I forced myself to get the abortion. Me and the guy are no longer together, I sort of have some resentment against him because of the abortion. As for myself some days the guilt is overwhelming. I lost two people in one week and I didn’t know where to turn. I felt depressed for so long and now I’m to the point of feeling numb. I don’t know how or what steps to take to forgive myself. But talking about it or writing about it I feel is a step. I just wish I could tell my unborn how truly apologetic I am & I hope we can meet again some day so I can right my wrongs.. although I know it’ll never happen.

  2. I’m glad I came across this website today, I had a termination in 1995, and didn’t tell my family or friends, mainly because of shame. It was the anniversary yesterday and I couldn’t share it with anyone as no-one knows. I had tried for many years to get pregnant, had a miscarriage and didn’t get pregnant again. My husband left me to get married again as having children was important to him and his family and he went on to have two children. I assumed I was infertile so I didn’t use contraception in my next rebound relationship and found myself pregnant. I didn’t want a child with my current partner and so I arranged a termination. I had to give the name of a work colleague to the hospital as I was having a general anaesthetic. Afterwards I went home alone, went back to work the next day and haven’t mentioned it since. I haven’t grieved or given myself time to think properly how I feel about it. I am now 58 with no children although I always wanted a family. I have had periods of depression since then, and I wonder if it may be partly due to the termination and not working out my feelings about it. So thank you for this site, I have been reading some of the blog articles and I’ll take my time working through my grief. I’m grateful for having somewhere where I can share my story.

  3. I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I had already had one prior abortion. I felt pressured by both men to terminate. I wanted both children, the first time I wasn’t ready. But I still feel regret and everything still.

    With my second VPT… It was three months into my current relationship. We’ve been together for a year and a half now. But when we found out I was pregnant he wasn’t ready and he’s 4 years younger than me. Not only did I feel pressured by him but also his family.

    He and I both still cry alot about what happened. We both feel guilty and regretful. I miss our baby and burst out into sudden tears last night. I’m so depressed.

    I miss my baby. And I’m not sure my fiance and I have a future partly because I resent him.

    I resent him because after the abortion he and I talked about it… He had changed his mind. He wanted the baby too but it was too late.

    After my abortion… It was Christmas. A family friend found out she was pregnant and my sister was pregnant with her third child. That hurt more than anything. We never talked about my abortion… His family has basically forgotten about it. They weren’t supportive at all.

    It’s been a year and a half and I’m still severely depressed, I feel guilty and regret sadness. And I’m angry at my fiance. I resent him even though I know he also mourns our daughter. We wanted to call her Emma. I’m so sorry Emma.

    Mommy and Daddy miss you so much. I’m sorry I cry so much. Your daddy tells me to be strong that you don’t want to see me cry or feel hurt or regret anymore. But I’m still mourning you Emma. I’ll never forget you or how happy I was when I found out about you… Mommy loves you Emma.

    • I am sorry to hear of your pain. I have also experienced this pain and I lead recovery groups now through my local pregnancy center. I’d be happy to talk with you more and help connect you to a local center to find support from others. It truly is important to seek out care so you can recover fully!

  4. 💔💔💔 today was my miscarriage after a positive pregnancy test with TTC for 5 years 💔💔💔And I felt a different or real love from my husband on my first pregnancy and after the miscarriage we went back to the same way !! I Can’t sleep

  5. I can understand how it feels after ending pregnancy with the option of pill for abortion. It pains very hard while bleeding.

  6. Came across this as well. The book might be helpful to some.

  7. Since the blog does mention some might “feel the abortion compromised their spiritual” values, I’m offering a site so that those who feel this way might find hope.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this article. I had an abortion a week ago and I have all kinds of emotions which confuse the hell out of me. Especially the part where I don’t feel that I have the right to grieve my loss because it was my choice to terminate the pregnancy. It’s eating me up, but this article helped me so much. Thank you……!

  9. 30 years….. still have a huge gaping hole in my heart that can’t be filled. She was a child. You don’t just “get over” taking the life of anyone, especially your own child. I wish I had been given more information…and more support and encouragement to keep a baby even when not married. It’s especially heart breaking when a woman doesn’t get the chance to have another child. So many women out there deeply regret the decision they made to have an abortion. The $$$ making industry does its best to prevent women from finding out the truth-until it’s too late.

  10. What I am so absolutely sick and tired of hearing is the lack of support and understanding from men regarding abortion. It’s appalling to hear how many men push and coerce their partners or girlfriends or even if it was just a one night stand with a women- for them to just “get it done”. And then, to make matters worse, after a woman goes through with this incredibly traumatic procedure of having her own child taken from her…dealing with all the pain and sorrow afterwards..most men tell women to get over it, or that they are “crazy”, or they just shut down and abandon the woman. She’s been through enough!! To any man reading this who has pushed a women or manipulated her in her vulnerability, YOU ARE COWARDS. You are not men, but immature boys that when, a woman states she wants to keep her child, you throw a tantrum because of your pathetic fear that it will “interrupt” your life. You have no idea the aftermath of what an abortion brings. It’s awful. I have and am still going through this. I have been told by the guy who was involved in getting me pregnant that, “I had the power to make this all go away” . Well, it NEVER goes away. It makes things a thousand times worse and I have never experienced grief so deep and depression so intense. I long for my child back and what enhances the pain is that he is living his life without a care in the world. He has NO idea. So before you push or coerce or manipulate your partner or wife or girlfriend to just “take care of things and get an abortion “….I beg you to think twice. Think about what SHE is going through and the beautiful life that is inside her. Think about what will be taken from her and what she may go through afterwards. This may “go away” for you as a man…but it never leaves a woman. Your mother carried you, so as a man..STEP UP AND RESPECT WOMEN FOR THEY ARE THE LIFE GIVERS IN THIS WORLD.

  11. Great article.
    I had an abortion 14 years ago and every year on the anniversary of the termination all the feelings of guilt come back to me, and the feelings are hard to deal with.
    My current partner is not supportive at all, while I’m all emotional and upset he gets angry thinking I’m pining over an ex partner, Which couldn’t be further from the truth. When I think of my abortion I think of myself , the trauma and emotions I went through.
    It’s very difficult when you don’t have a support network, other than my current partner I haven’t told anyone about the abortion. It gets lonely when all you have is yourself to deal with your emotions and guilt. I have had counselling before, which helps a bit. I’m hoping one day it will get easier.

  12. I had a lot of these emotions and I also wanted to add that the feelings can really be amplified because of the hormones involved. I am able to realize some of my sadness and grief were related to the chemical changes in my body. It took me several years to process (therapy really helped) and I know now it was absolutely the right decision for me and my family. Peace comes. Let it in and if you need someone professional to talk to make sure you find someone supportive of your choice.

  13. I just had an abortion yesterday and i totally feel everything mentioned here.i have lost myself

    • I understand how you feel. It will be 4 years this December. I have never felt the same. Right now you should focus on taking care of yourself. Give yourself permission to be sad and angry. It takes time to heal. It takes time to forgive (even yourself).

  14. I aborted a baby at almost nine weeks yesterday. I’m feeling every single one of these emotions. Mainly sadness and regret. I wish I could have kept him, but it was in danger to my health and I don’t feel I could have carried him without several medical complications. I have three children already to care for and no one to help with them if I were to be put on bed rest or in a hospital. I have extreme Hyperemesis Gravardium during each pregnancy that leaves me unable to function. With a third grader, an active toddler, and a difficult pregnancy that resulted in my 7 month old, being constantly sick just wasn’t an option. I was on birth control after my youngest was born and somehow it failed. I took it exactly as directed as I’ve done in the past and never missed a pill. Even knowing I had to do this for my health and to be able to care for my children I already have, I still feel so sad. I made myself look at the fetus when it passed. ( I used the abortion pill method) And now I can’t get the image of him out of my mind.

  15. Nice post. Please visit A Woman’s Haven for free abortion counselling.

  16. How do I not hate man in general for doing this to us? I love my husband but by him disrespecting our agreement over a few seconds of pleasure has put me through so much emotional and physical and psychological pain.

  17. Father asking how to get past a very unusual abortion.

    I am a 39 year old recently retired U.S. Marine. I was married at 19, had my only child at 20. During my first tour in Afghanistan, my wife cheated and got pregnant. Naturally I filed for divorce. I had every summer with my daughter coming to stay at the base I was stationed, but I still missed so much of her life. But I knew I was a great dad, and wanted to have more kids one day. Well, on 2nd tour in Afghanistan, out exploded, I was injured in the groin area and leg. During surgery, the doctor removed pieces so close to my manhood, it cut me farther, leaving doctor no choice but to perform a vasectomy to be able to get where he needed to, to fix the problem that was causing me to bleed to death. So, I dealt with I wouldn’t have anymore kids, but I was alive.
    At the age of 37, I meet the most amazing woman. I told her my story around time I felt might be getting close to having sex in the relationship. She was okay, as she was a single mother for so long,she was okay if we didn’t have any kids. So both on board we fall in love, and have unprotected sex, every time.10 months into the relationship, she tells me one day, she has been feeling exhausted, throwing up, and had missed a period, so she was going to the gyn Dr as she had done this before due to irregular period side effects, she called them. When she returns to my house, she pulls out a pregnancy test and says, I’m pregnant. Well, I’m shocked, I had a vasectomy. Now it’s hitting me, this is how I lost my wife. I become furious. I scream, I cuss, and say some of the most hurtful and awful things to her, cause she has cheated and gotten pregnant. For 2 weeks we tried to work threw things, but it always ended in an argurment, cause she would consistently say, she didn’t cheat and the baby was mine. So, because we argued so much, I had to have a break. I ignored her calls, I hide inside house if she came by, when she see me in town I made excuses of being busy and promised I would come by to talk as soon as things slowed down. I did this for 2 weeks. After I finally calmed down, I realized I needed to talk to her, and find out why she was still lying about cheating, I had to have closure before I ended everything with her. I asked why she lied about cheating, and still stuck to the story that it was mine. I left and was done, but not before I really let her have it verbally, it was bad. 6 weeks later I have a lump come up on my testicle. Head to doctor, they do some test, and I find out I have a small cyst from an ingrown hair that had small bit of infection, nothing major doctor says, take antibiotics and it’ll go down, but we found something else during the testing. Doctor says to me, that the fluids I donated for the test, showed something that didnt match up with my medical records. Doctor says, I got your records out and sure enough, you had a full vasectomy preformed. Doctor says, the fluid had sperm in it, meaning my vasectomy was a failure. My heart sank. I rushed to my now ex girlfriend, and was so happy, she didn’t cheat, she was pregnant with my child, I never thought I could be so happy. I went to in her house to see her, and she was so pale, and looked as if she had cried non stop for days. I asked her if she was okay, she said she had an abortion and was just upset.

    Because I wouldn’t listen to her swearing she hadn’t cheated, and being so hurtful to her, and the horrible things I said, she felt she had no other choice. She felt horrible, but she had raised one child as a single mom, and she just knew she couldn’t do it again.

    Now the question. How do I get past this. My behavior and absences pushed her to have any abortion. How do I get past that my attitude, words, action, and unwillingness to listen cause my child to be killed by an abortion. I can’t talk to her, as she hates me now that I told her I found out it was mine.

    How do I feel with the fact that my stubbornness killed my 2nd child?

    Also, bash if you must in your answers, nothing you reply with can cause more guilt or pain than I already have.

    • I am so incredibly sorry for what you are going through. There is no reason for anyone to bash you. You had a difficult, traumatic incident in your past that impacted your actions in this situation. I wish there was an easy answer, but there isn’t- it will likely be a slow process of self-forgiveness. Some things to keep in mind are that it is easy to get stuck in “coulda, woulda, shoulda” thinking when using what you know now looking back. It is important to remember that you didn’t have some information then, so you were doing the best you could with what you knew at the time, and with the influence of a very difficult past. We have a number of posts on guilt that might be helpful for you. This is a good one to start with:

    • I can’t say I understand
      I can’t say I didn’t cry reading your story
      I can’t give you a solution
      I can’t say I haven’t wasted many many years of my life struggling with grief
      I can’t say I’ve never made a mistake
      I can’t say I’ve never hurt someone
      I can’t say I’ve never hurt myself
      And I can’t say I lived happily after

      But I CAN say that one day I forgave myself.

  18. hi im Kate yes im 18 I know how this feels I lost my babe because my boyfriend didn’t want one is it still bugging me yes do I sometimes want to die I will never be the same and I hate home for it and I feel like he don’t love me anymore

    • I know your post was from a while ago, but if you want to talk I am here! I hope you are feeling more hopeful, but if not there is help!!

  19. My abortion was many years ago. 30 years now. Frequently I feel all the emotions the article talked about. In time the feelings do dissipate. But they do. without as strong emotions,return. I am pro life. I was on a medication called Accutane. Too during the same time I was experimenting stage 4 endometriosis. I too was on medication for that. Give a long time history of this insidious disease I could not get pregnant and then the day came that I was. Shocking . The man who was the father I did not love and he was a mess. given I had been on Accutane, I had to report the pregency to Boston University. Without so called advising me to have an abortion they painted a picture of bringing into the world a human that would know nothing more than chronic pain and surgeries and a short lived life. How could I subject a baby human into a cold world of hospitals and pain. One of the most disturbing comments said was that Accutane children are frequently born with organs outside of their body. How disturbing. I decided with the father to end the pregency. The morning of, in the waiting room, I was crying , so confused about my choice, was i doing the right thing, i wanted this child, I didn’t want to be condemned to hell. The doctor assistance spoke to me as if my outward emotions were so inappropriate , they spoke to me in angry tones and basically said leave or toughen up. I moved forward due to having this disease and much scare tissue the procedure was painful and I was screaming. Once it was over and I rejoined the father in the waiting room I had a smile on my face that the excoriating pain was over. He hated that and held it against me. 29 years had passed and David called me. He had a trouble mind. I offered my help but he refused. A few months later I went on FB to see how he was and he was dead. He committed suicide. I pray he is with our child’s soul and together they find comfort and peace. On my local TV station there is a PSA commercial and a beautiful little boy, who was born with his organs outside of his body is a survivor. I don’t know if he was an Accutane child. But of course this commercial haunts me and caused me to second guess myself. My pro life has somewhat yield itself to drastic situations but then again… I remain heart broken.I,ve never married or became pregnant. Eventually this diesase , surgery by surgery left me sterile and other organs were affected besides the overies and uterus. Now alone and in my 50s. I still grive the loss of my baby and now David. God forgive me and have mercy on me.

  20. I had an abortion this past wednesday, i was 13 weeks & 4 days. I had no idea I was pregnant until about a week & a half ago. This was my biggest regret. My boyfriend of almost 3 years & i have been having some issues, we fight alot. & when i found out i was pregnant, i just broke down. Im 19 years old, and im ashamed that i wasnt brave enough to take this baby with me through the full term & now i pay the consequences. While i had the procedure done, i was sedated. I saw a bag of blood and i saw the fetus. This baby, my flesh & blood, has been taken away from me. This was my first baby. I lost myself when i lost this baby. My boyfriend tells me to get over it, but its too soon. & i dont think i ever will. I need hope. I cant stop crying. I cant eat. I wish i could go back & keep this baby. 🙁 please email me if you want to talk or have been through a similar situation; [email protected]

    • You’re not alone. You’re not a bad person for choosing to have an abortion. It hurts, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to give it time. After my abortion I did lots of writing in a journal… it helped. I allowed myself to cry. Keep your head up and take care of yourself first.

  21. Thanks for the post. I have had a lot to deal with especially the stigma. It is a subject that no one takes so lightly.

  22. Oh, it sure must be somewhat a difficult subject just talking about abortion. It’s something that my sister is thinking about talking to her daughter. Well, now that her daughter is a teenager and she does want her to receive some counseling about the topic.

  23. Thank you, I read the post because I created a very similar print when I wasaw date-raped. It was important to merge the pregnancy aspect in your post and regret and sorrow years later.

  24. This is a great article, but you should remove the links to, which has a clear anti-choice agenda, and Missing Pieces. Missing Pieces is by a Christian pro-life speaker who, according to her own bio page on her management’s website, “weaves her own testimony and also the stories and comments from real clients into abortion statistics that help audiences grasp the destruction that abortion brings women, men and families in our nation.” Your assertion that she doesn’t have a religious or political perspective is untrue (

    They’re both obvious anti-choice resources that are, in no way, neutral or unbiased. However, Exhale is great, and The Healing Choice appears all right as well.

    • Hi Margaret – Thanks for pointing that out about Missing Pieces! Someone else referred it to me and clearly I didn’t look into it deeply enough. I am going to remove it. For, I am going to remove it (because better safe than sorry) but this one is less clear to me. I researched this one in advance, because I didn’t have any knowledge of it other than reading a blog post where someone cited it as helpful, and the site seemed fairly neutral (minus the name, which could be read as negative). The stories on the site are primarily negative abortion experiences, but a lot of the content around creating safe spaces is positive and reasonably helpful. I did see this artice in the NYTs ( speculating that their neutrality is a ruse. It is a shame that sifting through resources can be this difficult to identify alterior motives – some of the activities you can do on the site are really interesting, it is a shame that things aren’t always what they seem. And, to be fair, there are people who would argue that exhale itself is political by excluding the stories of people who have politics within their stories ( though I understand why exhale may feel they need to be thoughtful about this. If anyone has any recommendation on other ‘neutral’ resources PLEASE let me know, as it seems they are few and far between!!

  25. Yes, as a retired proofreader, hard to read. But bottom line: Not ALL pregnancy terminations cause any grief, regret, etc. If the surgeons weren’t allowed to remove my TWO ectopic pregnancies during our fertility treatments, I’d be dead myself. Couple that with the fact that my husband would have been left alone to raise our babies, but then he died at age 34, I can’t find ANY reason to be in “grief”. Nobody I know uses abortion as birth control, etc., but as a LIFE-SAVING MEASURE !! Shame on you for writing this trash. You really missed the mark on this one.

    • Mom of Three Sons, I am sorry this post missed the mark for you. Just as you mention, I said specifically in the post that many women do not feel grief after an abortion, for many reasons. We absolutely agree there. What I also know is that people do have abortions for other, non-life-saving reasons every day. Not all of those women grieve — many do not. But many do. We wrote this post specifically because we have gotten questions from people who are struggling with their emotions after an abortion, and I have seen it in my practice working with individuals over the last 10 years. As I say in the post, having these complex emotions is not about right or wrong or even the reason for the abortion. Many men and women have complex emotions, despite feeling it was the right decision for medical reasons or for other reason. It is about letting those individuals know it is okay to have complicated emotions, and giving people some resources to support that. I am sorry this post didn’t work for you, and I appreciate you sharing that as I am sure others will relate. But I do strongly believe from the questions we have gotten in the past and others I have worked with that there are some people out there who may benefit.

  26. Good for WYG. I really appreciate this article, even though I’ve never had an abortion. It is a very hard issue to deal with, as you state, partly because of getting around all these issues with abortion itself. I appreciate the way you tackle grief issues in general, and I commend you for undertaking this potentially hot topic. I hope you’ll post this (the article) on Facebook so I can share it.

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