Layla was 15 years old when her parents forced her into an abortion. Her mother was physically and emotionally abusive, and her father ignored the abuse, failing to defend his daughter. When she learned she was pregnant, Layla and her boyfriend wanted to keep their baby, but her parents pushed her to abort.
“I was happy,” explained Layla. “It was what I had wanted. I would raise my baby to know how special he or she was.”
Layla attempted to hide her pregnancy from her parents. But she confided in a friend, and that friend told her mother. The friend’s mother decided to tell Layla’s parents.
“My father went ballistic,” said Layla. “Ranting and raving, he screamed that I had to get an abortion. I was appalled – how could I abort the baby I’d longed for? That I already loved?”
Layla was sure she didn’t want an abortion. But her father continued to hound her. She explained:
I had never seen my father the way he was during that time. It was as if someone kidnapped my mild-mannered parent and replaced him with someone aggressive and mean. He shouted vile words at me, pointing his finger in accusation over and over.
It wasn’t as though I’d never heard him yell or say ugly things before, but prior to that day it’d only been directed at my mother. Now, the father who had once called me his little princess relentlessly beat me down.
Layla’s mother also wanted her to have an abortion. Layla wondered, “Where would I go if they threw me out?”
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Layla’s father kept up the relentless pressure: “My father never let up day in and day out. I was in a torture chamber, only the prison cell was my home, and the enemy soldier was my own father.”
Eventually, Layla let her parents take her to Planned Parenthood. There, she saw an abortion worker who “didn’t seem very professional. Her uniform was ripped and had a couple of missing buttons.”
Planned Parenthood doesn’t usually show women their ultrasounds, but in this case, the worker did. “As soon as I saw the little baby with the strong heartbeat, I was done,” said Layla. “I started shaking violently, hot tears coursing down my face. Inside I was screaming. I can’t do this! I don’t want to do this!”
She was so distraught that the worker took her back to her parents and told them she “wasn’t ready” to have the abortion. Her father was furious. “All the way home I was berated and ridiculed… If the pressure had been high that first week, the intensity doubled,” she said.
Finally, her father told her that if she refused to abort her baby, he would commit suicide. Layla said:
What should I do? I wasn’t sure if my father was really serious, but he’d been so different during the past couple of weeks. His threat seemed quite real. I felt as though I were being torn in two.
I was being asked to make a horrific choice: the death of my child, or the death of my father.
The psychological burden that this emotional blackmail placed on Layla was enormous. She was afraid her father would make good on his threat. Then her mother pleaded with her to abort, telling her that if she didn’t, her father would divorce her.
Layla now felt responsible for her father’s life and her parent’s marriage. She explained, “I couldn’t take it anymore. How could I possibly have this baby on my own with no support? Where would I go?”
Her mother made an appointment at another abortion facility and told Layla she’d get counseling there. Layla described this so-called counseling:
I met with a counselor who told me that it wasn’t a baby at all. That it was more like a little alien. She said that it was okay – that this was what girls in my situation did.
That was the extent of my “counseling.” I tried to believe what she was telling me was true. By that point, I was completely numb. My body might be present, but the rest of me was somewhere deep inside.
Layla described the abortion as “quick but excruciating.” She said:
I wasn’t given any sedative or anesthesia. The nurse held my hand, but the doctor never looked at me or spoke one word. Worst of all was the horrifying sound of the contents of my uterus being sucked through the tube.
That would haunt me for a very long time.
Layla suffered emotional pain and trauma for years after the abortion. She said that “For a long time, I was alone in a sea of grief and pain. Everything shut down, and all I seemed to be able to do was cry.”
She told the father of her baby that she had suffered a miscarriage. Thankfully, years later, she found peace through her religious faith.
Layla is not alone in her experience of being pressured into an abortion. A study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that nearly 74% of women who sought post-abortion counseling said they had faced some level of pressure to abort their babies. In addition, a study from the Elliot Institute revealed that 64% of women who had an abortion did so under pressure.
Jenny A Farrell Ribbon of Redemption: True Stories Offering Hope & Healing After Abortion (Rock Island, Illinois: Testimonies of Hope Publishing, 2016) 125-129
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