Among the challenges which divide civilizations in the 21st century, that of abortion is clearly one of the most bothersome. Almost on daily instances, societies are bombarded with torrents of arguments about the admissibility or rejection of abortion from both sides of the divide.
Crowds demonstrate and politicians lay bare their facts in popular discussion forums, but the debate has refused to fade away, in part, due to the fact that the practice of abortion affects all ethnic, racial and social economic groups (Franz & Reardon, 1992). Among other things, the present paper intends to explicitly discuss the negative effects of abortion on teenagers and some of the perspectives that anti-abortion women projects in the strongly contested debate.
Abortion, which can be described as the untimely annihilation of the life of an unborn child, is as old as mankind. It is a well known fact that a significant percentage of unwanted and untimely pregnancies occur among teenagers aged between 10 and 19 years.
In the United States, for example, about a fifth of all abortions taking place in recent years are unfortunately performed on adolescents (Sobie & Reardon, 2001). Many of these teenagers, however, decide to undergo the abortion procedure for lack of any other acceptable solution to an already excruciating situation.
Some liberalists have been at the forefront in advocating for women to be accorded exclusive rights to abort by basing their facts on the premise that abortion is a largely private matter (Warren & Harvey, 2010), but their arguments have not won the hearts of many individuals who are of the opinion that abortion is not only morally, legally and spiritually wrong, but it impedes on some of the basic rights of the unborn such as the right to life and the freedom of expression. In this respect, securing an abortion is the wrong way to go for teenagers who, knowingly or unknowingly, get pregnant.
Teenagers are in most occasions prevailed upon by their parents, boyfriends and peers to secure abortion to avoid the social, financial and ethical ramifications that comes with bearing a child out of wedlock. Such consequences may include but not limited to: dropping out of school, stigmatization, inability to take care of the child, cultural and public policy attitudes, fear of friendship loss, and possible loss of career and future (Franz & Reardon, 1992; Sobie & Reardon, 2001).
However, the very idea of forcing adolescent girls to secure abortions so as to avoid the above mentioned consequences is inherently wrong and morally questionable. Indeed, Franz & Reardon (1992) postulates that “…adolescents are still developmentally immature in various respects, and this immaturity affects sexual decision making” (p. 163).
Another important fact that is closely related to the above is that most teenagers are faced with a multiplicity of limitations in their ability to make plausible healthcare decisions. Such limitations, according to Franz & Reardon (1992), include a real incapability to predict potential outcomes, inability to recognize possible risks of abortion, and the inability to make coherent and articulate decisions regarding abortion.
It should also not be forgotten that adolescence is a highly unstable phase of life and, as such, the very essence of securing an abortion against a backdrop of the above mentioned factors will certainly lead to more social, emotional and health problems for the adolescents. In consequence, adolescents should only be guided to secure abortions if and only if the health of the mother is at utmost risk. Any other explanation as to why adolescents should be allowed to secure abortions is, in my view, fallacious.
Adolescents are a predominantly significant population to reflect on with respect to the possible negative effects of abortion. As proposed by Sobie & Reardon (2001) and Franz & Reardon (1992), teenage abortion has been positively associated with a broad spectrum of physical, emotional and psychological challenges, including guilt conscience, suicide attempts, emotional stress, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation, anxiety, failure or malfunction of the executive ego function and other self-destructive behaviours.
Of importance to this discussion is the fact that compared to women who secure abortions at an older age, women who undergo abortions in their teen years are notably more likely to experience severe emotional imbalances that are directly linked to their abortions (Sobie & Reardon, 2001; Elliot Institute, 1991).
Sobie & Reardon (2001) also postulates that compared to women who secure abortions at an older age, adolescents are more likely to undergo abortions due to pressure from parents, boyfriends and their peers, putting them at an elevated risk of undesirable psychological effects.
The situation is not helped by the fact that adolescents suffer from decision-making problems, massive denial, depression, low self-esteem and incapability to project their own feelings and perceptions into the future (Franz & Reardon, 1992; Warren & Harvey, 2010). In consequence, teen abortion can only be related to uncomfortable feelings of regret, guilt, hopelessness, anxiety, and an elongated sense of despair.
At a social level, studies have demonstrated that “…teenage aborters [are] more likely to report severe nightmares following abortion and to score higher on scales measuring antisocial traits, paranoia, drug abuse and psychotic delusions than older aborters” (Sobie & Reardon, 2001, p. 1).
Such undesirable outcomes, in my view, have the capacity to ruin not only the future social life of teenagers, but also their careers and social standing in society. It is interesting to note that a significant number of adolescents who undergo abortions are unable to retain a healthy psychological and social adaptive process after the procedures, and many persist to recreate their ordeal and distress through a cycle of replicate pregnancies and abortions.
One study cited by Sobie & Reardon (2001) revealed that on average, three-fifths of adolescents who had procured an abortion became pregnant again within 15 months. Such a trend impairs the teenagers’ individual, social and professional development, not mentioning that it renders them irrelevant to society.
Abortions have many adverse effects when evaluated from a health perspective. Intense blood loss during the procedure, for instance, can occasion diversion of blood flow to vital body organs, resulting in shock or death of the mother. Abortions also occasion the dilation of canal of the cervix, exposing delicate organs such as the uterus and the fallopian tubes to bacterial infection. The tools used for abortion can perforate the uterus, in the process causing injury, bacterial invasion, and extensive bleeding (Franz & Reardon, 1992).
According to the authors, there exists a wide body of literature to demonstrate that adolescents who have abortions in their first pregnancies not only increase their chances of getting breast cancer by 50 percent, but they become vulnerable to future pregnancy failure by 45 percent. These statistics paint a grim picture for adolescents who go ahead to procure abortions.
Still, other studies have found a positive correlation between teen abortions and premature births, personality changes, tubal pregnancy, unregulated monthly flow, sterility, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, difficulty grieving, and enhanced tendency toward violence, among other negative outcomes (Elliot Institute, 1991).
Anti-abortionists have projected a number of arguments to counter the liberalists’ offensive regarding the broad topic of abortion. Women anti-abortionists, in particular, have been most vocal in criticizing the argument on the premise that life is God-given and therefore all people must respect the sanctity of life.
Other women argue that securing abortions for adolescents is not part of the solution; rather it is part of the problem that society must deal with through advocating ethical and moral principles as well as ensuring that teenagers have the right kind of information to enable them make informed choices on their health and wellbeing (Stone & Waszak, 1992).
Still, other women argue from the standpoint that it is not only morally unacceptable for parents to secure abortions for their teenage daughters merely because they want to evade the embarrassment and deficiencies related to premarital births, but it is also emotionally and spiritually unjustifiable from a humanistic perspective.
To conclude, it is worth noting that abortion injures women in critical ways since it is not merely a procedure of evacuating what is inside the uterus, but the untimely ending of human life in gory circumstances. The psychological, social, physical and emotional challenges presented by abortions have been discussed at length in this paper.
Adolescents, therefore, need to be provided with a platform where they can access the right kind of information regarding abortion to avoid the confusion about the options they have in the event they get an unintended pregnancy (Stone & Waszak, 1992). This way, the social fabric will be safeguarded, and our girls will have a brighter future.
Elliot Institute. (1991). The after-effects of Abortion: Understanding the risks. Web.
Franz, W., & Reardon, D. (1992). Differential impact of abortion on adolescents and adults. Adolescence, 27(105), 161-172. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.
Sobie, A.R., & Reardon, D.C. (2001). The detrimental effects of adolescent abortion. The Post-Abortion Review, 9(1). Retrieved from <http://www.stmarthaaff.com/media/abort_adolescent_effects.pdf>
Stone, R., & Waszak, C. (1992). Adolescent knowledge and attitudes about abortion. Family Planning Perspectives, 24(2), 52-57. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.
Warren, J.T., & Harvey, S.M. (2010). Do depression and low self-esteem follow abortion among adolescents? Evidence from a national study. Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, 42(4), 230-235. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier Database.