Historical and contemporary literature on post-abortion issues draws attention to the
complexity of women’s experiences in this regard. The literature observes a vast range of
potential effects of abortion on the mental health of women. This study contributes to the
current understanding of post-abortion issues, by exploring women’s subjective experiences
of post-abortion distress and the impact on interpersonal relationships. The relational impact
is further situated in the context of its importance to psychological well-being.
Four women, between the ages of 23 and 45, described their lived experiences of
post-abortion distress during semi-structured interviews. Each participant gave detailed
accounts of the abortion event, the difficulties experienced afterwards and the perceived
impact that this kind of distress had on their lives and specifically, their relationships with
others. The data was subsequently analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis
Twelve main themes emerged from the transcripts, each of which is discussed
separately as well as in relation to other pertinent literature. The critical examination of the
findings presented in this study revealed divergent aspects to those found in some of the
existing literature, as well as understandings comparable with previous research.
The meanings that emerged from these women’s stories revealed intense cognitive,
emotional and behavioural dilemmas, all of which highlight the subjective experience of
post-abortion distress as a complicated and deeply personal issue, with profound effects on
their relational worlds.