Alexandria R. Washington

Abortion Coercion

Abortion coercion causes too many women serious trauma and regret over the decisions made by other people. We need to take action and establish laws preventing this from continuing. This is a stance we can all get behind to protect many individuals in our society. If we're giving women the choice, shouldn't it be THEIR choice?

To the next president of the United States,

How many times do we have to watch confused women with hormones to spare, jump into abortion with no idea who to believe; the clinics, the father, or the family? How many women need to suffer this intense pressure from the pro-choice and pro-life sides before we realize it’s not fair to them? Forget the hypothetical circumstances behind this life-changing decision for a moment, and realize the next time a young woman gets pregnant, she’ll have to live with her decision forever. If a woman who's only three weeks into her pregnancy already has almost 20% higher hormone levels along with all of the trying symptoms of pregnancy, wouldn't you agree that woman needs support and comfort? But does she get this? No. Instead of the reassurance she needs, society pulls her apart and decides for her. For example, one article tells us “The pressure can be intense, involving the threat of violence, abandonment, shunning, and expulsion from the home. It might just be a barrage of yelling and screaming.” (Scandlen). Abortion coercion isn’t just a byproduct of being irresponsible. It’s unnecessary judgment, it’s blackmail, and in the end, it only hurts the mother. As the president, regardless of what side you’re on, please protect women from the severe mental health issues that could ensue from an uninformed decision. We need to place laws against abortion coercion and ultimately, for clinics to provide all of the information necessary that women need to feel confident in their decision.

One 18-year-old's story from South Carolina was published that reflects the same concepts too many women have had to face. Written off as just another statistic, people don’t recognize just how strongly this can affect an individual. Her reputation wasn’t a troublesome one; she was respected for being so hard-working and a responsible student. She was trusted and supported by her loved ones and caring boyfriend. Her pregnancy altered her entire support system and life. The road to deciding is complex and often becomes more so when the woman’s desires are stifled by the desires of others, shown by her story: “While I was perfectly fine giving birth and putting the child up for adoption, I didn’t know whether my parents or boyfriend would be OK with that,…, My parents got so angry at me; they kicked me out of the house. I turned to my boyfriend,… , Although I went to live with my boyfriend, he said I needed to get an abortion,…, I didn’t want to, but he insisted. At this point, I had practically no one left. Miserable and scared, I went to an abortion clinic…, When I told my parents, they yelled at me, told me I was going to hell, and disowned me,…, The pain of losing my baby feels like rabid dogs tearing away at me. I murdered my own child. Like knives stabbing me. Every. Single. Day. I still haven’t been able to talk to my parents,…, And while all the “pro-abortion” people say that life begins at birth, it is a true and undisputed scientific fact that life begins at conception…, My want to not be pregnant did not outweigh the right for a child to live. I could’ve just gone the adoption route.” ("Abortion Story: South Carolina"). With pressure from so many people, this woman’s boyfriend made the decision to abort her child and in the process, she lost her family, hope, and developed a sense of self-loathing. She is only one of several women to go through the same experience and come out with the biggest baggage she’ll have to carry for the rest of her life. She was open to adoption, but felt she only had this option or abortion, and the determining factor was how others were inconvenienced, even at the expense of her health. We need to take a stand against this abuse, because she’s not the only one who felt so helpless and vulnerable.

The American Psychological Task Force on Abortion and Mental Health found that of women who had abortions, “67% received no counseling beforehand, and 79% were not informed about alternatives. Over 80% said they were not given enough information to make an informed choice.” When making such an important decision, it would be crucial to be positive you’re making the right decision for you, not for anyone else. Of course, the child should be in good care, but if you’re not in the position to provide that care, the least you could have is some choice in the matter. It makes one wonder why the people entitling themselves “pro-choice” are only offering one choice. When a vulnerable, scared woman who’s been told by her loved ones to see a clinic, why doesn’t the clinic empathize with her? Why doesn’t its members guide her into finding what’s best for her? The only explanation is that they’re more concerned with the number of abortions they deliver than the woman’s emotional state. They certainly have increased that number at a rapid growth rate, but at what cost? No matter what side you’re on, you should agree if women do get abortions, they should have the choice. Nobody else should get to dictate their well-being over whatever complaints they have. If you, the president of the United States, are pro-choice, stand up for your side. Make sure women aren’t suffering, because they didn’t have the choice. If you’re pro-life, take into account how many more children would be in the world if women were exposed to their alternatives, and how many more of these mothers wouldn’t be suffering the way they are today.

How many women have actually been coerced into abortion? In one reliable study, it was reported that “In a national study of women, 64% of those who aborted felt pressured to do so by others. This pressure can become violent. 65% suffered symptoms of trauma. In the year following an abortion, suicide rates are 6-7 times higher” (Scandlen). 700,000 abortions occur annually in America as of 2016, and if 64% felt pressured, this means 448,000 abortions were decided by people who felt they should judge whether her child should be allowed to live, deciding then how the mother would be left to question her choice and grieve over the options she could’ve instead chosen, but wait- she most likely never knew about them. More and more people are waking up to this issue. According to American United for Life, we are told that “This year alone, at least 11 states have considered abortion bills that deal with coercion.” The problem isn’t going to magically disappear. We need to take action. One or two abortions are happening every minute in America, and we shouldn’t stand to wait a minute longer with so many people in the world being mentally scarred by this.

There’s been more than one study done on how many women regret abortions, however. One was reported about in the Time Magazine, giving us the statistic that “95% of women who have had abortions do not regret the decision.” If this is reliable data, then abortion coercion is the smallest of our country's problems. So, what factors determine the reliability of the data? The participation rate and equally proportionate representation should be a given, so let’s test these. “62.5% of women refused to participate in the study at first request, and another 15% dropped out before or during the baseline interview, yielding only a 31.9% participation rate at baseline,…, the reason for non-participation seemed to be a sense of guilt and remorse that they did not wish to discuss. An answer often given was ‘Do not want to talk about it. I just want to forget.’" ("Women Don’t Regret Abortions"). To state that this would be in any way representative of our nation is ludicrous, having almost 70% of women refuse to speak of it for the obvious reason that they wish it hadn’t happened. Also, of the women who did participate, on top of having 15% opt out of the interviews, another 31% dropped out of the three-year follow-up period. This shows that even women who didn’t experience negative reactions were too stressed about the topic to talk about it. Now, having the small amount of women who were able to give feedback, you’d expect at least they would reflect a general background representing one part of our nation. Yet, the ratio of women who had their abortions near the end of the second trimester to the number of women who did in their first was almost 2 to 1, and the $50 offered for completing interviews steered women in a bad financial state towards the cause. It is already easy to conclude that this case, similar to many other pro-choice ones aiming for more clients, is unreliable and cannot be accepted as the truth. The author of this case then revealed that of the group (averaged age of 25), 62% were raising children. For women pursuing abortions, is this not a very high number? The pro-choice side needs to start reiterating why they first started offering these services and stop focusing on how abortion is helping the world, because that’s not an issue. Both sides have their pros and cons, but if these sides can’t recognize even one disadvantage of their own side, they can’t grow in a positive direction. We can start with an issue that should be recognized and agreed on in both sides.

Abortion is one of the most controversial topics in our nation that isn’t going to come to a rest unless we can start working together on it. Even then, it’s so wide-spread, there will always be debates. As long as we can start moving forward and learn to compromise, with your help and approval, little by little we can find a way to make America even stronger. Our nation will be one we can be proud of, one that’s mature enough to set aside our differences for the greater good and possibly influence nations all over to step up for their own safety. These laws aren’t so big as to solve all of our problems, but the values we can learn from them could change our nation’s foundation if we begin applying them. So, I beg of you, Mr. or Mrs. President, to lead our nation in a better direction, and allow us to grow, starting with something as simple as passing a bill against abortion coercion, saving hundreds of thousands of families some pain in the process.

Thank you,

Alexandria R. 

West Seattle High School

3rd Period LA9H

Hopkins Honors Intro to Literature & Composition

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