Forced abortions: What’s a woman to do?
If you don’t think forced abortions happen here in the United States, think again. They do. And they may be happening right in your neighborhood. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s frightening to realize that women and girls are being forced to kill their children whether they want to or not. But it’s true.
This sounds like something that happens in China or India or other controlling nations. But here, in the U.S., it’s not the government or an anti-woman culture that forces abortions. It’s the people closest to women – their parents, their boyfriends, their husbands.
Here’s the bottom line: we have to know where to send women for help when they tell us they’re being forced to abort. Honestly, I’d never had to deal with a situation like this until very recently. After some good advice from friends and fellow attorneys, I’d like to share a few steps of action we should all be aware of.
We must be both willing and ready to help women and young girls resist forced abortions. And if you’re a woman who’s facing a forced abortion herself, keep reading! There is help for you! You can take these steps of action on your own behalf or get a friend or family member you trust, an attorney, or a woman from a local pregnancy center to help you.
1) Find out the details, as much as possible. There are legal organizations – Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Law Center, for example – that can take legal action to help women in these situations. But often, these situations are fast-paced, and action must be taken immediately. Any information you can gain from the woman is vital.
Is she a minor? What position are her parents taking? What city and state does she live in? If an abortion has been scheduled for her, where and when is it? What is her contact information, and if she’s a minor, the contact information of her parents? What’s the name and address of the person who’s trying to force her to have the abortion? How, exactly, is she being forced – threats of homelessness, actual physical force, abuse, etc.? Such information can help legal organizations or attorneys file restraining orders on her behalf, contact law enforcement when necessary, or send a letter to the clinic letting them know that any abortion on this woman is forced, against her will, and illegal.
2) Contact legal organizations. If you’re unsure how to proceed, get the advice of experts! Both Alliance Defending Freedom (800-835-5233) and the Thomas More Law Center (734-827-2001) are there to help women in these situations. ADF has an ever-growing network of attorneys throughout the nation who are ready to help women in their own cities. Thomas More also has a network of attorneys. And all of these attorneys work for free! Make a phone call, and get expert advice.
3) Take the situation very seriously. It is 100% illegal to force a woman or a girl to get an abortion. No one, no matter who he or she is, is allowed to make this decision for her. Threats of force must be taken seriously. Encourage the woman to call the police, especially if a minor is being kicked out of her home, if any force is being threatened, or if someone is threatening to drive her to an abortion clinic against her will (basically a form of kidnapping). You can also call the police on her behalf, but it is best to have details when you do this (i.e., her name, address, what’s happening, etc.).
4) Direct the woman to hotlines and pregnancy centers. There are hotlines designed for women in these situations. For example, both Pregnancy Line (866-889-6626) and this crisis pregnancy number 800-395-HELP will give women advice and information and direct them to pregnancy centers in their area that can provide the practical help they need. Some women will need or want to see a free ultrasound (offered by many pregnancy centers) to help strengthen their resolve to fight for their babies. And some women just need a person to turn to with practical help and good advice – someone who’s encountered a situation like theirs before. There is also a domestic violence hotline for women who are in an abusive situation: 1-800-799-7233. Finally, you can locate a pregnancy center for the woman yourself by searching Google or Bing for a pregnancy resource center in her city.
5) Be there for her, the whole time. If a woman is facing a potential forced abortion, the last thing she needs is to be left alone. Ask what you can do to help, and take action on her behalf when necessary. Provide her with as much info as she needs, and be available to help her access it. Women in forced abortion situations need to be encouraged to reach out to friends, family, or others in their area who can help them. They are not alone, they can be strong enough to get through this, and they need to be told this! They may feel helpless, but their children are also extremely helpless, and they are the only ones who can make the final decision to stop an abortion. Be strong for them, and encourage them to be strong.
6) Know a woman’s rights, even in an abortion clinic. It is illegal for any abortion clinic or hospital to perform an abortion on a woman who has not personally consented. If a woman is being forced to have an abortion against her will, she needs to inform the clinic or hospital of this. She should tell a nurse or a counselor. She needs to make it clear that she does not want this abortion, she is being forced, and she needs help to get out of there. Unfortunately, some abortion clinics perform abortions anyway and do not follow the law. Some try to talk vulnerable women into consenting to an abortion. This is very wrong, but it’s also why we don’t want these women to end up at the abortion clinics at all.
One of my friends summed it up well:
You cannot be forced to have an abortion. It is against the law. If someone starts taking you to an abortion clinic against your will, you can call 911. This is kidnapping.
You are in such a difficult situation. You are a mother now, forever, and it’s up to you to protect your child. I know that is probably mind-blowing, but it is the truth.
I promise you: there is help. You do not have to abort your baby, and you don’t have to go through this alone.