Abortion coercion. It happens. And anecdotally, here at Emily’s Voice we hear of it happening all too frequently. When a woman is being coerced or even persuaded to have an abortion against her will, she is being denied the ‘right to choice’ that the pro-choice camp diligently lobbies for.
How do you know you are being coerced, manipulated or unduly persuaded towards abortion?
The definition of coercion is “using force or intimidation to obtain compliance” (according to dictionary.com). This can present in so many different ways, from violence to scaremongering to power plays and emotional blackmail. Whatever the tactics, it’s wrong. No woman should have to contest with coercive behaviour while she is coming to terms with a new pregnancy, planned or otherwise.
You should also consider if your current circumstances are forcing you to make a decision you otherwise wouldn’t choose. For example, your finances are so tight that you are seriously considering abortion, even though you believe it destroys life. This is a kind of circumstantial coercion. Your circumstance says you have no other choice, and perhaps there are people affirming this to you. This is not true, and to allow this voice space in your head right now will result in a decision you will regret. Remember, circumstances change so quickly, but this decision will stay with you forever. There is help available to you, no matter what situation you are in.
Still unsure if you are being coerced, manipulated or inappropriately pressured into abortion?
Take a look at these case studies.
Miss X was offered $50,000 to have an abortion she didn’t want. Her famous NRL player ex-boyfriend Bryce Cartwright had bullied her and finally paid her to abort their four-month-old baby. She had named him Noah. Read the full story HERE.
Yvette’s baby girl was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 within the womb. She decided, along with her husband, to proceed with the pregnancy despite the dire diagnosis. At every single appointment, doctors offered abortion, even urged them to reconsider. As a result, the pregnancy was a harrowing experience. Their baby girl, Ella, was born completely healthy. Read the full story HERE.
Karina fell pregnant at 18 to a man 14 years older than her. She was thrilled. She wanted to be a mum. But her partner wanted an abortion and was unrelenting. Karina’s history of childhood sexual abuse and neglect meant she felt disempowered to do anything but follow through with an abortion she didn’t want. Read the full story HERE.
When a Western Sydney teen couple, aged 14 and 15, had a baby girl, the powers-that-be insinuated that it would have been better if they had aborted her. Read the full story HERE.
Della was beaten and raped at the age of 17 and, when she discovered she was pregnant, her friends, the doctors, her parents – everyone – told her to have an abortion. Read the full story HERE.
Are you feeling coerced towards an abortion? Here are some practical steps to take.
- Tell someone what is happening. Choose them carefully. Someone you trust, who will want what’s best for you and your baby. It might be your mum, your doctor, a close friend or a teacher. Sadly, when women experience coercion, it’s often from the people closest to them; their parents, partner, doctor or friend. So choose mindfully, and if you don’t know anyone personally, contact a pregnancy support centre near you.
- Find someone to stand by you. This person will be your own personal advocate. They will attend appointments with you, deflect criticism, listen to you, stand tall with you, be brave with you. Again, if you don’t know anyone personally, contact your local pregnancy support centre. Someone is waiting for you to call.
- Take care of yourself. Pressure quickly turns into stress, which isn’t good for your health or your baby’s. Give yourself some space to think and prepare. Turn your phone off. Block the numbers of people who are not respecting your decision. You are already a mother, and it’s entirely within your right to do what’s best for you and your baby right now. Have a bath. Go for a walk. Read about your baby’s development. Let yourself be excited!
- Seek refuge. If you are in a violent or abusive relationship, you need to do something right now. There are so many places to turn for help in your situation, it’s hard to know where to start. You can apply for a protection order (AVO) through a solicitor or your local police – who will also provide assistance if you wish to leave and are afraid that things will get out of control. You can apply for crisis payments through Centrelink and you may also be eligible for emergency accommodation or increased home security. The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service offers counselling, advice and referrals via the hotline: 1800 737 732. Lifeline also offers help, and you kind find out how the law protects you in your state at Lawstuff.
- Surround yourself with positivity. Choose who you spend time with. That is, only hang out with people who support your motherhood journey. People who will help, encourage, uplift and validate you. People who are excited for you, who responded with “Congratulations!” when you announced your pregnancy. They’re the keepers!
We’re so sorry that your pregnancy experience has been clouded by coercion. It should never be this way. We hope that, by following some of the suggested pathways above, you will find love, hope and healing to step into the next chapter of your life.