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Who Is Most at Risk?

Some people seem to come through an abortion unchanged. Others struggle for years with feelings of grief, guilt, shame, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, or depression. Still others have problems with nightmares, eating disorders, broken or abusive relationships, substance abuse, and even suicide. 

It is possible for any woman to unexpectedly have a bad emotional reaction to an abortion. But researchers have identified several factors that predict which women are most likely to suffer the most severe reactions. 

The best-established risk factors include: feeling pressured to have an abortion; strong maternal tendencies; a desired pregnancy; feelings of attachment to the unborn child; a history of prior psychological illness or emotional instability; lack of support from her parents or her male partner; adolescence; prior beliefs that abortion is immoral; a history of prior abortion(s); or abortion in the second or third trimester. 

A woman who has one or more of these factors is likely to have strong negative reactions to an abortion. The best estimates indicate that at least four out of every five women undergoing abortion today fall into one or more of these high-risk categories. How many of these women will actually have post-abortion emotional problems is still unknown. 

For a more complete list of known risk factors, plus a breakdown of the percentages of women seeking abortion who fall within many of these categories, and citations to the medical literature documenting these risk factors, visit our web site at and follow the link to the Hope&Healing version of this article. 

Click here for a more complete outline and discussion of known risk factors

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