Human Rights

Forced to abort her girls: An all-too-common tragedy

man and woman pregnantEarlier this month, Steve Conner of The Independent told the story of a British woman, forced by her husband to have multiple abortions. The reason? Her babies were girls.

The British-born woman of Pakistani parentage wanted her story to be told so that the wider world can know of the physical and emotional torment she and others in her position have had to endure as a result of terminating a pregnancy because it would have led to an unwanted daughter.

So far, “Samira” (not her real name), has been forced to have two abortions. At the time of Conner’s article, Samira was pregnant again, and dreading a likely third abortion if this baby, too, turns out to be a girl.

“Since falling pregnant, I think about it all the time. What’s going to happen? I’m really, really scared. I’m stressed out and I’m having nightmares about bleeding and being beaten up,” Samira said. “I think about running away with her and having the baby somewhere, but the thing is I can’t leave my children with him… I have my duty to my other children. I can’t leave them for someone who is not born. I don’t want it to happen.”

Samira shared with Conner how she did not choose either of her two abortions. Her husband forced them both times, upon learning that their babies were girls. He ordered her to tear up ultrasound photos of her first baby, so she wouldn’t keep remembering their daughter. And he ignored Samira’s utter happiness at the thought of their second daughter, insisting that she abort, once again.

Samira’s thoughts, desires, plans – and love for her daughters – are never considered. If she becomes pregnant and the baby is found out to be a girl, Samira has no choice. Abortion is the only answer for her, according to her husband’s decrees.

Samira told Conner she believes that laws should be passed to ban or delay giving out gender information after an ultrasound. “I think there should be a campaign, definitely, to ban gender scans altogether or get them delayed until some time when the abortion cannot happen…”

Samira’s husband was not the only one who did not care for her. She explained that the nurse at the second clinic did not care that she seemed upset. Instead of talking to the distraught mother, the nurse simply gave instructions on how to carry out the abortion. Samira was truly left all alone, fearing that she had nowhere to go. If she left her husband, she feared leaving her already-born sons. And if her husband found out she had refused the abortion, she believed he would cause an abortion to happen anyway, through his own physical abuse.

Not only are these repeated abortions killing girls simply for being girls, but they are also permanently damaging Samira herself.

“The worse thing was, when I went in, I had a bump, and when I came out there was no bump. I kept touching it and I just wanted to scream but the noise wouldn’t come out. I felt as if I was screaming but no noise was coming out. I wanted my baby back.”

With every abortion performed, Samira is in danger of uterine perforation, organ damage, and other life-threatening complications. Not only is her husband ordering their daughters to be cruelly killed for the “sin” of being female; he is also endangering his wife’s life with every abortion.

motherWhile Samira’s story is absolutely tragic, there is an even greater tragedy in realizing that Samira is not alone. In January of this year, Conner wrote an article detailing how sex-selective abortions do indeed happen in Britain, despite claims to the contrary. Conner’s article detailed a study, showing that there are between 1,400 and 4,700 “missing girls” in England and Wales, thanks to sex-selective abortions.

But, in his article about Samira, Conner admits that she would not have been included in the earlier study. Conner wonders how many other “missing girls” were missed in the study.

How widespread is the problem of sex-selective abortions? Live Action has discovered how abortion clinics are more than willing to allow it in the United States. How widespread is the problem of mothers being forced into aborting their daughters? And should we indeed, as Samira suggests, support legislation that would prohibit the sharing of gender information until after it is impossible to obtain an abortion?

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