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HomeMental Health Considerations in Abortion Care

Mental Health Considerations in Abortion Care

7 May, 2024 | Abortion, Advice, Blog, Counselling


Considering an abortion is a deeply personal matter. It is a healthcare decision made in the context of one’s values, beliefs and priorities. Many psychosocial factors influence this decision such as relationships, carer responsibilities, financial circumstances, education, employment, housing, visa status, and access to reproductive health services. Mental health is a primary reason why people consider an abortion. Regardless of your final decision, it is vital to seek support and practise self care during this time.


Good mental health includes general wellbeing. It is about the connection of mind, body, spirit, country and community. It is reflected in a person being able to maintain a quality of life, in which they can thrive. Understanding the potential impacts of pregnancy, abortion and contraception on your wellbeing, can help you navigate this challenging time.

Understanding your emotional response

The decision to have an abortion can raise feelings such as :

  • Sadness: It’s common to feel sad about the loss of a pregnancy and what it represents to you.
  • Helplessness: You may feel overwhelmed by the pressure to make a timely decision, or because people close to you disagree with abortion.
  • Anxiety: You might worry about the procedure itself, the cost, losing a relationship, or being pregnant again.
  • Relief: Many women feel relieved after making a decision, whether it be to continue with a pregnancy or have an abortion. Feeling as if you have some control can be a huge relief.
  • Guilt: Societal pressures or personal beliefs can lead to feelings of guilt, even when the decision feels right for you.

Some emotions may be due to hormonal changes. All emotions are valid and it is important to acknowledge, they change over time. They are also survivable!

Staying well

If you have a pre-existing mental health condition, or are neurodivergent, or experiencing non recent or recent trauma (such as coercion and abuse), a pregnancy with all the bodily changes and emotions it brings, can leave you vulnerable.

Our usual coping style may feel ineffective as we try to find a way through a medical system – while potentially experiencing stigma, conscientious objection, increased threats to personal safety (often experienced in relationships in which there is domestic and family violence), or perhaps poor sleeping and eating, nausea. For some people, severe stress can lead to problems maintaining perspective.

Here are a few coping suggestions:

  • Prioritise activities that promote your physical and emotional wellbeing, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Easy to say and harder to do! Start with small, achievable goals and persist.
  • Techniques like mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises can help manage stress and anxiety. These exercises can be part of your usual routines and need only take 10 mins out of your day.
  • Drawing or writing from a strengths based perspective is useful to remind yourself of how well you’re doing. It also serves to challenge your thinking which may be self punishing, or rigid. Ask yourself questions like What was I most proud of today? How did I show kindness to someone else today?

Consult a pro-choice healthcare professional

Here’s why:

  • Impact of abortion on mental health and wellbeing: While an abortion procedure generally doesn’t cause long-term mental health problems, the experience and any associated distress may intensify existing conditions.
  • Impact of mental ill-health on abortion experience: Pre-existing mental health difficulties can influence how you experience the procedure itself and what you think about your decision.

A healthcare professional should listen non-judgmentally, conduct screening around any risk issues, consider relevant history, review medication, and provide you specialist referrals if required. Book ahead, and if possible ask for a longer appointment.

Consider support groups

Connecting with others who have had similar experiences helps you learn you are not alone, and that what you’re feeling is ok. Other people’s stories serve to provide us with context. Group members also share ways that have worked for them, to manage and grow through difficult times.

Talking openly about your feelings and concerns with just one person you trust, can be a great source of comfort. This could be a partner, close friend or work colleague. It can help change a self critical, or self blaming narrative that may otherwise keep you stuck.

You’re not alone

MSI Australia can connect you with additional resources and support services if needed. We also offer counselling services. Considering an abortion is a personal decision, and it’s important to do what feels right for you. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, and seeking emotional support is a sign of strength, not weakness.