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Tag: abortion coercion (Page 2 of 2)

Media Release: A response to ‘Call for Free Abortions’

Call for free abortions as needy women priced out of procedure’ says the headline, with women’s health advocates stating that, ‘Growing numbers of women in desperate financial straits cannot afford abortions.’ (Sydney Morning Herald, August 6)

With up to 75% of abortion seeking women stating financial constraints as a reason they are unable to continue their pregnancies, one has to wonder what these ‘women’s advocates’ are doing to ensure that no woman has an unwanted abortion when financial constraints are a primary factor.

The cases put forward in this article of the woman with 5 children and a domestic violence issue, a homeless mother and a mother with children in foster care seem on the surface to be desperate cases for abortion.   However, these cases only demonstrate how miserably we are failing to support women and children out of their dire circumstances by offering them surgical solutions to their social problems. This kind of problem provides abortions for the pregnant, homeless women, instead of housing and financial support.

The suggestion by Catherine White that the continuation of unplanned pregnancies places a burden on child protection and welfare services is without evidence, and is a not too cleverly disguised opinion that women from lower socioeconomic circumstances should not be offered the support they need to bring their children into the world. Her statement that women adversely suffer mental health issues if they give birth following an unplanned pregnancy is also without substantiation. In fact, the opposite is true with international evidence demonstrating that up to 20% of women experience serious and prolonged mental health problems after abortion, creating an unnecessary burden on our economy, not to mention the lives of women themselves and their families.

The fact is that about half of all pregnancies are unintended, and about half of these lead to abortion, with more than 95% of those being undertaken for psychosocial reasons.  These reasons are often complex and often related to a woman’s economic situation, including worry about employment, education, housing and withdrawal of support from partners and family.  Until we have a system where a woman’s economic and social needs can be adequately addressed and remedied, we cannot continue to espouse abortion as an actual choice.

When a woman is forced to choose between her education and having her baby, her employment and having her baby or her boyfriend/partner/husband and having her baby this is not choice, it is coercion. When services fail to demonstrate their willingness to meet a woman’s social and economic needs so that she feels able to choose to continue her pregnancy, they are contributing to this coercion.

Instead of more discussion about increasing access to abortion, particularly medical abortion with its much higher risk of adverse effects, we need to be discussing the real reasons why women have abortions and offering real solutions. Only then can we say that real choice exists.

Mental health risks

Latest research confirms links between abortion and increased mental health problems in women.

According to a new study published in the highly regarded British Journal of Psychiatry, women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems.   This study was a meta-analysis of 22 studies published between 1995 and 2009 involving almost 900,000 women across six countries.    Research which combines and examines the results of a number of other methodologically sound studies are far more reliable than any single study alone because of the wealth of data available.

The results of these combined studies reveal higher rates of anxiety related disorders (34%), depression (37%), alcohol use/abuse (110%), marijuana use (230%), and higher rates of suicidal behaviour (155%).

When comparing women who had abortions with women who delivered after an unintended pregnancy, those having abortions had an overall increased risk of 55% for experiencing any mental health problem.

The study was carried out by Dr Priscilla Coleman, a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  Dr Coleman is one of the foremost researchers in the field of abortion and mental health.

Of particular interest is the finding that almost 10% of the incidence of all mental health problems in the community has been shown to be directly attributable to abortion.   Given the millions of dollars expended on mental health initiatives in this country, this figure is very significant and of economic concern.

If the medical community apply the same evidence based approach to the provision of abortion services as any other medical or surgical service, this information should be incorporated into the practise of informed consent processes in order for women to make fully informed health care decisions.

Real Choices Australia believes that abortion is inherently harmful to women.  More than 94% of women considering abortion do so in the absence of real choice.   They also do so in the absence of full disclosure of all the potential negative outcomes.   Abortion is coercive when it is presented as the only option to a woman’s circumstances. Without real and adequate support to continue a pregnancy, there is no choice.

Coleman, P. (2011) Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009.   The British Journal of Psychiatry 199, 180-186.

Choice or coercion?

It is sad that the rhetoric of choice is often used to disguise what could more easily be described as very coercive circumstances for women. These stories below from a Madison Magazine article in October 2009.

Samantha didn’t want to be a single parent and had an abortion at 34

“When I had an abortion, I had only been in my relationship for five months and my partner didn’t feel we were ready to have a child. I didn’t feel like I had the right to force him against his will. I only want to bring a baby into the world if the child is wanted and in a happy home and I wasn’t confident I wouldn’t end up a single mother. On the day of the abortion, I was shaky and teary, but once it was over, I tried to get on with life as if nothing had happened – but three weeks later I started crying when I saw nappy ads or babies in prams.

I felt betrayed by my partner because he didn’t want to have the baby with me. Over the next six months, I cried and screamed at him. Even though he tried to support me through it, our relationship became very shaky. I’m still strongly pro-choice, but feel we need to do more to warn women you don’t just walk in, have an abortion, walk out and move on.”

Anne had an abortion at 35

‘I used to think abortions happened to other people, not grown up women like me. Except that they do. I was 35 and childless when I met a dishy divorcee just after I’d left my short lived marriage. It still stuns me I slept with him on our second date. We didn’t use condoms (at his request) and to my immortal self reproach, I got pregnant.

When I told him, he went into nuclear meltdown, shouting he wasn’t ready to be a father. I laid on the bathroom floor feeling petrified. My life was a mess, and although termination never entered my mind until then, I didn’t fight to have this child.

Two days later, I had an abortion. I was so shocked I didn’t even cry. Two months later, we broke up. Unbelievably, he later told me he wanted to have another go at our relationship and try for another baby. The pain I’d buried bubbled up. I would have had the child if he wanted to, but it was far too late.”

The above stories, are examples that the pro-abortion lobby use to justify the need for legal accessible abortion services. Why don’t we lobby for raising the responsibility and compassion of men? Why do they not see what I see in these stories. women subject to the whim, and violence of men? Why should women be forced to choose abortion, because they don’t wish to force parenthood on an unwilling partner, or don’t have supports?

Is that really the best kind of ‘choice’ our society has to offer women?

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