Coercion a factor in choice to abort

by Bernard Moran, Voice for Life National President

Boy meets girl and one thing leads to another. It happens all the time in Gisborne and the surrounding districts. The guy is as happy as can be, enjoying the pleasures of married life, but without the responsibilities.

Then one day his girlfriend says those awful words which send him into an absolute funk: “I’ve missed my period. I think I’m pregnant.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen — they were having such a good time. But condoms can break, or she forgot to take the pill; whatever the reason, she is now unexpectedly pregnant.

Some guys man up and take responsibility for helping their girlfriend through the pregnancy, but it is the others that concern us here. They react with an urge to run away, or worse, order their girlfriend to: “Deal with it, or else it’s over with us.”

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Many years ago, there was a national petition to repeal the abortion laws and one day a young engineer turned up at my worksite collecting signatures.

I asked him why he was doing this and he looked at me as if addressing an idiot. “Well, if they repeal the law and I get a girl pregnant, she can easily get rid of it!” Of course, how could I be so stupid.

I presumed he was a reader of Playboy magazine and had absorbed its philosophy as dreamed up by publisher Hugh Hefner. Playboys drove fast cars, had loads of women and could fix great cocktails in their pads.

Hefner was an avid supporter of abortion and channelled big money through the Playboy Foundation to abortion rights groups. Why? Well you wouldn’t be much of a playboy trundling toddlers around playgrounds.

I’ve recently been talking to women involved in post-abortion counselling and they tell me a common theme in discussions with clients was the implicit coercion from boyfriends and sometimes husbands as I described earlier.

The woman or girl didn’t want to lose her man and was fearful that if she didn’t go through with the abortion, he would leave. In a panic, feeling there was no other support, or choice, she reluctantly went ahead.

Afterwards, there can be a feeling of bitter resentment and the relationship ends anyway. That is what happened with the women being counselled.

David Reardon, an American psychologist, is an expert on post-abortion healing who has written several books. He estimates that around 60 percent of abortions involve some form of coercion. It may be the girl’s mother, or sisters, or the boyfriend applying the pressure, dressed up as the sensible option.

Another crucial factor is that in the first trimester (12 weeks) the woman is going through considerable hormonal changes which affect her emotional state. Our first female president was Dr Diana Mason who cared for over 15,000 single mothers through her career in Wellington.

She insisted that this emotional roller coaster was a natural biological process in early pregnancy which would inevitably be replaced by a sense of wellbeing and love for the growing baby, despite the mother’s single status.

Dr Mason was scathing about the “medical irresponsibility” of doctors who wrote out referrals for abortions without carrying out an in-depth examination of the woman’s health record and her circumstances, particularly if there was possible coercion involved.

Abortions are usually performed on Friday at Hastings Hospital. For the past three years a small group of our members (varying from three to five) stand silently across from the gate with signs offering help to those going for their appointment.

Some women stop to talk and the result has been 29 babies known to be saved. Their mothers just needed someone to talk to and offer support, so they could make a true choice.

If you are an unexpected pregnancy, find people you can talk to here:

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