‘Choice’ coerced

We have seen an increase in the numbers of women coming forward to talk about their negative experiences of being pregnant and being pushed toward abortion.   Some of these women continued their pregnancies, others succumbed to pressure, aborted and now live with terrible grief, one or 2 are still in the midst of great turmoil and pressure.   All beg the question, what kind of society have we created where the coercive nature of choice has become so commonplace that we barely recognise it anymore.

When the nature of abortion coercion has become so insidious, and the practise so commonplace that it is no longer recognised, women are in serious trouble.

Today a young married woman, excited about being pregnant, can present to her doctor for her first prenatal appointment and be asked about whether she ‘wants’ the pregnancy as a matter of routine.  This can even occur where the doctor knows the couple were trying to conceive.

‘I couldn’t believe it.  My husband and I were so excited about being pregnant that we did 2 tests just so we could see it again.  Then the doctor asks if we want it?  We switched doctors.’

A university aged woman will be told that she can’t possibly complete her education without abortion and that the ‘minor procedure’ will give her back her life.

‘I went to the office to find out the supports I could get throughout my pregnancy and into the next year with a new baby.  The woman sent me to the uni counsellor who immediately handed me a card for a local abortion clinic saying ‘this is where we send everyone, they will take care of you’.   When I said I didn’t want an abortion, she told me it was a quick and simple solution to my ‘problem’ and that without it I would probably have to leave uni.’

Well-intended parents, perhaps placing their own unmet life-goals and expectations onto the next generation, will threaten withdrawal of emotional, financial and practical support if their daughters don’t comply with demands to abort.

‘My boyfriend and I did lots of research about how we could manage a new baby and I could stay at university to finish my degree.  We had it all worked out before I told my parents.  My parents said they were counting on me to be the first one in our family to go to university.  They said that now I’d be on my own and couldn’t count on anybody, even my boyfriend and his family who they said were pressuring me to have the baby.  I had to wonder how it was that my boyfriend was supposedly pressuring me when I hadn’t even considered anything but having my baby before my parents made me feel such a disappointment’.   

The most concerning aspect of these kinds of responses to a woman’s pregnancy is that they are typical examples, not extraordinary scenarios.

University students are routinely told that having a baby will ruin their opportunity for an education.  Many universities still fail to offer flexible study options or suitable child care so that young women have genuine choice. Where child care centres do exist on campus, serving the needs of staff and students, limited places and long waiting lists are common.  At the same time universities allow abortion providers to offer generous student discounts for abortions through advertising in university diaries.

Doctors behave as though abortion is the default response to every pregnancy, making every woman ‘choose’ instead of just congratulating her.

Abortion advocates judge people who work to highlight the real needs of pregnant women as woman-hating radicals, condemning them for not providing practical support, and then undermine and act with hostility toward those who are offering supportive services.

In Gippsland in Victoria, a pregnancy and parenting resource centre offers free services to all women and their partners during pregnancy and early parenting.  They produce a family services guide which is widely distributed, provide breastfeeding and nappy change facilities at local events, help local eateries to become more family friendly, as well as providing material, financial and practical assistance to any woman referred or requesting it.    Yet twice since they established their services they have been actively undermined by council employees who have refused to allow local establishments to fundraise for them, and more recently have removed the family services guide from local maternal and child health services.   They have done this citing ideological concern, even though there has been no evidence of any ideological agendas except for the actions of the council employees themselves.   This has occurred in an environment where community members and health professionals, including maternal and child health staff have expressed nothing but the highest praise for the work of the organisation.

When threatened or actual withdrawal of financial, material and emotional support from a pregnant woman is seen as ‘normal’, and genuine offers of support are seen as ideological, where do women turn when their much wanted children begin to become a ‘choice’?

Threats of, and actual withdrawal of support is an insidious and cruel act which preys on women’s fears at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.  The lack of supportive services for women and the removal of services when they are provided is an ideological act of the most insidious kind for women.

With evidence of harm from abortion growing as more and more research is undertaken, abortion advocates continue to cry foul when such evidence is presented to women.  Surely if abortion advocates are truly concerned with choice, they must insist that these choices are fully informed.  If they are truly concerned about women, they must insist that women have every supportive service they need so that they can choose to continue a pregnancy.  Otherwise they are simply marketers for an abortion industry that has already done a great job of ensuring that their services are ‘sold’ at every outlet, including our universities.

 

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