How Many Women Are Pressured Into Abortions?

How Many Women Are Pressured Into Abortions?

We’re supposed to believe both that women never flinch when considering abortions and that they can’t buy their own birth control. New research shows that’s absurd.
Greg Scandlen
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One would think any large movement that styles itself “pro-choice” would want to ensure its beneficiaries are in fact free to choose and well-informed about the implications of those choices.

One might think that unless, of course, one were dealing with an abortion industry whose goal is not “choice” at all, but delivering as many abortions as possible.

Why else would the industry try so hard to downplay the problem of coerced abortions? Why is it so hard for them to have any sympathy for a young girl who gets pregnant, who is scared and confused and hears from a boyfriend or family member, “You’re PREGNANT?!? Get rid of it NOW!” Maybe it’s a boyfriend who doesn’t relish the thought of 18 years of child support. Maybe it’s a mother who thinks she is too young to be a grandmother. Maybe it’s a father who is ashamed of having a slut for a daughter.

The pressure can be intense, involving the threat of violence, abandonment, shunning, and expulsion from the home. It might just be a barrage of yelling and screaming. It is extremely hard for a young woman who is already going through the hormonal changes of pregnancy—morning sickness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea—to stand up to such abuse.

Women Are Pressured into Abortions

We may never know the extent of the problem. The pro-life side likely exaggerates it and the pro-choice side minimizes it. There are anecdotes aplenty.

The article pays no attention to women who are coerced into abortions without first being coerced into getting pregnant.

One study from the pro-life side reported, “In a national study of women, 64% of those who aborted felt pressured to do so by others. This pressure can become violent. 65% suffered symptoms of trauma. In the year following an abortion, suicide rates are 6-7 times higher. See also this report from “Clinic Quotes.”

But even the pro-choice side is beginning to wake up to the issue. An article in The Daily Beast is headlined, “Coerced Abortions: A New Study Shows They’re Common.” The article is based largely on information from the Guttmacher Institute (a pro-abortion research center) but raises the topic of “reproductive coercion.” This is an interesting twist on the concept. Rather than looking at women who are coerced into having an abortion, it looks at women who are coerced or tricked first into getting pregnant, then also coerced into aborting the baby, identified as “reproductive control.”

The article notes that very little research had been done on this until 2007, but since that time there have been several studies of women who are in “violent relationships.” They found that one-third to one-half of these women have experienced some form of “reproductive coercion,” as have some 15 percent of women not in violent relationships. But the article pays no attention to women who are coerced into abortions without first being coerced into getting pregnant.

Abortion Coercion Isn’t Just a Subcategory

This sleight of hand is also used in a long report by Sofia Resnick, “Health Experts Challenge ‘Coerced-Abortion’ Laws.” This author is concerned that, “This year alone, at least 11 states have considered abortion bills that deal with coercion, according to Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion policy group in Washington, D.C.”

Is coerced abortion really just a subcategory of a bigger issue of domestic and sexual violence, or is it an important issue in its own right?

She believes such laws are simply a pretext to make access to abortion more difficult: “Many public-health professionals who support abortion rights oppose these types of abortion laws because they say anti-coercion policies that single out abortion sidestep the broader issue of domestic and sexual violence, which many believe is the root of coercion.”

But is coerced abortion really just a subcategory of a bigger issue of domestic and sexual violence, or is it an important issue in its own right? The article goes on to say, “very little research has been done exclusively on coerced abortions,” and cites Elizabeth Miller, who “has been researching domestic and sexual violence for over 30 years,” as saying, “To focus on the minutia of coerced abortion really takes away from the really broad problem of domestic violence.”

This falls into the “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail” category. How does Miller know coerced abortion is “minutia” if so little research has been done on it? Miller’s career has been all about domestic violence, so of course, to her anything else is a distraction. In fact, coercion does not have to involve violence at all. There can be emotional coercion, financial coercion, and social pressure. There can be browbeating, ridicule, and ostracism. This sort of bullying has been known to lead emotionally insecure adolescents to suicide, and no one dismisses it as “minutia.”

Women Are Never, Ever Bullied

A medical facility should be a safe haven, a place where a troubled girl can be protected from such bullying, catch her breath, and refocus on what she wants in this life. Medical professionals should devote themselves to the wishes of their patients, not the wishes of family members, boyfriends, or social peers.

Usually in cases of domestic abuse, such “caregivers” are required to report abusers to the police or social agencies. It is not optional. But in the case of abortion, an entire industry will steamroll over anything that gets in the way of their profit centers. Take Amanda Marcotte. She writes:

So the amount of conspiracy theorist bullshit around Planned Parenthood is growing dramatically, as Fox News is adding the anti-choice myth that women don’t choose abortion, but are forced into it by an evil feminist/male pervert/gynecologist conspiracy to make women, uh, ‘sexually available.’

This claim that women do not choose abortion, but are coerced into it, was drafted for politically convenient reasons. Anti-choicers realize that by claiming that abortion is ‘murder’, they are arguing that 3 out of 10 women in the United States should be in prison serving a life sentence—or even, by their own measure, be slated for a death sentence.

Now, to be clear, they don’t really believe it’s murder. That’s just a typical right wing hyperbolic story that paints them as the good guys to cover up for their true intentions… it basically, without saying it, still conveys their usually unspoken ideas about women and sex: That women are (or should be, anyway) not interested in sex. Liking sex for its own sake is often euphemistically called ‘acting like men’.

Good Gravy! Is there anyone the abortion industry won’t throw under the bus? Suddenly women are never abused, never coerced, never vulnerable, never pressured, (never raped?). Like Soviet-style murals of heroic agricultural workers, women are all strong, brave, and unafraid! They all stride boldly across the stage of sexual politics.

Yet at the same time, there is a fearsome “rape culture” on college campuses, women can’t manage to pay for their own birth control, they must be protected against every “microaggression” that rears its ugly head, and run to “safe rooms” where they can watch videos of puppies at play to recover from the assault of a speech by Christina Summers.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the one not populated by cardboard cutouts of cartoon characters, there is a real problem of bullying and abuse. Some not-small numbers of the victims are newly pregnant women and girls who are not allowed to be “pro-choice” because someone else has already decided their fate.

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Greg Scandlen is the founder of Consumers for Health Care Choices, as well as an accomplished writer, researcher, and public speaker. He is considered one of the nation's experts on health care financing, insurance regulation, and employee benefits. He blogs at http://gmscan.wordpress.com/

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