The Unwanted Abortion Crisis — Ignored Again
New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed a package of bills designed to protect “a woman’s right to determine and make her own decisions about her own body.”
But how often is abortion really a woman’s own decision?
The best evidence indicates that 64% of women who admit having a past abortion report that they felt pressured into abortion by others. Sometimes the pressure is subtle. Sometimes it is openly violent.
The pressure can come from parents, male partners, employers, friends, counselors or even doctors trying to avoid liability for a prescription that may have injured an unborn child. But it is far more common than most people realize.
I know this because I have gathered literally thousands of testimonies from women for peer reviewed medical studies. A common refrain is “I had no choice.”
For example, Tracey wrote to me:
My family would not support my decision to keep my baby. My boyfriend said he would give me no emotional or financial help whatsoever. All the people who mattered to me told me to abort. When I said I didn’t want to, they started listing all the reasons why I should. They said it would be detrimental to my career, and my health, and that I would have no social life and no future with men. Could I actually do it alone? I started feeling like maybe I was crazy to want to keep it. I finally just told everyone that I would have the abortion just to get them off my back.
Three months later, after a failed suicide attempt, Tracey was trying to trick her boyfriend into a replacement pregnancy. Easy access to abortion did not improve Tracey’s life. It scarred her forever.
The pro-choice ethicist Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center lamented the fact that most pro-choice advocates strictly maintain “an embarrassed, sheepish silence on what would seem to be a matter of obvious concern for those committed to choice….That men have long coerced women into abortion when it suits their purposes is well known, but rarely mentioned.”
Why is this important problem never the focus of public attention?
At best, pro-choice advocates simply prefer to focus on the self-actualized, independent women who freely choose according to their own values, preferences and desires.
At worst, social engineers (hiding behind pro-woman rhetoric) are giving coerced abortions a wink and a nod because they advance their own population control agenda.
The More-Abortions-Are-Better Agenda
Notably, this eugenics mentality was inherited from Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger and her biographer, Lawrence Lader, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League. The latter’s influential book, Abortion (cited eight times in Roe v Wade), argued adamantly that easier access to abortion was necessary to reduce the burdens of the poor on society: “Above all, society must grasp the grim relationship between unwanted children and the violent rebellion of minority groups.”
Similarly, Ron Weddington, co-counsel with his wife Sara in Roe v Wade, successfully lobbied president elect Bill Clinton to expand access to cheap abortion pills precisely “to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy and poor segment of our country” since “26 million food stamp recipients is more than the economy can stand.”
Abortion is unique, as Lader complained, because “each woman who decides whether or not a fetus should become a child affects the population charts.” Every new child affects not only the individual woman, but also her male partner, her family, her neighbors, and society at large.
This is why easy access to abortion is a double-edged sword. It makes it easier for women to choose abortions for their own reasons, but it also makes it easier for women to be pressured, or even forced, into unwanted abortions by both individuals and institutional pressures. Which, for population controllers, is exactly the point.
How do you tell the difference between a pro-choice advocate and a pro-abortion social engineer? Ask them their opinion about China’s former one-child policy. If they soundly condemn it as a violation of a woman’s right to have as many children as she desires, they are pro-choice. If they try to defend it as a reasonable population control policy, they are pro-abortion.
This is the challenge faced by advocates of abortion havens. How are they going to prevent their havens from being turned against women?
The word “choice” sounds good. But when is it a good choice? When is it a bad choice? And when is it “I have no choice.”
If Governor Hochul really wants to be a champion for “choice,” she should be equally concerned about curtailing the national epidemic of unwanted abortions.
David C. Reardon is the author of Making Abortion Rare: A Healing Strategy for a Divided Nation and numerous peer reviewed studies on the negative effects of abortion on women.
A version of this commentary was previously published by The Washington Examiner.
 Lawrence Lader, Abortion (New York: Bobbs‑Merrill Company, Inc., 1966), 152.
 Lawrence Lader, Abortion (New York: Bobbs‑Merrill Company, Inc., 1966), 2.