In the book, “Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion,” a woman named Barbara shared her story of being pressured into an abortion by her husband and several doctors. The forced abortion was committed against her will and the experience makes a mockery of the phrase “pro-choice.”
Barbara became pregnant at age 39 while using an IUD — a long-term birth control device. From the moment she found out she was pregnant, she wanted to keep the baby. But her doctor had other ideas. She explained:
[The doctor] said that I was a very ‘unusual’ woman wanting a baby at 39 – it was unfair to my husband, the doctor would expect his wife to have an abortion under the same circumstances, it would ruin our social life and be detrimental to our other four children.
She then went to see a specialist a week later with questions about how the IUD would affect the child. “The specialist yelled at me that it did not matter – I had two children already (actually four), I was 39 and I had no right to do this to anyone,” said Barbara. “I was ‘odd.’ My husband would probably beat up all the children (he did have a history of violence).”
These doctors may have considered themselves “pro-choice,” however, neither of them respected Barbara’s choice to have her baby. The combined pressure of both doctors and her husband led to her signing papers for the abortion. “I signed the abortion papers with tears dripping over them and was booked into the hospital for the following week,” she explained. “Things were made even more difficult for me because I would not consent to a tubal ligation at the same time.”
In the days preceding the unwanted and forced abortion, she pleaded with her husband not to force her to go through with it. She explained:
The final week at home before [the] hospital was hell. I cried constantly and begged my husband to change his mind, but all he did was hiss, “get rid of it.” I was in a totally confused state. I felt the doctor knew something I did not about damage from the copper [IUD].
She was also surprised that the doctors were so persistent in demanding that she undergo an abortion. “I had expected the doctors to have said, ‘don’t be silly, you’re a very healthy woman, people like you do not have abortions; go home and wait for your husband to get used to the idea.’ (I’ve certainly learned a lot since then.)”
Sadly, many people who call themselves “pro-choice” are actually pro-abortion.
On the night before the abortion, Barbara was at the hospital. She told the doctor (a third doctor) that she didn’t want the abortion and asked him to give her information about alternatives. But he refused. She said:
Eventually, a doctor came into my room, took my blood pressure and remarked how healthy I was for my age. I said I did not want the abortion but had husband and [IUD] problems and could he give me some info. He said I would have to speak to my private specialist who would not be in until the next morning. He then left the room and walked down the passage. All of a sudden, he stormed back, put his head in the door and said: ‘It is just not done to have children at your age under your circumstances.’
She decided her only option was to speak to the specialist and explain to him that she didn’t want the abortion. She said, “That night I thought it through. I had been told my doctor always spoke to his patients first thing in the morning and I was anxiously waiting for him to turn up.”
But she was not given the option to talk to the abortionist. “At about 9 AM I asked a nurse when I would see him and was informed that he was already in [the operating room]. I was to be prepped immediately because I was the first to be done,” she recalled. “I was shocked. I was given a pethidine injection and after 11 weeks of avoiding aspirin, artificial colorants, and insecticides, this was the final blow. I was wheeled crying through miles of corridors to the [operating room] feeling defeated.”
Medical personnel ignored her tears and laughed and talked about other matters like whether or not Barbara was related to a well-known doctor at the hospital (she wasn’t) and how they liked the new operating room hats.
Barabara wanted to run. “I thought of getting off the [stretcher] and running and have often wondered if anyone has ever done this,” she said. “While I was still crying, they said they would just give me an injection into my hand. I said, ‘Won’t anyone save me?’ The specialist laughed and that was the end.”
Forced abortion is a common occurrence, though the abortion industry denies it happens. A study in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that nearly three-quarters (73.8%) of women who have undergone abortions and sought post-abortion care say they experienced some form of pressure to do so. Women in relationships with violent or otherwise abusive men appear to be at a greater risk of forced abortion. Today, Barbara works at a pregnancy resource center, giving pregnant women the help and support she wishes she had received.
Editor’s Note: For post-abortion help, contact the International Helpline for Abortion Recovery.
Source: Melinda Tankard Reist Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2007) 53 – 55, 57
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