Coercion and Abortion

Some women who would like to continue with the pregnancy are under varying forms of pressure or coercion to abort.
  • Some fathers have sought to prevent the abortion but they have no rights under the law.
  • Surveys estimate that around 30-60% of women are pressured by their boyfriends.
  • Staff forewarn patients not to talk to sidewalk counsellors who offer support and alternatives.
  • Mothers have been observed escorting their tearful teenage daughters into clinics to have an abortion.
  • Sometimes a woman will be seen being escorted by two men holding each arm.
Many women are determined to have an abortion and do so alone, or with the support of their partner.

Some women are ambivalent, sometimes right up to the operation itself. Others would like to keep their baby, but are under varying degrees of pressure, or coercion.

There have been rare cases of fathers of unborn children seeking to prevent an abortion, but under the law they have no rights or legal standing.
  • In the United States, the Elliot Institute, estimates that approximately 40% of abortion are coercive.
  • A survey of members of the US organisation Women Exploited by Abortion, showed 33% were pressured to have abortions by their boyfriends. 54% said that they felt “forced by outside circumstances” to have an abortion.
  • Husbands were the least likely to 'push' their wives to have an abortion, representing only nine percent.
No research has been carried out about coercion in New Zealand, but post-abortion pregnancy counsellors report anecdotal evidence.

A prominent case in New Zealand was the former junior New Zealand Warriors player, Shane Williams-Metcalf who, with his two friends and Warriors teammates Geoffrey Ruaporo and Kyle Donovan, was convicted in May 2004 after attacking his former 15 year old pregnant girlfriend and kicking her in the stomach in order to induce an abortion.

The girl later gave birth to a healthy baby.

Sidewalk counselling observations
In the 1970s and 1980s, abortion clinics like Epsom Day Clinic in Auckland and Parkview in Wellington, were stand-alone facilities with car parking. However many women walked along the street and would be approached by female “sidewalk counsellors” near the entrance.
"Sidewalk counsellors” are a regular feature of anti-abortion activism outside abortion facilities.

“Sidewalk counsellors” are a regular feature of anti-abortion activism outside abortion facilities around the western world. They typically approach the woman and offer help and support as an alternative to the abortion. Some confide that they have had abortions themselves and that it’s not the answer.

In the case of Epsom Day Clinic, the clinic’s counselling staff forewarned patients to walk on by and ignore the sidewalk counsellors. However, some women still stop and listen. Former sidewalk counsellors say that these were mainly Pacific Islanders, who admitted they were having an abortion out of fear of bringing “shame” on their families, and enduring physical punishment from male family members, if their pregnancy was discovered.

Many of these women accepted the offer of help. Sometimes two clinic counsellors would walk across the lawn and intervene, saying to the woman, “You don’t have to listen to them”, take her by each arm and escort her into the facility.

Sidewalk counsellors observed mothers firmly walking their tearful teenage daughters into the facility. Sometimes Asian women were escorted by two men, one holding each arm.
Partly to thwart the activities of sidewalk counsellors, District Health Boards moved abortion facilities into hospital buildings.

Partly to thwart the activities of sidewalk counsellors, District Health Boards in New Zealand have moved abortion facilities into hospital buildings.

Californian experience
Approximately 900,000 teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States, with around half giving birth. Popular understanding is that the fathers are teenagers themselves.

But a 1992 California Department of Health Services study revealed that more than three-quarters of these children were fathered by men older than 20. More than 70% of the births were out of wedlock.

The study also found that men older than 20, also father five times more births among junior-high school girls, than do junior high-school boys. For girls in junior high, the father is on average 6.5 years older. When the mother is 12 years old or younger, the father averages 22. Most of these older 'fathers' abandon their “used girls” after getting them pregnant.
“A substantial portion of teenage sexual activity is more a matter of manipulation, coercion or abuse.

“These studies highlight the problem that a substantial portion of teenage sexual activity is more a matter of manipulation, coercion or abuse than anything else,” wrote Joe McIlhaney, gynaecologist and expert on sexually transmitted diseases, in Insight (Sept 29, 1997).

The 1996 “Kids Having Kids” study by the Robin Hood Foundation, a community-based relief agency in New York City, reached a similar conclusion. It says it research, conducted by leading scholars, “suggests that the incidence of pregnancy among adolescent girls is often a result of sexually predatory behaviour of older men.”

“Research also shows that about 25 percent of girls who become pregnant, get that way under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” says McIlhaney, founder of the Medical Institute of Sexual Health in Austin, Texas. “And we know how intense peer pressure is. It’s a pit, a cesspool.
Teens are having horrible, manipulative sex that is saturated with drugs, alcohol and loneliness.

Teens are not having “beautiful, consensual sex” as is portrayed in films and TV. They are having horrible, manipulative sex that is saturated with drugs, alcohol and loneliness.”

Most of the older than 20 men and high-school boys who father these out-of-wedlock children, also refuse to provide any kind of support financial or otherwise, for the teenage girls they impregnate, or their children.

“More than half of teenage mothers are not residing with their child’s father by the time the child reaches grade school. More than one-quarter have never lived with the father. Nor does the father offer much financial help. Only 20 percent of never married mothers receive formal child support, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” (Suzanne Chazin  in Reader’s Digest)
The social and economic costs of teenage- pregnancy, abortion and STD epidemics are enormous.

The social and economic costs of these teenage-pregnancy, abortion and STD epidemics are enormous. They have been estimated to run as high as US$21 billion a year. Taking care of a baby without the help of a father is a full-time job. Often the teenage mother is prevented from earning money she needs to support herself and the child, which is why eight out of ten girls go on welfare, for perhaps a generation or more. (Source: Insight on the News article by Oliver Starr)

Forced Abortions in America - is a Research Document (in PDF) from the Elliot Institute which studies the effects abortion has on individuals. The Report claims that 60% of women felt they had been coerced into having their abortion. It also claims that 8 out of 10 women would have chosen to give birth if they had received support.

"Abortion is not about a woman’s freedom to choose according to her conscience—studies show that most women decide against their consciences. Their “decision” is often based on the demands or threats of others — even when it violates their own moral beliefs and desire to keep the baby."

Once others demand that she have an abortion, the pressure and abuse often escalate. Many pregnant women have been killed or injured by partners trying to prevent them giving birth. The Elliot Institute documents case after case in the Report.