A paper released in May by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada analyzes the impact of abortion on family and the community. Interconnected: How abortion impacts mothers, families and our society by Andrea Mrozek examines the effects of abortion on marriage, sexuality, mental health, and society. It reports on previous research and relates it to the story of a pro-abortion woman named Lee (drawn from the book, Giving Sorrow Words) who faced negative emotional consequences after her abortion.

Lee, who is still pro-abortion, had the procedure at seven weeks gestation. She was already in a stable relationship and had two daughters. In the aftermath, she reported having deep feelings of grief: “I cried for six weeks. I only got out of bed to go to work (at night) … nearly seven months later, my heart was still broken … what made it worse was that I had trouble finding anything to read that described what I was going through.” She decided that the only way she could preserve her relationship with her partner was by having another baby. In the end, she gave birth to another child, describing the event as “a new hope, a second chance, and a beautiful baby.”

A 2003 study, “Abortion and family formation: circumstance or culture?” found that 25.1 per cent of women over 35 years old who had had abortions are divorced or separated, as opposed to 19 per cent of women without abortions. When women with a history of abortion reach their late 30s, 37 per cent are in their first marriage, in contrast to 56 per cent of women without any abortions. As stated by Dr. Priscilla Coleman, if the abortion is thought to be “a traumatic event” by one or both partners, it will probably become “a defining crisis in the relationship’s history, creating the possibility for increased intimacy and mutuality or relational decline resulting from attachment injury.”

The paper reports on various studies that show that anywhere from 24 to 33.7 per cent of women with a history of abortion reported sexual problems afterward. “Abortion and the sexual lives of men and women,” published in 2008, discovered that some couples were reluctant to engage in sexual activity because they saw sexual enjoyment as “the origin of ‘their need to destroy a new life,’” while feeling “less attractive after abortion.” The same study also showed that men and women who have had an abortion experience have more positive attitudes towards sexual relationships with strangers and are likelier to have more sex partners. Women with abortions also view rape in a more positive light.

Moreover, a meta-analysis by Coleman published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women with abortions have an 81 per cent higher chance of getting mental health disorders.

The paper analyzes the effect of abortion and contraception on family life in society. Individuals believe they are in control of fertility and having sex is no longer related to childbirth and thus “not associated with being irresponsible” if the woman does not want to get pregnant. Because it is the woman’s sole decision to abort according to the state, some fathers feel it is permissible to abandon her if she decides to keep the child. The state then engages in “hypocrisy” by forcing the men to pay child support for a decision only the woman had the right to make. This means that men become more unwilling to be involved in family life.

“It is not helpful to overstate negative ramifications of abortion,” Mrozek says in the IMFC paper. “However, by far the bigger concern Canadians face today is the problem of pretending there are none.”