Much has been written about women who are coerced by their partners into having abortions. But minors are also pressured into abortions by their parents. One study found that 18% of minors whose parents found out about their pregnancies were coerced into abortions, with 6% of these minors reporting physical violence.
JoAnne Crough, professional counselor at Meier Clinics in Pittsburgh, says of forced abortions:
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)
Ruth, who became an alcoholic after she aborted her baby, describes forcing her teenage daughter, who was an incest victim, to have an abortion:
I continued drinking and my husband took custody of the kids. He got drunk one night, molested my daughter Rosemarie, and got her pregnant. I believed there was a chance the baby would have birth defects, so I used that to justify my insistence that she have an abortion. She didn’t want an abortion so she ran away. We had her picked up and went before a judge who agreed with me that an abortion would be the best thing under the circumstance. Rosemarie finally relented and had an abortion. Later when she married, she lost three babies due to an incomplete cervix. That was really hard for me because I felt it was more retribution.… I bought into a lie and convinced myself it wasn’t a baby until it took a breath. That way I could justify my own abortion and forcing my daughter to have one too.(2)
In an article in People magazine, a young woman recalls being forced into an abortion at age 12:
When my mother found out she went through the ceiling. She helped me make my decision. I remember her words, “I want what you want as long as what you want is what I want. And what I want is an abortion.”
Pro-life feminist Frederica Mathewes-Green tells the story of a young woman’s forced abortion:
Becky says that she had at first resolved to have the baby. But her mother took her to a counselor, ordering her to wait in the reception room while the two of them conferred. When they called Becky in, she was told that the counselor and her mother had agreed that Becky should have an abortion. Her mom added, “If you continue this pregnancy, you can’t live in my house.”
Becky was stunned, but at a loss for alternatives. She had a vague idea that there might be places for rejected pregnant women to go – “there were some Catholic maternity homes, somewhere” – but had neither the resources nor the self-confidence to track down that possibility. She had the abortion. Eight years later, she is still grieving: “I was already attached to that baby.”(3)
Former abortion facility manager Norma Goldberger wrote about this phenomenon in her memoir. She says:
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. Some youngsters felt they could have the baby, give it to their parents to raise and continue to live a life of no responsibility.
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.
In this case, the facility did not commit an abortion on the young woman against her will.
This was not the case at Planned Parenthood, where a 17-year-old girl attempted to back out of her abortion, only to be shoved into the procedure room and forced to have the abortion.
These are only a tiny handful of examples. Minors who are coerced into abortions by parents may struggle with lifelong guilt and grief. These incidents show that all too often, abortion is not a “woman’s choice.”
1. Sharon Serratore “Coerced into Unwanted Abortions” The American Feminist Fall/Winter 2016
2. Kathleen Meikle A River of Tears (2017) 123, 124
3. Frederica Mathewes-Green Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion (Felicity Press; 3 edition, April 16, 2013) Kindle version