A collection of stories from women who have experienced abortion called “Empty Arms: More Than 60 Life-Giving Stories of Hope from the Devastation of Abortion” features the story of one woman who was pressured into an abortion at age 16.
When the young woman became pregnant, she wanted to keep her baby. “I decided to keep my baby from the start,” she explained. “For weeks, I followed her development with medical books and pictures.… My hand was never far from my stomach.”1
Her parents, however, were horrified when she told them about her pregnancy. They told her to have an abortion, and when she wouldn’t, they kicked her out of the house. She said:
When I finally told my parents of my pregnancy, they were devastated. They pleaded with me to have an abortion, but I felt I’d rather die than hurt my baby. When I didn’t change my mind, they asked me to leave.1
The young girl turned to the religious people around her for advice, but they also encouraged her to abort. “Well-meaning people told me that God understood my need for an abortion,” she said. “It was the responsible thing to do. Having a baby at my age would be unfair to so many people, they said.”1
Both her parents and the doctor she contacted claimed her baby wasn’t a person yet. The teenager was confused at what all the adults in her life were telling her and wondered how abortion could be wrong if so many people accepted it. “I let my feelings cloud my judgment,” she said, “and I closed my heart completely.”1
The fact that abortion was legal and readily available made it possible for adults to coerce the teenager into having an abortion. In retrospect, the woman writes:
I remember wishing that abortion wasn’t legal. People say it gives women a choice, but I felt I didn’t have one. Since abortion was available, it was my duty to choose it.1
After the abortion, she said, “There was a pit inside me that I dared not go near.” She also described the way she felt after the abortion as “indescribable emptiness.”1
One day at a movie, she saw an advertisement on the screen that said, “Hurting after an abortion?” She memorized the number and called it. At first, she told the woman who picked up the phone that she didn’t regret her abortion. She explained:
I argued that I didn’t regret my decision, and I did not have feelings to deal with. But I couldn’t say the word baby or look at pregnant women or hold a teddy bear or buy a goldfish or touch my stomach or be reminded that I had a heartbeat.1
In the course of her conversation with the woman, who was from a pro-life pregnancy resource center, she realized that she did regret the abortion – very much. She began counseling at the center. Through the pro-life ministry of the pregnancy resource center, she began to heal. And though she says she has come to a place of healing, she will always regret her abortion.
This young woman is not alone in being pressured into an abortion by her parents. There are countless other examples. One study found that among minors whose parents found out they were pregnant without being told by the minors, 18% of the parents forced their daughters to have abortions. Six percent of the minors reported that their parents resorted to physical violence to force them to abort.2
Editor’s Note: For post-abortion help, contact the International Helpline for Abortion Recovery.
1. Wendy Williams, Ann Caldwell Empty Arms: More Than 60 Life-Giving Stories of Hope from the Devastation of Abortion(Chattanooga, Tennessee: Living Ink Books, 2005) 79-80
2. S Henshaw & K. Kost “Parental Involvement in minors’ abortion decisions” Family Planning Perspectives25(4) 1992
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