Only You Can Write Your Story:
What to Do if Someone Pressures You to Abort
Who’s Doing the Writing?
If you’re reading this, you might be feeling overwhelmed right now. Maybe you turned a page in your story and hit a chapter you weren’t expecting, and now it feels like someone else grabbed the pen and started writing a story you weren’t ready for and don’t like. Or maybe you’ve always felt like someone else was making those decisions while all you could do was watch.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Pay attention because this statement is very important: Only YOU can write YOUR story. Particularly when it comes to decisions about your health and your baby’s future, YOU are the one in control.
When people talk about freedom of choice, they usually mean the freedom to choose an abortion. But did you know you also have the freedom to choose life? No matter what anyone says, no one can force you to get an abortion against your will. No matter how much influence the baby’s father, your parents, or anyone else may have in your life, they cannot make you get an abortion. And if they try to, they’re actually breaking the law.
Sadly, thousands of women feel coerced into abortion. In the United States, studies have shown 64% of women who get abortions report some kind of pressure to do so. This pressure can come from several different sources:
- Parents. Sometimes a woman’s own parents encourage her to get an abortion, either for the sake of secrecy or any number of other concerns. The parents’ influence can be particularly powerful, especially for a minor facing an unplanned pregnancy.
- The father. A significant other can wield a great deal of influence both directly and indirectly. There have even been cases in which a man pressures a woman to have an abortion after pressuring her to get pregnant in the first place. More commonly, the father’s influence comes through his absence when an expectant mother needs support.
- A human trafficker. Often when a woman has been manipulated or forced into sex work, those responsible will also force her to get an abortion in order to maintain secrecy and keep the woman working.
All cases like these are egregious, and the pressures women receive can include threats of violence, abandonment, or lack of financial support.
If someone is placing this kind of pressure on you, there are some things you should know:
- YOU are the one with final say on medical care for you and your baby.
- Coerced abortion is illegal. No one–not a parent, guardian, spouse, significant other, employer, or anyone else–has a right to make that decision for you.
- Help is available. Below are some resources you can access right now.
What You Can Do…
If someone is pressuring you:
Organizations like the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) have resources for women facing undue pressure from others to get an abortion. They’ll help you understand your legal rights and can even send letters on your behalf to anyone who may be trying to force you into this life-altering decision.
If the father feels lost:
Many crisis pregnancy centers offer counseling and resources for men as well as women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. You can also point him to the National Fatherhood Initiative, which offers training and resources to fathers.
If you think you might be experiencing abuse or human trafficking:
If you are in danger, call 911. If you are safe right now, you can read about the signs of abuse here and reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Legal Help Available:
If you need legal support contact the Justice Foundation.
Take Back the Pen!
No matter what kind of pressure you may be facing, you have a choice. Staff at [NAME OF CLINIC] are available to help you through this difficult time and to connect you with the best medical information and support available. We can help you take back the pen and start writing your own story again. It might not be the story you always expected, but once you’re writing it, you can make the ending better than you imagined.
- National Fatherhood Initiative: http://www.fatherhood.org
- NIFLA: https://nifla.org/
- “Statistics on Coerced Abortions.” Clinic Quotes. https://clinicquotes.com/statistics-on-coerced-abortions/
- Dwoskin, Elizabeth. “Coerced Abortions: A New Study Shows They’re Common.” The Daily Beast. July 14, 2017. https://www.thedailybeast.com/coerced-abortions-a-new-study-shows-theyre-common
- Coleman, Priscilla K. et al. “Women Who Suffered Emotionally from Abortion: A Qualitative Synthesis of Their Experiences.” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Volume 22 Number 4 (Winter 2017). https://www.jpands.org/vol22no4/coleman.pdf
- “How to Recognize the Signs of Mental and Emotional Abuse.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/signs-of-mental-abuse?c=172587605594#what-to-do
- “Warning Signs of Abuse.” Women’s Advocates. https://www.wadvocates.org/find-help/about-domestic-violence/warning-signs-of-abuse/
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
- “Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim.” U.S. Dept. of State website: https://www.state.gov/identify-and-assist-a-trafficking-victim/
Primary keywords: coerced abortion
Secondary keywords: pressure to abort, reproductive control, abuse, human trafficking
Title Tag: Only You Can Write Your Story: What to Do if Someone Pressures You to Abort
Meta description: Coerced abortion is illegal. If someone is pressuring you, there are things you can do to take back control of your medical choices, and resources to help.