Talking to Abortion-Minded Women
My experiences, invitation
For the past several years, I have made myself available to talk to women who are considering abortion, have had an abortion, or who need help. There is a great need for people to be available and willing to do this, and I hope to inform people so that they can participate or support in some way.
I first started studying the abortion question in 1970. I read everything I could get my hands on. After awhile, I was getting reading material, periodicals, for example, from around the world. In 1972, another woman and I set out to make a civil rights organization, and that organization still exists today and is thriving. More about that in another Lens.
But this gave me the background so that when I became active on the internet, it was a natural thing for me to do. I have found it very rewarding.
A lot of people concentrate on the fate of the baby in the abortion decision. I care about this very much, but my focus is on what happens to the women. I can't say my experience is typical, but certainly it reflects what happens when a woman has questions and concerns, and isn't comfortable with the idea of getting an abortion.
If you are someone who is compassionate toward women, and who realizes what an assault abortion is on women, and is willing to learn how to help, I invite you to get involved.
(Photo credit Pat Goltz)
Women who are being coerced
Most women who end up having an abortion don't want one
It has been shown that nearly 2/3 of the women who get abortions never wanted one in the first place. So why do they end up getting an abortion? There are two things that lead such a woman to have an abortion. The first is coercion, and the second is circumstances.
Coercion comes from boyfriends and husbands, the father of the child. It comes from parents. Sometimes it comes from employers or schools. It can be as subtle as an emotional withdrawal at a time when a woman needs love the most. Or it can be as bold as threatening a woman's life or her life circumstances. For example, parents can tell or imply that if their daughter becomes pregnant (and refuses to have an abortion), they will kick her out of the house. She will then be thrown into the street. A lot of women who come to me think their parents will do this, and they are afraid. Quite often, they would like to prevent their parents from ever finding out they were pregnant in the first place. I tell them this may not be a very good idea, simply because if they have a complication (and complications are far more common than most people are aware), their parents will find out. Sometimes parents find out because they're asked to come down and identify their daughter's body. I tell them that having an abortion to conceal their pregnancy is never a good idea.
Abortion complications are no respecter of persons. It doesn't matter how sure a woman is that she wants an abortion. It can still kill her or leave her severely disabled.
Sometimes it's the boyfriend who threatens to kick her out of the house. They may be living together. We know that the leading cause of death for pregnant women is homicide. Some boyfriends will actually kill a woman for refusing to get an abortion. A woman may be aware of this possibility, especially if the relationship has been physically abusive.
Sometimes the coercion comes from the woman's employer. Remember the case of Hunter Tylo? She was a star in The Bold and the Beautiful, a soap opera. She became pregnant. The script writers didn't want to write her pregnancy into the script. So her employer ordered her to get an abortion. She refused, and sued. She won. There are plenty of women who are faced with a similar circumstance, but simply cannot find the means to defend their own right to choose something else. I think it is pretty well known that if you are a stewardess, you must forget about your job if you become pregnant.
Coercion can also come in the form of constant badgering. It could be the woman's parents or the boyfriend or husband. A woman will say she won't get an abortion, but they just won't let her have peace about it. I tell women, when this starts, just state that you have decided, you aren't going to have an abortion, and then leave the room. I tell them, if they follow you, leave again, and tell them you are leaving the room and they are not to follow you. It may take a long time, but if a woman is resolute, eventually the badgering will stop. There are then three possibilities. The father may leave (or the parents may kick her out), he may threaten violence, or he may come to accept her decision. Plenty of parents will simply try to coerce their daughter into going with them to the abortionist. Although it rarely rises to this level, there is one case that became well known where a woman's mother took her to the abortion facility at gunpoint. Remarkably, the people at the facility not only refused to do an abortion on her, but they reported the mother, who was arrested. But most of the time, parents can get their daughter to go and cooperate, even though she doesn't want an abortion at all. The motivation is usually pride. They don't want the world to know they didn't raise their daughter right. If the motivation is because they think she can't handle a baby, or they don't have the resources, they'll usually try to help. I heard from a woman just the other day whose mother was adamant. She was totally upset, and didn't know what to do. I gave her as much encouragement as I could and pointed her to resources. The situation isn't resolved yet, but she feels hope.
If you are a parent, don't do this to your daughter. It is one of the most cruel things you could ever do to her, and it could very well alienate her completely, sometimes forever. Abortion is a violent invasion of her body, mind, and spirit. There are worse things than admitting that your daughter didn't abide by your teachings, and lots of parents face this. I have. Young ladies have a mind of their own. They may not keep your teachings when they are young, but they will return to them later. Do the right thing and protect your daughter. In the long run, you will be glad you did.
What about circumstances? Most often this is a situation where a woman simply feels she doesn't have the resources to have a baby. I have forgotten how many times a woman told me, if the circumstances were different, I'd have this baby. We all know what kind of circumstances would influence a woman this way. Usually it's financial. The woman isn't making enough money, or her apartment isn't adequate, or she can't afford medical care, or any one of a dozen other reasons all related to lack of money. Or it could be the fear that a woman will be unable to finish her education and take care of a baby. I'll tell women, you are a lot stronger than you think. How do I know? Because I did it, and you can, too. I got my degree when I had four children, three of them preschoolers. It took me a little while longer, but that was because I wanted it that way. I was going to school half time, and I actually gave birth to my daughter in the middle of the semester. I chose to stay out for a week, and went back and aced my courses. Maybe a woman feels that raising a child at this time will interfere with her career plans. It doesn't have to. The situation calls for creativity, not violence. And I'll tell women, if you have an abortion, you may very well lose interest in achieving anything with your life. A lot of women do. So abortion is really no answer.
WomEn deserve better than abortion.— Feminists for Life
Talking with women who are sure they want an abortion
I can reasonably assume that if a woman who is sure she wants an abortion comes to me to talk about it, there has to be a little niggle in her mind someplace that is not giving her total peace about it. Otherwise, she would just go have an abortion and not say anything to anyone.
There are several possibilities. One is that the woman has heard abortion is dangerous, and she's afraid. She would like me to assure her that she will be safe. I have had a lot of women ask me where to get the safest and cheapest abortion. I'll tell women that if I give them that kind of information, I will be practicing medicine without a license, and I could get into a lot of trouble. I also tell them they are asking me to help them hurt themselves, and I am not going to do that. I tell her that she is right to be afraid, because abortion is dangerous and can kill her.
Another possibility is that a woman knows she is uncertain, and she is looking to me to tell her it will be OK. I tell women, find out everything you can about abortion, about the development of your baby, and every other issue. The more you know, the happier you will be with your decision. I tell her that I am not going to tell her getting an abortion is OK, because it isn't.
I will go into details about the risks. I have a fairly extensive background, and I can quote specifics with statistics. I can tell her the reason why it is dangerous, and what the consequences are likely to be.
This isn't an idle issue for me. Some of my closest friends have had abortions, and I am not aware of a single one who didn't have some kind of serious complication. One woman, who was, in fact, at the time, my best friend, had a son who was born prematurely, and he had to be hospitalized to save his life because he developed apnea. He was there for several weeks. Another woman was someone I had been friends with for decades. She had an abortion, but the abortionist failed to diagnose that she had a tubal pregnancy. The tube burst, and she had emergency surgery. She came so close to death she had an out of body experience. Another woman, actually a family member, was raped and had an abortion. Her personality totally changed. She became ugly and violent, and has been in and out of mental hospitals for years.
And then there is an occasional woman who is absolutely certain she wants an abortion. We may try to discourage it, but she will go ahead with it anyway. I wonder why a woman like that comes and talks to us, but she does. One such woman is someone I met because she came to talk to us. She had a second trimester abortion under general anesthesia. A few months later she became suicidal. Another woman and I stayed up all night writing messages to her over the internet to keep her from doing it. I was never so scared in all my life! She also asked us, was I a mother? Clearly she wanted to know that she had been one, even though she told us she never wanted to have a child. We assured her she was. We have kept in touch. Years later, one day she wrote to me, "One of the women where I work wants to get an abortion. PLEASE talk her out of it! My abortion ruined my life!"
Do you want to know why I do this? It's because of all these women. It's because I know they are out there, and they need my help.
Available at Amazon:
Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief After Abortion
by Melinda Tankard Reist
This book was edited by a woman from Australia, and includes the stories of women who experienced abortion. This inside look also gives insight, for anyone who wants to work with women.
Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault
by Makimaa, Sobie Reardon
Women who have been victimized by rape tell why they refused abortion, or how it hurt them if they had an abortion. One of the editors is the daughter of a rape victim.
The right to refuse
When is the last time you heard that a woman has a right to refuse abortion? Chances are, you've never heard that at all!
There is no legal right to refuse that I have been able to discover. In fact, I was once the victim of this lack of right. I was in the hospital with an emergency condition, and someone I didn't know came in and examined me. To make a long story short, he was an abortionist, but I didn't find this out until later. He did his darndest to terrify me into letting him operate on me. When I did find out, and when I learned that my baby was still alive, I experienced horrible nightmares. I won't describe them, even though I remember them vividly to this day, including what color everything was. This is why I know what women who have had abortions go through, from firsthand experience. Not every woman has nightmares, but many suffer from nightmares and other problems. This is why suicide is six times as common for a woman who had an abortion than for one who didn't. At that point, because of the mental anguish this man caused me, I wanted to sue. Well, I learned I wouldn't have a case because he hadn't operated. In other words, I really didn't have a legal right to refuse. If I had, I could have sued. Oh, you might say, but you did refuse. Yes, but it scares the dickens out of me to think how close I came to doing the unthinkable. It has reached the point where a woman can sometimes get away with refusing, and sometimes not. When that happens, it's no longer a right, it's a privilege.
To learn more about the right to refuse, visit Abortion Concern. This web site was developed by a woman who has experienced abortion. It is no longer on the internet; this link goes to the Wayback Machine. Visit it sparingly.
If we truly care about women, we need to enact legislation to protect a woman's right to refuse. Don't tell me you are pro-choice unless you support such legislation.
The truth is, most people who claim to be "pro-choice" really aren't. Their silence is deafening about the situation in China, where women are being physically forced to submit to abortion. Can that happen here? Sure it can! And it does. It's just not as common. But if we don't put a stop to it, it will be. It is already known that women of color are targeted. Most of them are less in favor of abortion than white women, but they get far more abortions. This is because one of the goals of the original leaders was to eliminate the "unfit," and they consider women of color "unfit."
What about rape victims?
Most people who say they are pro-life (against abortion) think we should make an exception for rape and incest victims. They think that if a woman doesn't choose the act that led to pregnancy, she shouldn't be penalized.
There are a lot of things in life that aren't fair. When a woman is victimized, that's not fair. When she harms her child, that's not fair, either.
A lot of people think, well, of COURSE a rape victim will want an abortion. Not necessarily. Even with the expectations of society that a woman will get an abortion, 72% don't. If we gave women the kind of support they truly deserve, how many of the others would not get an abortion? Nobody knows.
We need to encourage women to report rapes promptly. The only way to stop rape is to punish rapists. If a woman reports rape promptly, she will receive treatment. Will that prevent pregnancy? It might. Will it cause a very early abortion? It might. That troubles me. But that said, I know that immediate treatment is better than waiting. If a woman waits, has she tacitly consented to pregnancy? Maybe so. But let's put all those considerations aside.
A rape victim has been violated. Why would any woman want to be violated a second time, this time with an abortion? A lot of women don't realize how violent abortion really is until they've had one. A woman who has been raped is a victim. A woman who is raped and then has an abortion is an aggressor. A lot of women know this, and that's why they don't want an abortion. They can't stop the evil, but they can accept that something good can come from it.
What about incest? Incest is really a special form of rape. It has the added concern that the baby will have a defect. Actually defects from incest are relatively rare, but it doesn't suit the agenda of people who want to promote abortion to admit this. Most incest victims want the incest to stop. Most of them want to stay pregnant so the incest becomes known so that people will put a stop to it. This is probably the worst case scenario of parents forcing abortion. Lots of incest perpetrators will physically take their victims for abortion to hide the evidence so they can keep on victimizing the woman.
We should develop a caring society that will treat a rape victim with respect instead of shoving her into a decision she might never have ever made in her lifetime if she hadn't been raped. She may not even believe in abortion. Let's protect her right to refuse.
Rapists love it when their victims get abortions. It destroys most of the evidence they raped the woman.
We really have a choice here. Either we will protect a woman's right to refuse abortion, or we will protect rapists. Which will it be? Instead of making bearing a child conceived in rape unthinkable, let's make RAPE unthinkable. Making abortion easy has never stopped one rape. I'm not interested in violating rape victims a second time. I'm interested in stopping rape.
Refuse to choose.— Feminists for Life
I am especially soliciting your input, because there is much more that can be said about this topic. I definitely don't know all the answers, and I welcome hearing about other people's experiences.
© 2009 Pat Goltz