Questionable assertions

Abortion is safe

Health and government organisations talk about abortion as a completely routine, safe medical procedure and any attempt to counter this is dismissed as bias on ideological/religious grounds. In fact, this is itself official propaganda of the worst sort – because the people who issue it really believe it and because it is so widespread. How is a woman to make an informed choice amid all this misinformation, in which details about the negative effects of abortion are suppressed because they are not politically correct? To get a truer picture of how safe abortion is, visit a post-abortion support forum and read the many posts from women suffering depression, grief, guilt, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and so on.

Women either want or do not want a pregnancy

In fact, a woman’s relationship to a pregnancy, whether planned or not, is infinitely more complex than that. As soon as the first cells start proliferating, the natural bonding mechanisms are set into motion. Women are ambivalent about their feelings and fear and uncertainty arise even in planned pregnancies, particularly in the first trimester. A woman who faces unexpected pregnancy is usually in deep conflict and faced with often overwhelming conflicting pressures. Abortion may seem like the resolution to that conflict but the inner debate is not removed with the removal of the pregnancy. Many women continue to question whether they did the right thing after an abortion, with no more opportunity to decide on the best thing to do.

Abortion is a woman’s right to choose

We could talk meaningfully about choice in terms of abortion if the options – terminating the pregnancy and keeping the child – were equally supported. They are not. Our strong belief is that if women were supported in pregnancy, above all by partners but also by family and (although this may be too utopian) society itself, a great proportion of the abortions that now take place would not. This means that the right of the woman to choose to keep her baby is undermined and ignored. Putting women, and men, into a situation in which they have to routinely choose whether or not to put an end to a pregnancy by weighing up competing interests in her life is cruel and inhuman.

Abortion is an act of self-affirmation on the part of the woman

Precise figures cannot exist but it has been estimated that around 60% of women undergoing abortion have been coerced and pressurised by others.

Women have abortions because they reject and do not want the child

The priority women make of their offspring may be more true in the abortion context than it seems. Many women have abortions as desperate acts of love for their unborn children. Interestingly, this comment, famous in the abortion debate, was made by a pro-choice advocate, Professor Catharine Mackinnon. We have come to believe that this kind of love is ultimately a false and self-destructive one that adds a further brick in the wall of abortion’s tragic illusion.

Women want abortion

Some women may want it but many say things like “I would never have an abortion but I think other women should have the choice.” Some men certainly want abortion, for it allows them to avoid responsibility; it is surprisingly easy for men to coerce partners into abortion. Abortion providers certainly want it for it is a profitable business.

Abortion will return you to your pre-pregnancy state

This is perhaps the most dangerous and the most pervasive myth of all and the one on which the abortion industry thrives. Who cannot understand that, in difficult circumstances, a woman and/or her partner decide that it would be better not to be pregnant? Such a decision seems reasonable, compassionate, mature. But… this is not abortion. Abortion is a violent and traumatic procedure that intimately affects the woman’s psyche and body. A pregnancy starts a process in a woman, a process that she is biologically set up to bring to completion and to which she attaches at a fundamental level. True care and concern for women would take this into account and provide help and support for pregnancy rather than telling a woman she has the “right” to have the pregnancy violently terminated.

Abortion involves informed consent

When an operation involves potential risks or negative sequelae, it would be considered medical negligence to conceal that information from the patient. Before an abortion, women are routinely told nothing of the now widely documented potential risks, which include:

Depression, feelings of emptiness and despair
Compulsive desire to get pregnant again
Bonding/attachment problems with subsequent children
Suicidal ideation, guilt feelings, self-harming, social withdrawal

One of the reasons this information is not widely known and accepted is that it dismissed and denied by those who have a vested interest in the abortion industry.

Women choose abortion and so have no right to grieve after it

As we have tried to show, abortion is so often not a true choice; it would not have been chosen if the baby had been welcomed by those around. They are given almost no information before the event and do not know what it really is they are choosing. After it, almost no-one understands or acknowledges ther grief. But they have a right to grieve and to be angry at the lack of true choice they had and at their tragic loss.

Women are counselled before abortion

Women’s request for an abortion is routinely rubber-stamped by the doctors who have to approve it. She states that she wants an abortion, the doctor asks why (or may ask nothing at all) and the doctor then signs the form. A recent spot-check on British abortion clinics found that in some of them, pre-signed forms were being used so that a woman did not even have to see a doctor. In any case, teasing out women’s conflicts and situation in any adequate way in a situation of unplanned pregnancy would take months, not minutes.

After an abortion, women are relieved and move on with their lives.

Some women may do. We do not hear about the many women for whom a long, sometimes lifelong, journey of dealing with the pain of abortion has just begun. An abortion takes a few minutes but it is not quickly over and done with. It can ruin entire lives.

Having an abortion will save a relationship

It has been estimated that something like 70% of relationships break up after an abortion. If there has been any element of coercion in the abortion, this is likely to explode afterwards and cause unbearable strain in the couple. A woman’s sexual desire can be affected. Untreated grief leads to depression and repressed anger. Women have a need to blame someone for the abortion.

Abortion is a non-event and does not involve a baby

Fifty years ago, everyone knew that abortion involved the destruction of a human life and was a very serious matter. Today, despite our advanced knowledge of what a foetus in the womb looks like, it has somehow been transformed into a medical operation involving only the woman’s body, rather like the removal of an appendix. People who talk about babies are regarded as extremists and fanatics. The woman, however, knows that it is her baby that is destroyed in an abortion. Some women will grieve deeply for that and others will deny it or dismiss it. Women as a whole would be best served by returning to a situation in which abortion is taken very seriously and becomes rare.

Abortion is the solution for a problem pregnancy

If people rallied round in support, it would in many cases not be a problem pregnancy. The problem is not the pregnancy but the unresolved issues of the woman and her partner and wider family. This is where the true solution lies, not in ending the pregnancy.

Having an abortion leaves you free to pursue your career or studies

Not unusually, a woman never takes up the desired opportunity because she develops significant mental health problems after the abortion. The anecdotal evidence of this is widespread.

I will get over it and get on with my life

This is not possible because the brain is changed forever by the pregnancy, and then again by the abortion. Only birth will complete the cycle of pregnancy in a healing way. An abortion is recorded in the brain and in all the cells of the body. Abortion is not, and never could be, a nothing, a non-event, even if it may suit various people to pretend that that is the case.

Aborting unwanted babies means there is less child abuse

In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true – aborting a baby will make a woman more liable to abuse her children in future, as some research has shown. Women do not have a black and white relationship with their pregnancies, planned or unplanned. Feelings are often ambivalent and change over the course of a pregnancy. The wanted/unwanted dichotomy is not a helpful one. It is more useful and life-affirming to talk about welcoming children.

This is not a good time to have a baby

There will never be a perfect time to have a baby. Since the pregnancy has already begun, most women will be best served by turning to meet that crisis, seeing it as an opportunity for growth and change. Fear in pregnancy, as in any crisis, is appropriate and inevitable. The adequate response is to face what is feared, not to get rid of it.

Children are a burden

Children are a lifelong commitment and involve hard work. But they bring healing, hope and joy and are precious gifts if we could but see it. They are a miracle to be welcomed. A woman needs support and positive affirmations to move forward with this vision and bring it to life. To reject an unborn child is to reject an opportunity to develop and mature, for both parents.

Having a baby costs a lot of money

That may be the message of a consumer society, but in fact a baby’s needs are few. Women who give birth always find that people rally round and give them things. In the equation between more money and the birth of a child, the former does not truly add up.

Teens do not make good parents

There is no evidence to support this. Just looking around will show you many examples of loving, responsible teenage mothers who have had courage in bringing their pregnancy to term.

If there were no legal abortions, women would die in illegal abortions

The figures on illegal abortions depend on which side’s figures you use but it is safe to estimate that there are at least ten times as many legal abortions today as there were once illegal ones. In other words, abortion is being “chosen” because it is an option not because it is really wanted. Some women did die in illegal abortions; although it is not widely known, women also die in legal ones and many more women are being damaged by them.

Women who have abortions are irresponsible and immoral

Women have abortions for various reasons, often connected not with their own concerns and desires but with those of others – their children or their partner. Abortion is sometimes an act of total desperation in which a woman is under severe pressure to abort or simply because her surroundings are not providing her with the help and support she needs. Not infrequently, women have abortions as an act of sacrifice to “save” a situation or a relationship. Tragically, the relationship all too often breaks up anyway and she finds she has destroyed herself and her child for nothing.

The baby will be reincarnated in a “better” birth

This obviously unprovable new age dictum very neatly does away with the need to take any responsibility for the pregnancy that has occurred here and now. It also does not address the reality that women who grieve after abortion grieve that particular baby, unique even if forever unknown.