An abortion decision can be complicated. There are usually many factors considered when a woman becomes unexpectedly pregnant, like finances, support she may or may not have, education, and relationships. A study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute found that nearly half of women who experienced abortion stated relationship issues as a factor in their decisions.

Many people facing an unintended pregnancy feel they are in an even more complicated situation when their partner doesn’t feel the same way they do about the pregnancy. Maybe she wants to keep the baby and her partner doesn’t or vice versa. Some people choose abortion or go along with it as a way to alleviate relationship challenges or save their relationship with their partner. 

But does it work? Does having an abortion – one they may not even want – save their relationship with their partner? 

STATS ON WOMEN & ABORTION WITHIN A CURRENT RELATIONSHIP 

The impact of abortion on a relationship is multifaceted and varies from couple to couple. Looking at statistics alone, abortion is unlikely to save a relationship. In fact, it may make that relationship more unstable and put the partners at greater risk of negative outcomes. 

One study published in 2009 showed that for women who experience abortion in a current relationship, there is a: 

  • 75% increased risk of arguments associated with money,
  • 80% increased risk of conflict about the partner’s relatives,
  • 122-182% increased risk of sexual dysfunction.

In the same study, men who experienced abortion through a current partner’s termination of pregnancy reported a 96% greater risk of jealousy and a 385% increased risk of arguments about drugs.

Those aren’t small numbers, and they affect real people in very real ways. Abortion can affect both partners and even both partners’ families. If the result of abortion leads to greater conflicts and arguments, the likelihood of that relationship’s survival diminishes. 

HEARING FROM WOMEN WHO HAD ABORTIONS TO SAVE THEIR RELATIONSHIP

Numbers are one thing, but hearing from women who have chosen abortion in part to save their relationship shines a light on the complexities and nuances involved in such decisions

These are quotes directly from women who have turned to Support After Abortion for help: 

– I need someone to talk to. My boyfriend told me if I keep the baby, he won’t be with me or be a part of its life. So, I had the abortion. And then he broke up with me anyway. I’m so depressed.

– I had an abortion I didn’t want two months ago. I was in what I thought was a happy, healthy relationship with the dad. He said he’d had a vasectomy, then I found out I was pregnant. He immediately pushed me to get an abortion saying he just wants things back to normal. I knew it would be hard on me especially since I didn’t want to do it. But, I gave in and did it after he promised to be my support through the grief, then he left anyway. And I’m left to deal with it on my own. 

– At first my boyfriend told me he wanted me to have a baby. But then he said he didn’t. I loved him so much he could talk me into anything. I had the abortion, and then he left. It’s really a terrible thing that’s happened to me. I thought it would solve all my problems, but it just made it worse.

– I have been struggling with grief and insecurities since my abortion. My boyfriend and I both agreed to the abortion, and it was difficult for both of us. He’s been extremely supportive, but I just feel like I’m burdening him when I get sad, and I’m becoming more withdrawn from our relationship. I feel like my one support system doesn’t understand the pain I’m going through. Emotionally, I feel like I’ve been really needy and it’s taking a toll on our relationship.

MEN ARE HURTING, TOO

Men are also hurting after abortion and feel like the relationship with their partner has been damaged because of an abortion decision. Here are what some men have told Support After Abortion: 

– I’m having trouble dealing with this. My girlfriend said she wanted to be a mom, and I was excited about having kids and a family. But after she got pregnant, she decided to have an abortion. She laughed at and mocked me for crying and struggling with her decision. She said she still wants a family with me, but now is not the right time. Basically she’s saying if we stay together, this will never happen again and eventually we will have kids. But she promised this time she wouldn’t hurt the baby and she had an abortion. I’m so hurt and feel like I can’t trust her. I don’t know how to move past this.

– This is the second time my girlfriend’s had an abortion. When she told me she was pregnant the first time and chose abortion, it was really hard on me. Now it’s happened again and I’m all alone. I have no one to talk to. I’m having feelings of self-blame, fear, guilt, and failure. I don’t know what to do or how to cope. 

My partner and I split up due to abortions. We didn’t communicate well at the time. I panicked due to our age and money situation. She thought I didn’t want kids, which wasn’t true. I have massive regret and feel like our connection would have stayed solid if we didn’t have the abortions, and we would be happy together with our baby. I just can’t get that out of my head. I feel so traumatized from it and don’t know how to deal with it anymore.

RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGES AFTER ABORTION

Differing Perspectives

When partners haven’t mutually agreed on the decision to terminate a pregnancy, their relationship can become strained. The misalignment in values, emotions, and expectations can breed resentment, guilt, and unresolved feelings, leading to emotional distance and communication breakdown. One partner may have lingering feelings of regret and sorrow while the other may feel guilt. Both may feel anger and resentment. This can create a rift that is challenging to bridge, and can erode trust and intimacy.

Coping Mechanisms 

Partners may struggle to understand or support each other leading up to and after an abortion. And differences in coping styles can create emotional distance and put strain on the relationship. Even healthy coping mechanisms can impact relationship dynamics. For example, if one partner prefers to process their feelings alone and the other wants support from their partner, family, friends, and/or a professional; or perhaps one partner copes with tension through exercise or sports, and the other wants rest and relaxation. And unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as avoidance, denial, escapism through excessive work or activities, blame, and substance misuse, can add stress to already strained relationships. 

Unresolved Emotions

Abortion can be emotionally challenging for both partners, and the process of grieving and healing may differ significantly between them. Unresolved emotions, such as guilt, grief, anger, and sadness can show up in unexpected ways, and can lead to increased tension within the relationship. This can be especially true if there is anger, bitterness, or resentment stemming from different opinions about the abortion decision or words spoken and actions related to the abortion. Yet suppressing emotions can lead to long-term relationship problems. Recognizing and validating each other’s emotions can foster healing and help couples navigate together the complexities of emotions after abortion.

Communication Breakdown

Individuals may struggle both before and after an abortion to articulate their feelings or fears, leading to a breakdown in communication. They may also feel unheard, disrespected, judged, or unsupported by their partner, reducing trust, and negatively affecting the desire or ability to communicate honestly. These challenges can result in misunderstandings, resentment, and a sense of isolation within the relationship, which is an obstacle to healing. Recognizing and addressing these issues and emotions individually and together is crucial for effective communication and support. 

EMOTIONAL HEALING AFTER ABORTION

Whether the decision to have an abortion is an individual or shared one, its implications on a relationship are intricate and multifaceted. The complexities of relationships extend far beyond a single decision, and expecting abortion to salvage a faltering relationship is an oversimplification of the challenges that couples face. By working on the underlying root issues, couples have a better chance of building relationships that can handle challenges and last a long time.

The process of healing and understanding each other’s perspectives is crucial. A successful relationship requires open communication, empathy, and mutual support, and addressing the emotional complexities surrounding abortion is an essential step toward building a resilient and understanding partnership. Ultimately, the outcome of a relationship following an abortion is influenced by the couple’s ability to navigate these challenges together and find a path toward healing and reconciliation.

SEEKING SUPPORT

Whether a relationship is maintained or not following abortion experiences, often it is helpful for one or both of the partners to seek out some kind of healing resource to guide them through the process.

Our research shows that 82% of women and men who experienced abortion want help to heal but don’t know where to go.

Our Keys to Hope and Healing resource is an excellent place to start. An introductory abortion healing program, it is available for women and men, in English and Spanish, religious and secular versions. Resources include booklets, journals, self-guided videos, as well as a guide and training videos for facilitators. It can be done independently, with a mentor or licensed counselor or therapist, or in a facilitated support group.

Another resource that can help you explore emotions and behaviors is Unraveled Roots: Exposing the Hidden Causes of Damaging Behaviors, which helps individuals identify the root causes behind damaging choices and patterns to change their life and legacy by establishing new, healthier patterns one small step at a time. Resources include book, journal, self-guided video series, as well as a guide and training videos for facilitators. A men’s version is coming soon.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ABORTION?

If your relationship was impacted by abortion, you don’t need to suffer alone. We can help. Reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, phone, text, email or messaging on Facebook or Instagram. We offer free, confidential, compassionate support. We can connect you to the healing resource that best meets your preferences – that may be one-on-one, group, or independent; counseling or peer facilitator; virtual, in person, or self-guided; religious or secular; weekend, weekly, or self-paced, etc. Check out our website for information, videos, self-guided healing, and more for women and men.

DO YOU – OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO – PROVIDE AFTER-ABORTION SUPPORT?

Explore our Provider Training Center and attend our free monthly Abortion Healing Provider webinars, Men’s Healing Matters webinars, and Quarterly Facilitator Trainings.

© Support After Abortion