Why does abortion make people angry? What is it about the topic that makes people spit with rage? There is no doubt abortion is a controversial topic with filled with different emotional opinions. Here are some of the reasons why people are so upset and hurt when the topic is brought up – or they encounter someone with a strongly held different belief.
Many people have either had or know a friend or relative who has had an abortion experience. The experience may or may not have been a positive experience. There may be feelings of denial or repressed feelings on the topic. When somebody in strong denial over their feelings and experience of abortion meets somebody who is expressing a pro-life position – anger can be the outward expression.
St Thomas Aquinas said the first reaction to truth is anger. Truth is sometimes difficult to accept and hard to bear. It is even harder to bear when it contradicts our own heartfelt, honest and passionate convictions. I have seen this in my own life when I have been wrong about the things I have truly believed in.
A person who is angry may be experiencing what is known in psychology as cognitive dissonance. This is when the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs or ideas at the same time. They may perform an action that is contradictory to some of those ideas or be confronted with new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values. Most people want to have internal consistency with their beliefs and values. Somebody who experiences inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable and tries to reduce their dissonance and avoid situations and information likely to increase it.
God often works through the conscience of mankind. When our conscience is violated or provoked it can also lead to anger. Our conscience helps to guide us in making good decisions. Anger is a natural part of the grieving process for somebody who has had an abortion. Abortion involves loss. A natural reaction to loss is anger. Many women believe that abortion will solve the problem of the moment, but are surprised to be grieving intensely after the fact. While the decision of abortion brings relief to be out of the situation, when the dust clears and the crisis is over a clearly identifiable feeling of loss of the pregnancy comes bubbling to the surface. Anger can be directed at others or at self.
Anger is a natural response to hurt unmet needs and expectations. It hurts to realize there was a pregnancy and now it is gone. There could be feelings of betrayal or lack of support from a boyfriend. Anger can lead to resentment, bitterness and depression when is denied and stuffed down.
Anger surrounding abortion can also be because of physical and emotional hurts that are not resolved and the inability and failure to control circumstances. Anger can be directed towards lack of information prior to the abortion decision, being lied to, a sense of worthlessness, compromise of values, poor medical care and a realization that a human being was aborted. People can become angry with God for not stopping the abortion.
Post-Abortion Syndrome is a term that has been used to describe the emotional and psychological consequences of abortion. A traumatic experience, without the opportunity to process the experience emotionally can leave a delayed negative reaction. We live in a society that ignores the painful consequences of abortion. Most people are encouraged to be in denial, so they do not talk about the normal feelings of anxiety, shame, guilt and grief which follow an abortion. When these feelings are buried, they then come to the surface later having grown in time.
A woman who has had an abortion can express her guilt and shame through anger at herself and others involved in the abortion decision such as parents, friends, doctor, the baby’s father and men in general. She may also be angry with her children or future children, which can result in abuse. Studies indicate that child abuse is more frequent among mothers who previously had an abortion. This is due to the guilt and depression hindering the mother’s ability to bond with her children (Dr Philip G. Ney, “A consideration of abortion survivors,” Child psychiatry and Human Development, Spring 1983).
What can help to overcome anger?
Life presents us with situations that anger. We must admit we are angry. We must seek God’s forgiveness for any sinful action. We should also ask God to help resolve the situation that led to becoming angry and then also to refuse mulling over the circumstances which led to becoming angry in the first place. Good can come from hurt, and find someone to share your burden. Anger is an emotion. Emotions are neither good nor bad in themselves. We should not sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26) and righteous anger always looks for a positive and constructive change. James 1:19-20 called us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Righteous anger, justified and controlled can do tremendous good.