“I found out I was pregnant on my 21st birthday. It was not planned and, in fact, I never really planned on having children in the future. I am now eight weeks pregnant and so confused. I am very pro-life; I just can’t bring myself to go through with an abortion. I have visited abortion clinics and the thought of going through with it sickens me. I feel I have no support from my family or my boyfriend. Everyone has been telling me my only choice is abortion—I need someone to talk to, someone to just listen to me and not tell me what to do. I feel so lonely lately, my relationship of two years is going down the drain and my family is just as confused as I am.” Josie[i]
Many women are faced with the unexpected news that they are having a baby and do not know how to handle the situation. They turn to abortion because they see it as the only option when; in fact, there are many other choices. In the United States alone there were 1,200,000 abortions in the country in 2011.[ii]
As alternatives to abortion, here are several choices one can make. One option is to consider raising the child with the help of others such as the father, immediate family, or relatives. Another option is to place the child in temporary foster care. This is a great choice if the biological parent isn’t able to raise a child at that point in time of their life, but could raise the child after a year or so. One final possibility is to put the child up for adoption. But the choice is ultimately the mothers and fathers have no legal rights to determine the destiny of the pre-born child.
Many mothers come up with the excuse that just getting an abortion is the easiest way to fix the problem. Mothers often rationalize getting an abortion because of the following excuses:
- Right now the timing is bad to have a child.
- Finances are tight and neither of the parents can afford a baby right now.
- The mother doesn’t want to be a single mother raising a child.
- Having a baby would interfere with school or having a successful career.
Since 1973 and the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision, women’s “right to choose” has led to the loss of 55 million pre-born lives. That number represents one-sixth of the current U.S. population. Abortion is the leading cause of (unnatural) death in America.
- In 2009, women aged 20-29 years had the highest abortion rates (27.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20-24 years and 20.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 25-29 years) (Centers for Disease Control).
- In 2009, adolescents under 15 years obtained .05% of all abortions, but had the highest abortion ratio, 785 abortions for every 1,000 live births (Centers for Disease Control).
- Black women are more than 4.8 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.7 times as likely (Guttmacher Institute).
- The abortion rate of non-metropolitan women is about half that of women who live in metropolitan counties (National Abortion Federation).
- The abortion rate of women with Medicaid coverage is three times as high as that of other women (National Abortion Federation).
- At current rates, nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion (Guttmacher Institute).
As abortion rates rise perhaps more time should be given to its effects upon women and their families. Having an abortion has many side effects, both emotional and physical. The emotional side effects include post partum depression and feelings of guilt. Most people believe post partum depression will only happen after a person delivers the baby, but, it happens any time a pregnancy is ended—no matter what stage the pregnancy ended in. Many times it can be very traumatic for the mother to feel a sense of loss or abandonment.
The physical effects of abortion can last two to four weeks after the procedure has been completed. These include abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, spotting and bleeding. More serious complications that could arise are infection, damage to organs including the uterus and cervix, and even death.[iii] These complications are serious to the health of the mother and should be thought about before any decision is made.
According to the Mayo Clinic, having an abortion does not cause infertility issues or complications, but a person runs the risk of developing the following complications: vaginal bleeding during early pregnancy, preterm birth, low birth rate, and placenta previa (the placenta detaches from the uterus wall). Would we want mothers to suffer theses complications when it is preventable with choices other than abortion?
By not having an abortion, a woman will save not only a child’s life, but also maybe her own. It is always a question whether the child who died could have been the next president of the United States or invented the cure for cancer.
Josie’s story is just one of many examples of women who face the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. She concludes her story by saying:
In January, I found out on my 21st birthday that I was pregnant; at that time I was confused and had no idea what to do. It is now March and I am four months pregnant. I decided to keep my baby and raise it with my boyfriend and with the help of my family. I am very happy with my decision; I know I couldn’t have done it any other way. I found out it’s a boy and he’s due in September.[iv]
For many women it can be extremely scary when they are in the situation of having to decide a child’s future. That decision, however, has ultimately been placed in the mother’s hands. She can never ignore the life that would be terminated by that one decision; a decision that could negatively impact her life, her family’s life and rob her (or adoptive parents) of the blessing of a wonderful, precious baby.
Marcy Cooper is from Roy, Utah. She is studying Child Development at Brigham Young University-Idaho and will be graduating in April 2013 with her Bachelor’s Degree.