Are Later Children Affected by Abortion?

Are Later ChildrenAffected by Abortion?

Martha Shuping, M.D.

Can an abortion affect one’s parenting skills?

Obviously, if women and men are having emotional problems because of their past abortions, this is going to have an impact on their families. For example, women who have had an abortion are more likely to report subsequent substance abuse. Clearly, alcoholism and drug abuse have a negative impact on families.

Women who have had abortions are also more likely to become depressed for long periods of time. This, like other prolonged reactions to abortion, can affect children’s emotional development, which is modeled on their parents’.

A past abortion can also have a direct impact on one’s parenting “style.” For example, in one study of women who had post-abortion problems, nearly half reported that they feared they would be “punished” for their abortions by some harm coming to their other children.

In many cases, these women choke back their love and are afraid to bond with their children. They fear that if they love their children “too much,” they’ll be punished by losing them.

Conversely, nearly half of the women in this study reported a “compulsion to be a perfect mother.” These tendencies have led many women to report that they have become overly protective and “smothering” of their subsequent children. They too may be motivated by a fear of harm coming to their children, so they are deathly afraid of letting them out of their sight.

Unfortunately, some parents with unresolved grief want their born children to serve as “replacements” for the one who was aborted. This can result in the born children constantly being judged against the unattainable standard of “what might have been.”

But aren’t these problems offset by the fact that abortion has reduced child abuse by reducing the number of unwanted children?

This “fact” isn’t a fact at all. Indeed, after decades of study, researchers haven’t found a single shred of evidence to support the conclusion that abortion reduces the risk of child abuse. Instead, numerous studies have shown the opposite: a history of abortion is statistically associated with higher rates of child abuse.(1)

These findings are supported by clinical experience. A substantial number of women and men seeking post-abortion therapy have described a link between their unresolved post-abortion feelings and patterns of emotional or physical abuse of their subsequent children. larger image One woman described feelings of intense rage whenever her newborn baby cried: “I did not understand why her crying would make me so angry. She was the most beautiful baby, and had such a placid personality. What I didn’t realize then was that I hated my daughter for being able to do all these things that my lost [aborted] baby would never be able to do.”(2)

Are you saying abortion can cause child abuse?

Yes. The reasons for child abuse are complex, and can’t be fully dealt with here. But let me make a couple of quick points.

Difficulty bonding with subsequent children because of fear, shame, or guilt is commonly reported by post-abortion parents. Lack of adequate bonding is also one of the most significant risk factors for child abuse. When inadequate bonding is combined with feelings of anger and rage, which are common aftereffects of abortion, a dangerous mix can result.

In some rare instances, abortion can also lead to complete emotional breakdown with tragic results. Renee Nicely of New Jersey experienced a “psychotic episode” the day after her abortion which resulted in the beating death of her three-year-old son, Shawn. She told the court psychiatrist that she “knew that abortion was wrong” and that she “should be punished for the abortion.” Unfortunately, Shawn became the victim of her pain and guilt.(3)

Sadly, in years to come it may be shown that post-abortion trauma was a major cause of the dramatic rise in child abuse cases in the last two decades.

Can abortion have an impact on siblings who were already born?

Yes. Some children experience “survivor guilt” over the abortion of a sibling. They feel guilty that they were the ones “chosen” by their parents to live. Some may even feel that they are responsible for the abortion of their sibling; if they had not been “so much trouble,” perhaps their parents would not have felt it necessary to abort “another burdensome child.”

One expert in the treatment of child abuse, Dr. Philip Ney, has noted that children who know they were “wanted” may not feel they were simply “welcomed” for who they are. This subtle shift, from being unconditionally “welcomed” into a family toward being “wanted” to satisfy their parents’ expectations, may have a lasting impact on the child’s self-perception.

Dr. Martha Shuping, M.D., is a psychiatrist with over ten years of experience in helping women with post-abortion issues.

Notes:1. Ney, P., Fung, T., Wickett, A.R., “Relationship Between Induced Abortion and Child Abuse and Neglect: Four Studies,” Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal 8(1):43-63 Fall 1993; Benedict, M., White, R., and Cornely, P., “Maternal Perinatal Risk Factors and Child Abuse” Child Abuse and Neglect 9:217-224 (1985); Lewis, E., “Two Hidden Predisposing Factors in Child Abuse,” Child Abuse and Neglect 3:327-330 (1979); Ney, P., “Relationship Between Abortion and Child Abuse,” Canadian J. Psychiatry 24:610-620(1979).

2. See Reardon, Aborted Women, op cit., 130.

3. See Reardon, Aborted Women, op cit., 129-130.


Are Later Children Affected by Abortion? — 17 Comments

  1. Hi, I was wondering what would the effect be on a mother who has a abortion on twins, on her already born infant child?

  2. What is the word for the child born after the mother has had an abortion? I have heard the terms replacement child or atonement child, but I remember hearing another term that more accurately described my first grandchild’s birth. My son did not know his wife had had an abortion until after they were married. She was desperate to get pregnant as if another pregnancy would make up for the abortion.

    • I don’t know the term you might be forgetting. Replacement pregnancy and atonement child and similar terms are useful, but there is no precise, much less “official,” term of definition of this increased desire to have a baby after an abortion or miscarriage.

  3. I am wondering about physical defects in a second child after aborting one. I know only 2 gals who had abortions and with both of them, the next child had defects – one – a little girl had only half a skull when she was born and died within a few hours. The other – my Grandson, was born with a rare disorder – Pseudo Intestinal Obstruction – a disorder of the nerves of the intestines and lung problems. Both were full term. Have other women had children with these types of problems after having an abortion? It seems to ironic to just be a coincidence.

    • There are literally scores of studies showing abortion is associated with pre-term and low birth weight deliveries which can cause health problems for the infant. Another group of studies has shown abortion to be associated with higher rates of fetal malformation, though the underlying explanation may be similar.

      The bottom line is that there has not been adequate research to investigate how abortion history may impact subsequent fetal development in general, much less in the specific cases you describe. It is quite feasible, for example, that abortion can contribute to one kind of fetal malformation but not another. Identifying which ones are related to past abortion history is not easy.

      So I really can’t say that I’ve seen any evidence that the specific disorders you describe may have been caused or aggravated by a past abortion. On the other hand, there is evidence that women and men may “blame themselves” for defects in their children because of their past abortions, often coming to believe that God is “punishing” them for their abortions. My only advise is to be forward looking, focusing on the present needs of the children and working to develop as loving of a relationship as possible.

  4. I knew long time ago that my mother had two abortions when she was 20 yrs old and about to get married on that same year. My father just wasn’t ready to be a daddy until I was born 6 years later. Now, I’m 29 of age, I’ve met a Chinese Master who checks birth chart yearly forecast, he told me that two siblings that has been aborted by my mother gave me bad luck and haunts me until I have to get rid of them is to change my faith from Christianity to Buddhist. I cannot do that! My faith is Jesus Christ is so great because I saw Jesus Christ myself, three shepherd angels watched me sleep before getting up to school, I saw the star moved…I felt save and seen many miracles of God’s great power. I cannot change my religion. I always wanted siblings. I’m an only child and I’m still lacking of something but I just don’t know what to think or do at this moment in time. I don’t know where to start to ask God or just say “hello, I’m lost, please help”.

    • You might consider participating in a post-abortion counseling program. You might also invite your mother and father to do so. Even if you do so alone, you will be able to go through the process of your own healing for losing siblings and will have an opportunity to name them and entrust them to Christ’s mercy. That ceremony may help to “cement” in your mind and heart both the reality of their lives and that they now live in Christ.

      Clearly, abandoning your faith is not a condition to being saved from “bad luck” and the “haunting” of your aborted siblings. On the other hand, there could be a spiritual and psychological weight on you and your family that can be lifted with appropriate counseling and prayer which address this loss.

      • Dear Maria remember in Acts 9 when the apostle Paul had his conversion. He was a man who killed Christians and did everything to try to destroy them. But the Lord Jesus changed him. Paul even said that God had mercy on him for his ignorance in unbelief. Never forget that Christ died for us all. There is only one true faith and God stands firm in the faith.

    • Maria,

      Please don’t abandon your faith. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:16) The person who told you that your aborted siblings haunt you clearly has no understanding of spiritual things. Your aborted siblings are in Heaven with God. He would not permit their spirits to come out of Heaven and haunt anyone. That is an unbiblical concept.

      Also, children are not punished by God for the sins of their parents, however, sometimes we are affected by the consequences of their sin. Jesus has come to give you life. Please rest in that promise.

      Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

    • Abortion can impact later children, both physically and psychologically, but we do not know of any evidence that it would contribute to a risk of Down Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder.

      Most of the risk stems from either increased risk of reproductive problems resulting in premature delivery or some other complication of delivery or from a household environment where the mother is struggling from unresolved grief, guilt, substance use, bonding issues, or other psychological problems stemming from or aggravated by the abortion.

      Check out the above links to learn more about how abortion can affect later children, and even children born prior to the abortion.

        • I pray for you and your son, dear Rita.

          Please do the same for me and my living children. My youngest was born after I aborted his two siblings. They would now be 28 and 26 years old.

          I also struggle, also. I feel that I cannot forgive myself. God forgives. His mercy is infinite. I just wish I had my little babies back. I wish I could have know them.

          God bless, dear Rita. Nick is a great blessing — as you are to him. So glad you and he have each other to love, dear.

        • I pray for you and your son, dear Rita.

          Please do the same for me and my living children. My youngest was born after I aborted his two siblings. They would now be 28 and 26 years old.

          I also struggle, also. I feel that I cannot forgive myself. God forgives. His mercy is infinite. I just wish I had my little babies back. I wish I could have known them.

          God bless, dear Rita. Nick is a great blessing — as you are to him. So glad you and he have each other to love, dear.

        • Rita,
          God says that when you ask Him He forgives you. He offers peace, unconditional love, forgiveness, and the path to healing through Jesus. Ask Him! He loves you so very much dear woman, and there is nothing you can ever do to change that. Praying for your heart, your husbands, and your son. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. He is there. He loves you.

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