Pro-abortion activists claim that abortion is always a woman’s choice. But all too often, women are pressured into having abortions by their partners or parents. These women do not “choose” abortion freely, but are forced into a decision they have little or no control over.
JoAnne Crough, professional counselor at Meier Clinics office in Pittsburgh, describes how common this is:
This happens more often than you might think. In most cases it’s the teen or woman’s parents who suggest this way of dealing with the pregnancy. They make it clear that an abortion will “solve everything.” They typically keep the entire process as secretive as possible. The young woman in this situation is extremely vulnerable to being coerced to make the others in her life happy. She has upset those closest to her with the news of her pregnancy. She feels confusion, shame, and fear. She becomes isolated from other forms of support. Combined, these put tremendous pressure on her to comply.(1)
A previous Live Action article tells the story of Paula Veit Fetter, who was forced into an abortion she didn’t want. She became pregnant at 16, and her father demanded she abort. He drove her to an abortion clinic. She told the doctor there she did not want an abortion, but he said that abortion was her only option. She then told the clinic workers that her dad was abusive and showed them the bruises he had inflicted on her. The social worker at the clinic talked to her father, elicited from him a promise not to beat her anymore, and sent her home with him.
In the car, her father violently attacked her, and the beating lasted two days. The teen then went to another agency for help, only to be turned away. She ended up in a group home. After a failed suicide attempt, Paula reluctantly gave in and got the abortion everyone in her life was urging her to have.
Sometimes abortions are coerced by the unwillingness of partners or parents to provide housing. Marion, who reluctantly had an abortion at her partner Pierre’s insistence, believed she would have had nowhere to live if she had the baby. She says:
I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered I was pregnant ….[But] the reality of [Pierre’s] commitment to me set in and he asked me to have an abortion. …I found myself in a very precarious position. If I had the baby, I would have nowhere to live and no means of supporting myself and a child, but if I had an abortion, I could live with either my sister or Pierre….
I decided to have an abortion, but with a great fuss. I made the appointment and then I canceled it.… In the end, I made the appointment at the Marie Stopes Clinic and Pierre and I went together…When we went to the clinic, I was praying all the way there that he would say it was alright… That I didn’t have to have the abortion and he would help me.…
I had so many mixed feelings as I lay on the operating table waiting for the anesthetist. I didn’t want the abortion right up to the last minute before I lost consciousness.(2)
Each anniversary of the abortion since then I have been progressively more upset about the abortion. That’s the strange contradiction which only those who had an abortion can understand… The sense of loss increases with time rather than decreases.(3)
Another woman described being abandoned by her boyfriend and pressured by her parents:
I’d been with my boyfriend for five years and we’d recently got engaged. When I realised I was expecting I was so excited, but he was horrified and said that at 22 he was too young to become a father. Devastated, I returned home to my parents and they put pressure on me to have an abortion My mother said I was too young and irresponsible, and my attempts to fight were futile. Within a week, I’d been booked into a hospital and had an abortion.(4)
She struggles not to regret her decision:
I’m not saying it was the wrong decision, but it definitely wasn’t my decision – I really wanted to have the baby and that choice was taken out of my hands. As a result, I felt cheated and angry at everyone.(4)
In cases where partners are abusive, women may feel they have little recourse but to obey when told to abort. A woman who was in a self-described “abusive” relationship told the following story:
He had gotten me pregnant twice, and when I told him, he basically muttered “take care of it!”. I went alone, had the abortion alone, and drove myself home, alone. He spent that night in the bar, and didn’t come home until 6:00 am.
This woman was obviously not “empowered” by her abortion.
The director of one abortion facility describes how parents sometimes tried to force their daughters to abort:
Often parents would beg us to convince their underage children to terminate pregnancies. There was nothing we could do if the youngster chose to continue their pregnancy. …
I recall one mother shouting that we were legally obligated to perform the abortion on her daughter because she paid us, and signed a medical permission form. We told her it didn’t work that way. We gave her a refund, minus a very small fee for the doctor’s examination and lab work, because her daughter refused to terminate the pregnancy.(6)
In this case, the abortion facility thankfully refused to do an abortion on the young woman against her will, although this is not always the case. (One wonders how much the “small fee” was.)
In fact, Planned Parenthood did a study back in 1987 which found that 30% of minors seeking abortions attributed their decisions in part to the fact that their parents wanted them to have abortions. These numbers were confirmed in a 1991 study. Parents favored abortion over having the baby by a 4 to 1 ratio. Although these studies were done a long time ago, they show that parents have been coercing their teenage children to have abortions for a long time.
The late Alan Guttmacher, once president of Planned Parenthood, said:
30% of women, almost one out of 3, have abortions because someone else – often the man involved – wants them to. Is this choice?
Guttmacher was as pro-abortion as they come, and yet he acknowledged that many women are wrongly pressured and forced into abortion.
It’s not just Planned Parenthood that has acknowledged that a significant number of women are pressured into abortions. Other abortion supporteres have acknowledged abortion coercion as well.
Pro-choice author Alexander Sanger, who is a descendant of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, admits that when a man abandons his pregnant partner, there is more pressure on her to abort:
Legal abortion has led to a situation where there is little community pressure for the man to marry the woman and he often disappears, leaving the woman to make the decision on her own. At this point community pressure can have a decisive influence on her decision.(7)
Abortionist Dr. Don Sloan, who has dealt with thousands of abortion patients, maintains that many abortions take place because the man, not the woman, wants them:
It’s never simple. But when it comes to a choice between the man and the pregnancy, many women yield. They do what the man wants.(8)
The Elliot Institute, in their “Forced Abortion Report” cited a study saying 64% of aborting women were coerced into their abortions, usually by the baby’s father. This is a shockingly high number.
This article is only a basic overview of how abortions can be coerced. Sadly, there are countless testimonies from women who were pressured to abort that can be found online.
Editor’s Note: If you are facing pressure to abort, please check out the resources and information here: What to Do If Your Boyfriend – or Anyone – Wants You to Get an Abortion. If you have begun an abortion you do not want, you can call the 24-hour, nurse-staffed hotline from Abortion Pill Reversal at 1-877-558-0333 or go to their site here for possible help in reversing your abortion.
- Sharon Serratore “Coerced into Unwanted Abortions” The American Feminist Fall/Winter 2016
- Miriam Claire The Abortion Dilemma: Personal Views on a Public Issue (New York: Insight Books, 2013) 106-111
- Natasha Pearlman Jenny Nisbet “Abortion: The Legacy” The Daily Mail July 27, 2006 42
- Norma Goldberger Abortion Confidential: Secrets of an Abortion Clinic Owner (CreateSpace , November 23, 2014) Kindle Edition
- Alexander Sanger Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century (New York: Public Affairs, 2004) 128
- Don Sloan, M.D. with Paula Hartz, Abortion: a Doctor’s Perspective, a Woman’s Dilemma (New York: Donald I Fine Inc., 1992) 171