Rebuttal to Study Claiming Women Don’t Regret Abortion

The reality is that a large majority of women suffer post-abortive regret in silence. However, many women have found healing and hope from the trauma of abortion through post abortion healing services. 

Woman Crying
The Pain and Regret of Abortion

The following article was authored by Katherine Ranck for Human Defense Initiative.  

A recent study out of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) claims most women do not regret their abortions. The study is a part of UCSF’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) research department. Abortion advocates are touting this as proof abortion regulations are unnecessary and harmful to women. However, this ignores the many problems with this study and the incorrect premises it is founded upon. While the study claims to have “no competing interest,” the entire aim of ANSIRH is abortion advocacy. This means that at its core, ANSIRH is biased towards abortion and can make no claim of being free of bias or competing interest. It is dishonest of them to claim so and creates serious questions as to the accuracy of the study and its outcomes from the outset.

Secondly, there are several problems with the way the study was conducted and subsequently reported on. The study boasts 95% of the women who participated in the study did not regret their abortions five years later. However, the sample size of this study can hardly begin to provide an adequate view of the majority of women who undergo an abortion.

According to the study itself, 62.5% of women approached for this study refused to participate, which means that out of the 2,549 women approached, only 956 women agreed to participate. Moreover, 30% of women who agreed to participate dropped out by the end of the study and 15% dropped out before the study even began. This left the researchers with 667 women by the end of the study. This number is only 26% of the original research pool.

According to CDC reports from 2008, 2009, and 2010, the time period in which ANSIRH was collecting data, 2,375,722 abortions were performed. Based on this number, the sample size of this study covers only 0.03% of all abortions. That number is minuscule. Using an easily available survey sample size calculator from CheckMarket, we are able to see that the optimal sample size for a population of 2,375,722 (abortions obtained in 2008-2010), should be 2,399. ANSIRH’s sample size was 28% of what it should have been for a successful study. This alone should disqualify ANSIRH’s study from being used as any serious evidence that women who get abortions do not later regret them.

Another factor this study fails to consider is that women who agreed to participate in the study were more likely to be those who had positive emotions regarding their abortions. We cannot say for certain why 62.5% of those approached for this study refused to participate, but if the reason for their non-participation was that they did have negative emotions associated with abortion, it is at least possible that more women actually regretted their abortions than not. We do not know and this study cannot tell us because no data was collected as to why these women refused to participate. The study itself even admits it “has limitations” and that “probing participants about their abortions twice annually over five years may have led to higher levels of feelings of emotions than they otherwise would have felt.” With the known bias ANSIRH has towards abortion, there is a potential for biased or leading questions as well as a potential for those looking for validation for their choice to receive it.

However, despite the way the study has been reported on, the highest percentage shown by the end of the study were not positive emotions, but were women reporting None or Few emotions. This does not indicate a healthy emotional state. The state of feeling no emotions regarding a stressful or anxiety inducing event (such as an unexpected/crisis pregnancy and/or an abortion) is called detachment. The state of emotional detachment or “numbing” is the result of a variety of disorders including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It can also be the result of trauma and abuse. Many people often intentionally choose to emotionally detach from a person or situation as a way of protecting themselves.

According to Health Line, “Numbing yourself to emotions and feelings may not be healthy. Indeed, frequently “turning off” your emotions may lead to unhealthy behaviors. These include an inability to show empathy or a fear of commitment. What’s more, people that struggle to express emotions or process them in a healthy manner may seek out other outlets for those feelings. This could include drugs, alcohol, or aggressive behaviors. These aren’t a substitute for emotional processing, but they may feel like a way to release that energy.”

Based on this data it is not surprising and concurs with research done showing women who receive abortions are at a much higher risk of mental health problems. A study of 877,181 women (163,831 of whom had experienced abortion) published in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that

“Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion. The strongest subgroup estimates of increased risk occurred when abortion was compared with term pregnancy and when the outcomes pertained to substance use and suicidal behaviour.”

The number of women participating in these studies dwarfs ANSIRH’s numbers. However, the media tells women they should not feel guilty about their abortions, leaving many women confused about the complex emotions they feel. They do not want to talk about their grief because they have been told it is not valid. It is dishonest and dangerous for society to continue silencing the thousands of women who have been hurt by abortion. Women deserve to know the truth about abortion and that includes the heightened risk of mental health problems.

The reality is that a large majority of women suffer post-abortive regret in silence. However, many women have found healing and hope from the trauma of abortion through post abortion healing services. Compared to the 667 women who completed ANSIRH’s study, 300,000 individuals, couples, and families have found healing from their post abortive regret through Rachel’s Vineyard, a retreat that offers hope and healing to men and women after abortion. In 2017, based on a report from Charlotte Lozier, pregnancy centers associated with CareNet, Heartbeat International, and NIFLA offered post-abortion services to 23,578 women and 563 men. Silent No More is a campaign dedicated to “Mak[ing] the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men.” There are currently 19,483 people registered with the campaign along with 6,324 women and 678 men who have not joined but have registered their regret.

Women deserve to know the truth about abortion. They deserve to know all the risks associated with it. The media does not serve women by lying to them and hiding the truth about the pain and suffering abortion causes women. And the women who suffer from its consequences deserve to have their voices heard.

If you are a post-abortive woman, know that there is forgiveness and healing after abortion. You are not alone and you do not have to suffer in silence. Reach out to organizations like OptionLine, Project Rachel, Ramah International, PATH, or go to Care Net to find a resource center near you that can provide post abortive counseling services.e

Human Defense Initiative Website



A Powerful Testimony from a Post-Abortive Mother Leading Others to Healing and Wholeness in Jesus

“More than one in four women have had an abortion. This is an epidemic! So many are hurting. But because of God’s grace, and His grace alone, I am given the privilege to meet other women in their own struggle with abortion, and I can show them the beautiful complete healing of Jesus.”   

Wendy Schetig 1

On January 22, 2020, the 47th anniversary of Roe v Wade, 130 pro-lifers gathered in front of Planned Parenthood, Warminster, PA for a Prayer Rally for Life.  Wendy Schettig was one of the invited guest speakers.  She shared her compelling testimony about the impact of having an abortion as a 19 year-old teen.  Her journey takes her from deep regret, extreme emotional pain and mental breakdowns to forgiveness, healing and redemption through Jesus and His Holy Word.

Wendy is a wife, mother and musician, singer/song writer.  She has a ministry to post-abortive women, faithstep.  Wendy’s healing and inspirational music is available at  Read her miraculous testimony below.

Below is a very personal story, my story about abortion. The reason I tell you this story is because I want others to know there is help for women and men who are struggling with abortion(s) in their past. It’s not a political story, it’s just a very true story about the pain I was unable to reconcile between myself, my unborn baby, and God. It was only when I finally grasped the true depth of God’s love that I found healing. Here is my story:

I had an abortion in August 1975 when I was 19 years old. I lived in a small town in Maine at home with my Dad who was verbally abusive and a heavy drinker. I was afraid of Dad and afraid of what the small-town-busybodies would say when they found out I was pregnant. The baby’s father didn’t hesitate to strongly suggest abortion. So I took what I thought was the easy way out and had an abortion. I was told I could have this procedure, forget about it, and go on with my life like nothing happened. I was young and naive, so I believed them.

Although I had been told the baby inside me wasn’t much more than a bunch of cells, deep down I knew this was a little life that trusted me to protect it. It seemed easier not to dwell on what I thought was true, so it served my purposes to bury my doubts.

However, during the abortion, with the truth ripping at my soul, I cried bitterly as I lay on the table. I believed my baby’s soul was floating upward and away into the darkness of space without love and surrounded by the cold. In the days and years to come, the terrible emptiness of that thought took me to untold depths.

When the abortion was over, I asked the nurse if my baby was a boy or a girl. She laughed and answered harshly, “How should I know? It came out in lots of little pieces.” I was horrified. I could do nothing else but choke down my feelings, get up and walk away.
I managed not to think about it most of the time, but a slow insidious grief crept in. I became withdrawn. I allowed thoughts of condemnation to seep into my mind. They were words of deep shame and worthlessness.

The abusive words I continued to hear from my father rang truer than ever because now they validated the horrible person I had become. I hated myself. I apologized for my very existence and felt grateful that anyone would bother to house me. I thought I would be better off dead so the rest of the world would have one less burdensome mouth to feed.

A year later I married a man who knew nothing about the abortion. I hoped I could fix my pain by changing my living situation and my home. I was just making more mistakes to try to fix the old ones, and more people were getting hurt in the process.

By the time I was twenty one, I had been married, divorced, and alienated from my dad. I drank too much and continued down a path of destruction. I was an emotional meltdown waiting to happen. That meltdown came three years later in the form of a terrible nightmare. I dreamed I gave birth to my lost baby. I was excited at the thought of seeing my baby, but before I could hold it or even see it, the doctor wrapped it up and took it away. I ran down the hall crying for my baby, but when I found it I was horrified to see the doctor chopping it up with a butcher knife. I awoke screaming at the doctor to stop killing my baby.

After the dream that night I lay there in the dark crying and bitterly hating the doctor. As I sorted out the memory of my dream, I was initially relieved that the nightmare was just a dream. It hurt as I felt strong maternal instincts for my baby and dearly longed for it to be alive with me. But then the deep hidden truth crept in — this nightmare was real — the baby was real — the doctor was real — and a powerful Truth spoke directly to my soul, “The doctor didn’t kill my baby. I did.”

I cried for two days. I couldn’t get out of bed. I just cried. As I lay there alone thinking, I decided I should die. Then I thought about hell. Prior to this I didn’t think hell existed, but now I realized there must be a hell for people like me. If I killed myself, I would surely go there. I wanted to crawl out of my own skin and be someone or even something else. Then I thought about God. I didn’t know much about God, but I knew he was angry with me. I surely didn’t deserve anything else but death and hell.

After the second day of crying, I mustered up enough self preservation to run away. I decided to run away from me. I hoped maybe I would be able to start a new life again somewhere where nobody knew me. Then maybe after twenty years or so God would forget what I did, and He would let me be His friend. So I grabbed a few clothes, my guitar, and drove away. I left what I knew behind and went looking for God.

Click here to continue reading Wendy’s healing through Christ and her ministry to post abortive women.