The message is often given to students, that it is difficult enough to keep up with tertiary studies even without the complication of a baby, so abortion is the only viable choice.Actress Jennifer O'Neill, who suffered emotional despair and major depression following her own abortion, says that many young women undergo coercion to have an abortion.
- Having to choose between motherhood or an education is a choice no woman should be forced to make.
- There can be trememdous pressure from friends, lecturers and counsellors for pregnant students to abort.
- While there are childcare subsidies available to students in New Zealand, meeting the remainder of the fees may be too costly.
- Pregnant students choosing to keep the baby often drop out of university, planning to finish at a later date, many never do.
- Tertiary institutions would need to provide tax-payer funded accomodation with free daycare to enable students to have viable alternatives to abortion.
"Such pressured abortions can be caused by schools that lack adequate resources for pregnant college students or parents who don't want to help a teen mother raise a child.
"There is no quick fix for an unplanned pregnancy," O'Neill said. "But where do teens go when told they are going to be kicked out of the house if they have the child?"
Serrin Foster, of Feminists for Life in America, remarks that pregnant College (University) students are almost unheard of on American campuses. She says that strong peer pressure is brought to bear as well as directive counselling to abort. The implication is that continuing with a pregnancy would hamper a women's chances of graduating.
"...make the mature decision and have an abortion."
This happened to a 21-year-old student at Lafayette College. Published in the college's student newspaper, Larissa Bellamy told how, when she discovered she was pregnant, her coach recommended she "make the mature decision and have an abortion." (Bellamy was a discus thrower.) Bellamy also commented on the lack of services and support on campus.
Bellamy contended that in several decades no other Lafayette students have chosen to see their pregnancies to term and stay in school. She only missed a week of classes after having a Caesarian section.
When students read her story, some young women who were also having to deal with unplanned pregnancies began coming to Bellamy for advice.
"Do your homework before you make any big decisions," Bellamy said. "You need to really weigh your options, and it's not a one-sided opinion from someone who says, 'This is what you should do,' and that's it.
"A baby does change your life, but you don't have to put anything on the back burner. Like my doctor said, it's not a disease. It just means you have to be more focused."
Some of the Student Unions in the UK, instead of advocating for change, offer to part-pay abortion fees.
The situation in Britain is similar to the above experience where students face the same option - have an abortion, or leave... Some of the Student Unions, instead of advocating for change, offer to part-pay abortion fees. When questioned on what help they give to women wanting to keep their babies, the answer was, "Hiring a cot or pram has sometimes been offered." (Source: Student LifeNet)
It is also difficult for married students, but in these cases the majority of women have their husband's support.
Motherhood vs Career
Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood (Henry Holt and Company, 2001), called motherhood not just a personal choice but a grossly undervalued economic contribution when she spoke at the University of Wisconsin System Work/Life Forum in Madison WI in 2002. She said:
This generation of toddlers will be the next generation of faculty, administrators and contributors to the Social Security Trust Fund.
"Everyone benefits from good child rearing. This generation of toddlers will be the next generation of faculty, administrators and contributors to the Social Security Trust Fund. They will produce the goods and services that keep the economy running. Helping them grow into bright, creative, socially adept people of integrity is a form of national service."
Crittenden pointed out that "Women can be women's worst enemies, making a false dichotomy between working women and mothers.
"Feminists avoid confronting the high career-dropout rate of college-educated women, fearing it will be an argument against educating and hiring women. Women who stayed childless to spent 80 hours a week in the lab don't see why others shouldn't choose between the same alternatives."
Although Crittenden is talking about the effect motherhood has on a woman's career, her remark about feminists is relevant. Some women who have chosen to have an abortion, rather than continue with both their pregnancy and their education, don't see any necessity to improve services and conditions in order to make it easier for other women.
Obviously this does not apply in all cases, as was seen with Jennifer O'Neill in the opening sentences.
Nearly 75% of children living in single- parent families will experience poverty before they turn 11.
In America, the National Fatherhood Institute reports that "18 million children live in single-parent homes. Nearly 75% of American children living in single-parent families will experience poverty before they turn 11. Only 20% in two-parent families will experience poverty." Melinda Sacks, "Fatherhood in the 90's: Kids of absent fathers more "at risk"," San Jose Mercury News (10/29/95).
On average, a mother who gives birth and raises a child outside of marriage is seven times more likely to live in poverty in the United States, than is a mother who raises her children within a stable married family.
New Zealand has the developed world's second highest percentage of single parent families. Currently 29 percent, it is predicted that by 2010, if present trends continue, half of European and nearly three-quarters of Maori infants under 12 months will be in fatherless families.
While unemployment figures have been falling steadily in New Zealand for some years, and are projected to continue doing so, the number of single parent families requiring financial assistance has continued to rise upwards.
One Social Welfare report stated that "sole parents stand out as the disadvantaged of the disadvantaged."
When a woman drops out of secondary and/or tertiary education, her resulting lack of qualifications will make it hard for her to find a job that pays well.
When a woman drops out of secondary and/or tertiary education, her resulting lack of qualifications will make it hard for her to find a job that pays well enough to cover the costs of quality daycare on top of general living costs. Single, or lone, motherhood is one of the recognised indicators for poverty. It is vital therefore that women should have the option of continuing their education, both while pregnant and after the baby is born.
Daycare and Accomodation
While 'Childcare' is available at most campuses, allowing the mother to breastfeed between lectures, the fees can be crippling for someone struggling on a student loan. Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) subsidises childcare, for those who meet the criteria, for up to 50 hours per week. The subsidy only applies to licensed childcare facilities.
In the budget year 2004-2005, New Zealand allocated $451 million in direct operating subsidies to childcare programmes, which amounted to approximately 85 percent of operating costs.
College students today are the most conservative generation in a long time, at least as far as abortion is concerned.
A 2003 article by Heather Koerner, found at Boundless webzine cites two polls that indicate 'college' students are the most conservative generation in a long time, at least as far as abortion is concerned. This swing will mean a need for better access to childcare for female students if women are not to be discriminated against in higher education.
This will require greater government childcare subsidies, to enable women to continue their education. It may also require the provision of student accomodation to allow for a mother to be with her child.