Even when a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy has strong personal and family relationships, her perceptions of what others might think or say can still carry a lot of weight in her decision.
Denise Beck, from the Choices medical pregnancy center, says that recent clients who ultimately chose to visit an abortion clinic were either fearful of disappointing parents, or were unwilling to be connected to the baby’s father for the rest of their lives.
This was particularly true in Della’s* situation. Money was a concern, but it was pressure from her boyfriend, combined with the prospect of letting down her parents, that ultimately pushed Della toward abortion.
“I didn’t have the financial ability to support myself or a baby,” she says, “but that wasn’t the deciding factor – there is plenty of assistance for single moms.”
Although Della’s life is in a much better place today, she does not intend to share her past with her family.
“My family will never know what I went through,” she says, “because even now I know that they would look at me through eyes of disappointment and judgement.”
Unfortunately, abortion is often considered the path of least resistance for young women like Della. Whether it’s parents concerned about the family’s reputation, a married man who’s having an affair, or an uncommitted boyfriend, all have an interest in making the “problem” of an unplanned pregnancy go away. In many cases, these were the people who helped pay for the abortion that they wanted the woman to have.
In a video expressing regret for the abortion she had as a teen, Carrie Gordon Earll, vice president for government and public policy at Focus on the Family, spoke to the lack of freedom women experience in these situations.
“The world is not a better place because of abortion,” Earll says. “It’s created a world where you’re almost expected to abort if you’re pregnant at an inopportune time. And it’s created a society in which it’s easier to push women to have an abortion rather than accommodate them and their needs as mothers.
“Abortion feels like your only choice if you want to keep your place in school or the workforce. That’s not empowerment for women … that’s bondage.”
* Not her real name
Jenny Knowles and her husband are adoptive parents to two sisters through foster care.