Abortion trauma is real, therapist writes, and women “deserve better than to suffer years of silent regret and shame”

By Dave Andrusko

Adam Fadel is a licensed clinical therapist and, after many years of practice, he’s concluded what we know to be true: abortion trauma is real. The founder of the Charlotte clinic “The Corner: Institute for Transformation” explained what he had learned about the trauma that so often goes undiagnosed in a column written for The Fayetteville Observer.

He writes,As state lawmakers consider the issue of abortion, they need to keep people like Sarah [a pseudonym] in mind — women who aren’t shouting their abortion, but instead are silently grieving.”

In one powerful paragraph Fadel explains

But traumas associated with abortion aren’t ended by the procedure. In fact, many of them begin there. A study conducted by Support After Abortion found that 34% of women suffer “adverse impacts” like anger, shame and regret from medication abortions. Most of these women said they had nobody to talk to afterwards, and had no idea where to go to understand and address their complicated grief. [Underlining added.]

This study results contrast sharply with the endless cited “Turnaway Study.” Fadel explains, “The Turnaway Study is regularly cited by major media outlets as a rebuttal against the idea that abortion harms mothers who terminate their pregnancies.” 

According to the study, women who were able to have an abortion were compared to women who were turned away — thus the name. It “found that just 5% of women regret their abortions.” 

Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s Director of Education & Research, has demolished the study in multiple stories written for NRL News Today. As he pointed out in the conclusion to his five-part critique of the “Turnaway” study, 

“Within a week after their ‘denial,’ even before the baby was actually born, 35% of those women were no longer willing to say that having the abortion would have been the right decision. After the birth, we know that 86% were living with the baby; 59% perceived their relationships as good or very good; and nearly half (48%) had full-time jobs.”

But even if we grant, for purposes of argument, that only 5% of women regret their abortions, it’s “a huge number,” Fadel writes. “Guttmacher estimates that 23.7% of women have abortions, which using the Turnaway Study’s numbers means that nearly two million women regret their abortion. Leaving these women to suffer in silence is a disservice to them, their families, and their communities.”

Sarah “was also hesitant to approach me because like most women who want to seek healing after abortion, she preferred anonymity out of fear of rejection and judgment.” Fadel concludes

Sarah deserved better than to suffer years of silent regret and shame. I was grateful to be able to help her learn how to address the traumas she had endured, and to heal. As abortion continues to be debated across the state, therapists, lawmakers, abortion advocates, and abortion opponents must put aside differences and make people like Sarah a priority.