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Effects of Abortion on Mental Health


Abortion is one of the areas in healthcare services. It deals with issues concerning contraception, sterilization and abortion. In most of the countries, women have legal rights to choose in favor of abortion. However, such decisions do not solve the mental, ethical and moral issues connected with abortion. Legal right of a person does not necessarily imply with moral right. In the nursing profession, professionals should determine their roles in the abortion procedure. Even if the patient decides to have an abortion, it remains an open question whether nursing professionals will and should choose to participate in the procedure (Fry, Veatch, & Taylor, 2011, p. 260).

In some societies, abortion involves cultural and religious issues. For example, if an unmarried teenager becomes pregnant, then her parents, relatives or partner may force her to do an abortion. On the other hand, in some societies, abortion may take place if the fetus is not the sex the parents or relatives wanted. In most circumstances, medical authorities perform abortion procedures by applying sterilization methods. Serious issues of consent arise when a young patient claims that she has been sterilized without her permission. Such conditions may create mental and physical harms to the patient. Thus, nursing care authorities should be careful in abortion procedures (Fry, Veatch, & Taylor, 2011, p. 262).


In 2000, Finland government funded a study to find out the effects of abortion on mental and physical health of women. The study proved that women who terminate pregnancy have four times more chances to die in the following year than women who give birth to a child. In such situations, most women become mentally ill after abortion and, as a result, they become physically ill. Moreover, women who carry a child till the end of a term are only half as likely to die, compared to women who opt for abortion. The further research has revealed that women who opt for abortion have seven times more chances to commit suicide or to die in accidents or other fatal injuries, due to increased risk-taking behavior. Also, there are many other serious medical problems that can occur in the result of abortion. According to the medical studies, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is twice higher for women who had done an abortion in the past. Internal bleeding, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Placenta previa are some of the conditions that can occur because of abortion. Also, women who opt for abortion are more prone to mental disorders and depression (Abortion Facts, 2013).

Abortion exerts immense effects on a woman. Abortion procedures can injure a woman’s reproductive organs and can cause her to lose her fertility. Also, issues such as the abortion-depression link, the abortion-breast cancer link, the abortion-suicide link are gaining widespread coverage. The psychological damage, which is also known as Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS), can be physical, emotional, moral, social, or medical. Its consequences are seen as long lasting and destructive (Effects of Abortion, n.d.).

Currently, medical professionals use different birth control techniques. Scientists have invented different pills and technologies to control unwanted childbirth. However, these methods may create mental dilemmas to a woman. Contraception and sterilization are two common methods of birth control.


Contraception or fertility control are the methods or devices that prevent pregnancy. These methods include oral pills, vaginal rings, patches and injections. The value of contraception is closely related with the ethics of abortion. Some similar issues of sexual morality are raised, including moral legitimacy of manipulation of the procreative process. However, such processes may affect women physically and mentally. Most of the birth control pills do not protect women against HIV or sexually transmitted diseases. Researches proved that women who use the patch have more chances to get dangerous blood clots in the lungs or legs. The risks of blood clotting increase, if the woman smokes or has other health problems. Often, such health conditions make a woman mentally weak and stressed.

Historians have provided two moral arguments against contraception. According to the classical argument, Roman Catholic moral theology does not accept contraception. The moral reason behind this limitation is that there are natural ends of bodily processes that cannot be disrupted without moral impunity. On the other hand, the second argument is that the toleration of contraception might encourage illegal sexual activities and it will improve women’s health. Some people do not think that the first argument is not convincing, whereas most of the people think that the second argument is convincing because they find that condoning contraception implies condoning unacceptable sexual activities (Fry, Veatch, & Taylor, 2011, p. 270).


The nursing staffs perform sterilization procedures to perform an abortion. It is one of the complicated processes, which can make a woman physically and mentally weak and stressed. Sterilization raises several ethical and moral questions and complications. Many people find the sterilization particularly objectionable because it is often presumed irreversibly. Many healthcare employees who are committed to rational planning and keep one’s options open have traditionally been unwilling to participate in sterilization methods. In fact, nursing professionals face ethical dilemmas in sterilization and they have been known to refuse to consider sterilizing methods. Especially, for younger women and women who have not borne many children (Singh et al., 2009).

Nurses must approach complicated issues of abortion with patience and even-tempered methods. They must understand the situation first, such as why the patient wants to get an abortion, and then need to take decisions. In some circumstances, if they find that an abortion is necessary, then they must provide medical services to the patient. Also, they must follow the medical laws, when they perform their actions. In any case, they must not break legal rights of a person by providing medical treatment. Thus, they can save the lives of women and newly born babies (Singh et al., 2009).

Serious Effects of Abortion

Abortion can be described as a fundamental aspect of human behavior which has been practiced by almost all classes, societies of ancient China, Greece, Egypt, Rome, and many others. However, due to the ban on abortion in many countries, it is performed under unhygienic and unsafe conditions at many places. Every year, millions of women face mental illnesses as a result of abortion. Around 78,000 women in the world die from illegal and unsafe abortions. One-third of the women in the world do not have access to legal or safe abortions. More than 30% of women who have an unsafe abortion suffer from severe complications, such as infertility, or sepsis and hemorrhaging. Almost every statistic and research shows that the abortion and corresponding death rate does not depend on developed and less developed regions. For instance, in Sweden, despite legalization of abortion, abortion rate is merely 19 per 1000 women. Ironically, their birth-rate increased to more than two children per woman since 1990’s. In Canada, there is no restriction on abortion and the maternal mortality rate for abortion is the lowest in the entire world, i.e. 0.1 per 100,000 abortions (Arthur, 1999).

In contrast, in countries where abortion is illegal, situation is very critical. Except Cuba and Guyana, abortion is illegal in every country in Central and South America. Yet, it is widely practiced illegally. Every year, at least 4 million illegal abortions occur in Latin America, which is the highest estimated rate of unsafe abortions in the world. In Brazil, every year 250,000 women are hospitalized due to unsafe abortion. In Asian countries like Nepal, Pakistan and African countries like Nigeria, Uganda conditions are worse than others. In every 100,000 abortions in Africa, 680 women die, which is over twice the average for developing countries, and almost 680 times the number of developed nations. In Ethiopia, 55% of maternal mortality rises from illegal abortion (Arthur, 1999).


In conclusion, considering all facts and scientific proofs, it is clear that abortion causes damage to a woman’s health and her life in various aspects. It is an inhuman act of intentional killing of life. It exerts immense effects on mental states of women. Abortion can create the risks of injury to a woman’s reproductive organs and loss of her fertility. It can make women mentally weak and they can have the issues of depression, breast cancer and Post-Abortion Syndrome. Also, it causes physical, emotional, moral, social and medical effects on a woman’s mind. Moreover, a woman has the legal rights to get an abortion, but morally it is not correct. So, medical practitioners must face such issues with patience. They must understand the situation and then take effective decisions. Nevertheless, abortion is not the answer to the issue of unwanted pregnancy and it should not be legalized. Instead of it, by providing wide options of contraception, by spreading awareness about safe sex, and imposing strict laws, government can restrain abortion rates in the country.


Abortion facts. (2013). Retrieved from

Arthur, J. (1999, October). Legal abortion: The sign of a civilized society. Pro-Choice Action Network. Retrieved from

Effects of abortion (n.d.). Retrieved from

Fry, S. T., Veatch, R. M., & Taylor, C. R. (2011). Case studies in nursing ethics, fourth edition. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett.

Singh, S., Wulf, D., Hussain, R., Bankole, A., & Sedgh, G. (2009). Abortion worldwide: A decade of uneven progress. Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from