Not long ago, a 19-year-old young woman I’ll call Karla came in to Your First Look. She was visibly nervous–talking and wringing her hands while she talked. She told Erin, her advocate, that she had not taken a pregnancy test yet, but she was late and she “just knew” she was pregnant. As our nurse ran her pregnancy test, Karla told Erin about her plans to go to college and what she wanted to do when she graduated. She said she and the potential father were not together. He wanted her to have an abortion if she was pregnant. She believed her mom and sister would also encourage her to get an abortion. Karla also talked about friends who had abortions in the past and regretted them.
The nurse came in and told Karla she was indeed pregnant. Karla burst into tears. The ultrasound confirmed that she had a viable, 7-week pregnancy. Erin, went over all of Karla’s options–abortion, adoption, and parenting. After much conversation, Karla felt like she was 50/50 between adoption and parenting.
Karla didn’t want to tell her mom, but didn’t know how to keep it from her. She decided she would try to tell her mom and scheduled a repeat appointment for the following week. She hoped her mom would come to that appointment.
Erin texted Karla two days later to see how she was doing. She told Erin she was doing well, but hadn’t told her mom yet. She was still planning to come back the following Monday. On Friday, Erin was doing follow up and was thinking about Karla. She texted Karla to see if she talked to her mom. Karla texted back saying she was sitting on the table at the abortion clinic ready to have an abortion. “But I don’t want to do it,” she wrote.
Erin immediately called her and she answered, sobbing and wailing. She told Erin she had told her mom and sister (who had an abortion in the past) and they told her she was too young, too immature and “wouldn’t be a good mom.” Karla said she told them she wanted to do an adoption. They told her they would not support her decision and would not let her live with either of them. She said her mom and the father of the baby paid for the abortion and she didn’t think she could get her money back and that she was alone.
Erin told Karla she had every right to walk out right there and that we would have someone pick her up. She told Karla that she was the only person who could make this decision and that no one could force her to have an abortion. Erin told her that we could help her with resources and options. But Karla just kept sobbing saying she had to do this, but didn’t want to. Erin told her to tell the nurse that she wanted to leave and she just kept saying she didn’t think she could. Karla hung up the phone when the doctor came in.
A few hours later Erin called Karla who said she went through with the abortion and that it was an awful experience. She said she truly felt she had no other choice because of her mom, sister and father of the baby. Erin told her she was worthy, valuable and that nothing will change that. Erin then invited Karla to come in on Monday to talk.
Karla did come back the following Monday and she and Erin were able to talk for a long time. Erin told her that she could come back anytime to talk. Erin also gave her some numbers and information for counseling and post-abortion support.
At the end of this visit, Erin gave Karla a hug and asked her to call or text her if she needed to talk or wanted to come back in. Karla has since spoken to Erin telling her that she was feeling “emotional and messed up,” but to date she hasn’t come back in.
It is difficult to determine just how frequently women are pressured to abort, but the reality is that it does exist. Some websites state that as many as 64% of women are being pushed into an abortion by a parent or boyfriend. Other websites will claim that women are rarely forced to abort.
Our experience is that women are frequently being pushed into abortion. Like Karla, we often see young women who are being told that they will be kicked out of the house if they don’t go through with an abortion. Boyfriends threaten to end a relationship if the woman doesn’t have an abortion.
However, even if you are under age, no one can force you to have an abortion. It is against the law for anyone to attempt to force you. If someone is pushing you to abort, you can call 911 and get the police involved or call your local Bar Association and ask about getting an attorney to help you. Your First Look and other women’s centers can help too. We can fax abortion clinics stating that if you are brought in for an abortion that it is against your will and they are not to perform one. Police officers are supposed to enforce those letters regardless of your age.
If you are still taken to an abortion clinic, you should call 911 or text someone to do it for you. If that’s not possible, you can also start yelling at the abortion clinic that you do not want an abortion. Tell the doctor or nurse that you do not want an abortion and you will call the police if they attempt to perform one.