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Symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS)

There are no scientifically proven benefits for abortion. Abortion has never been proven to be safe. The normal cycle beginning with intercourse, impregnation and fertilization is designed to end in the birth of a child. When abortion shortens that cycle, there are devastating effects to the body and to the mind. Post Abortion Syndrome is formally defined as a category of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may be either acute or delayed. Women who have undergone abortion may be grouped as :

Those who are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on an acute or chronic basis.

Those who have no symptoms, but are at a risk at some future stress point, e.g. a new pregnancy, or the inability either to conceive or to complete a pregnancy, or at times, some other major loss or crisis may act as the trigger.

In the acute form, the symptoms generally appear within six months of the abortion and are frequently resolved within the next six months. The delayed type, however, shows much later onset, and the symptoms last longer. In many cases of the delayed type, a specific trigger evokes PAS e.g. admission to hospital, the birth of a child or a traumatic event involving, perhaps, the death of a relative or the child of a close friend. There are wide ranges of symptoms and every woman with PAS need not experience the following.

  1. Guilt
    It seems obvious to say that any woman who volunteers to destroy the life of the child she is carrying must, at some time or another, feel guilt. If this is not acknowledged and resolved then, it may manifest itself in a number of random symptoms. Some women become shopaholics, consume excessive alcohol or engage in frantic activity within their homes and with voluntary causes. The women may actually blame the person who made arrangements for her abortion. Some women become self-deprecating (I'm no good to anyone. I'm just a waste of air), others may attempt suicide ("Murderers deserve to die"). Some women get angry with others in her immediate social network, relationships become threatened (He's so fed up with my misery, he's found someone else), men, in general, may be blamed ("If it weren't for their lust there wouldn't be abortions"), and even her parents may be condemned for not protecting her ("Why didn't they stop me from seeing him?"). In many cases the guilt may be intensified by personification of the aborted babies. Many mothers claim that they knew the sex of their baby ("It just felt like a little girl") and they weave around this gender a set of characteristics and traits of a child who never was.

  2. Fear
    Several women fear for the safety of their surviving children. Their argument goes something like: "If I can kill one child, couldn't I harm another?" Another form of fear may lead the woman to believe that she is a threat to her own life.

  3. Grief
    Abortion creates a more difficult grief for the mother because she has consented to the 'killing' of her child. And there is little support for the woman, as people generally don't recognize that there is a reason for grief after a voluntary abortion.

  4. Anger
    Women feel aggressive towards the person who persuaded them to have an abortion. There are frequent desires for retaliation. They feel angry because they have been denied the gratification that loving and being loved by their baby might have brought them (particularly young women who were neglected or insufficiently loved at home, as children).

  5. Disturbances of the Hormonal Cycle
    Once a woman gets pregnant, a lot of powerful hormones are released in her body. If this hormonal cycle is abruptly terminated by an abortion, there may be a feeling of aimlessness and depression caused by the chemical effects.

  6. Anniversary reactions
    Frequently, a year after an abortion there is an escalation of many of these symptoms including physical ones such as abdominal pain. Grief, anger and the desire for retaliation also surface at the time that the child would have been born. A weaker form of this reaction may also be felt on Festivals, even when there are other children present. The mother may experience an acute sense of loss, an absence of a child who should be present.

    Many other symptoms may emerge. These include: sleeplessness, appetite disorders (They do not take trouble to watch their diets and become over-weight on the grounds that they no longer wish to be attractive to men and so can avoid relationships which may become sexual), parenting problems over the management of other children, depression, psychosomatic illnesses and, for many, a profound fear of becoming a parent. They deny themselves the pleasure of the birth of another child on the grounds that they have destroyed one child and may become abusers of another.

In worst cases, women are liable to have fetal fantasies, uncontrollable weeping, a preoccupation with the mechanism of abortion and sexual dysfunction. Among the common symptoms of PAS are guilt, depression, grief, anxiety, sadness, shame, helplessness and hopelessness. These may result in lowered self-esteem, distrust, hostility towards self and others, insomnia or recurring dreams (these dreams are often filled with fear, mutilation, empty prams, crying babies, lost children and death). Even though a woman cannot see or hear what is happening to her baby during an abortion, her mind is recording what is happening. During sleep, it is not possible for the mind to detach and deny the abortion. Therefore, the recorded abortion sensations break through as dreams. These visuals and sometimes auditory sensations, may represent what happened during the abortion, not only to the unborn baby, but also to the mother. Dreams should be taken seriously.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) already present in the mother may worsen after abortion. We are all afraid of our own aggression, but we have an instinctual restraint that guards us from hurting those we love. When that instinctual restraint has been damaged by an abortion, people realize that it may be harder to rely on that instinctual restraint when they become very angry. Therefore, they become frightened of the possibility of hurting others.

Some women experience psycho-physiological symptoms, such as eating disorders, and suicidal ideation, and attempts are not uncommon. Neither is alcohol or drug abuse, sexual dysfunction, insecurity, emotional numbness, flashbacks of the abortion, fetal fantasies, uncontrollable weeping, confused and/or distorted thinking. Victims of PAS need support and often therapy as well. It isn’t just a matter of them coming to accept the loss of their aborted child, it is also the need to come to terms with their role in that loss and the overwhelming guilt that can come with it. Self-esteem has to be re-built.

Physical Effects:

  • Bleeding is common. Most get by, but some need blood transfusions.
  • Death due to infection, haemorrhage and uterine perforation.
  • Pelvic abscess, almost always from a perforation of the uterus and sometimes also of the bowel. Sepsis (blood poisoning, septicemia).
  • Salpingitis, an infection in the fallopian tube. Infection is probably most commonly associated with fragments of placenta left behind in the womb. These form a fertile culture medium. An inactive infection is sometimes present in the fallopian tubes before the operation, and this is activated by the abortion, resulting in Salpingitis afterwards. According to a British Medical Journal, Therapeutic Abortion and Chlamydial Infection, vol 286 “These cases are particularly at risk of becoming infertile. Modern antibiotics often cannot eradicate completely the milder sort of pelvic infection which leads to menstrual irregularities, infertility and chronic pain in later years”.
  • Infection in the womb and tubes, often does permanent damage. The fallopian tube is a fragile organ, a very tiny bore tube. If infection injures it, it often seals shut. The typical infection involving these organs is known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
  • Infertility: PID is difficult to manage and often leads to infertility, even with prompt treatment. Approximately 10% of women will develop tubal adhesions leading to infertility after one episode of PID, 30% after two episodes, and more than 60% after three episodes.
  • Acute inflammatory conditions occur in 5% of the cases, whereas permanent complications such as chronic inflammatory conditions of the female organs and sterility are definitely higher in women who aborted during their first pregnancy.
  • Abortion causes tubal pathology. Ectopic [tubal] pregnancies are registered in 20-30% of these women. The thin-walled tube cannot support this life, and it soon ruptures, causing internal bleeding and requiring emergency surgery. If the abortionist’s curette scrapes or cuts too deeply across the opening of the tubes, there is scar formation. When partial blockage is a result of this procedure, the microscopic sperm can still travel through the tube to fertilize the ovum as it breaks out of the ovary. After fertilization, this new human life, many hundred times larger than the sperm, may not be able to get back through the tube if it has been partly scarred or closed. Then the tiny baby nests in the tube, and the mother has an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Women who have had an abortion are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The normal cycle of growth and development is interrupted by the abortion and the breast cell growth becomes uncontrolled.
  • Miscarriages of the third trimester (even mid-trimester) or premature delivery: The main reason for this is cervical incompetence. This can result from the too-early, forceful dilatation (stretching open) of the cervix (mouth of the womb). During an abortion procedure, the cervical muscle must be stretched open. There is no harm to the muscle in a D&C performed because of a spontaneous miscarriage, as the cervix is usually soft and often open. Also, there is rarely any damage caused by a D&C done on a woman for excessive menstruation or other medical reasons. When, however, a normal, well-rooted placenta and growing baby are scraped out of a firmly closed uterus, protected by a long unripe cervix, this muscle can be and often is torn. If enough muscle fibres are torn, the cervix is permanently weakened, most damage being done if this is her first pregnancy. The lowest part of a woman’s uterus is the cervix, and, when a woman is pregnant and stands upright, the baby’s head rests on it, in effect, bouncing up and down on the "door" throughout the pregnancy. The muscle must be intact and strong in order to keep the cervix closed. If it is weak or "incompetent", it may not stay closed and may result in premature opening and miscarriage, or premature birth.
  • Blood clots are one of the causes of death to mothers who deliver babies normally. They are also a cause of death in healthy young women who have abortions performed. Embolism (floating objects in the blood that go to the lungs) is another problem. Childbirth is a normal process, and the body is well prepared for the birth of a child and the separation and expulsion of the placenta. Surgical abortion is an abnormal process, and slices the unripe placenta from the wall of the uterus into which its roots have grown. This sometimes causes the fluid around the baby, or other pieces of tissue or blood clots, to be forced into the mother’s circulation. These then travel to her lungs causing damage and occasional death. This is also a major cause of maternal death from the salt poisoning method of abortion. Also, amniotic fluid embolism has “emerged as an important cause of death from legally induced abortion”. Of 15 cases, the risk seems to be greater after 3 months. Treatment is ineffective and has an 80% mortality rate.



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