Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How one father coerced his daughter into having an abortion

Northern Plains Anglican has an interesting post, Abortion: The overestimation of "choice" and denial of duress. In response, I am posting here an article from the New York Times Magazine told by a father about how he and his wife coerced their 15 year old daughter into have an abortion. I was stunned when I read the article because the father is so self confident that abortion was the right decision although the daughter wants to have and keep the baby. This is from seven years ago, July 7, 2002, and I have often wondered how the daughter is doing.

My wife knew the girl was pregnant before she did. She was bedridden for several days, and my wife took her to the doctor. According to the laws of my Bible-belt state, a minor needs her parents' permission to have an abortion, but her parents can't tell her not to have a baby. She thought she wanted to keep it and swore she'd be a good mother. My wife and I -- and my oldest daughter -- freaked, and not just because of our dashed aspirations for this girl. We were too old to want to raise another baby -- and we felt sure the raising would fall to us.

Of course there was a boy involved, and he hadn't fled. He lives with his grandparents, and they asked us all to come talk. The grandfather lectured the young couple on responsibility. The boy admitted he wasn't ready to be a father. The only person in the room who wanted the baby was my daughter, but in the face of family advice, she decided she couldn't go through with the pregnancy. My wife scheduled her for an abortion.

The day before surgery, our daughter announced that she had a meeting with a guidance counselor and a county probation officer because of her truancies. She wanted her mother to go with her. Finally, it seemed, we were getting help. My wife came clean, explaining that many of her late arrivals to school had been due to morning sickness. But when she mentioned the abortion, my daughter started crying, and the officer, a woman, ordered my wife to take the girl to a counseling center.

''Like Planned Parenthood?'' the guidance counselor asked.

''No,'' she snapped. She had to go to a pregnancy center that ''tells all sides of the story.'' They drove directly to said ''counseling'' office, which turned out to be an anti-abortion propaganda center, where a counselor showed my daughter aborted fetuses on a video and talked about the after-effects of abortion -- with no mention of the complications of pregnancy. My daughter was right back on the teenage-mommy track. While the counselor went home thinking she had saved a life, we felt we had been sentenced to 18 years of hard labor.

As word spread about the pregnancy, other women called offering to tell about their own abortions. My daughter's friends, her sister, her sister's friends all counseled against having the baby, but she wouldn't listen. [Wouldn't listen or wouldn't agree to have an abortion?]We decided to stage an intervention. When my daughter came into the living room, there were 15 women waiting for her, including four mothers. They asked me to leave; I listened from the kitchen, and though I couldn't hear anything other than sobs and laughter, I could feel the gravity. But when it was over, she still hadn't decided.[Still hadn't decided or still hadn't agreed to have an abortion?]

The next week, I took her to a counseling appointment at Planned Parenthood. As I sat in the waiting room, I thought about my own sister, who had a botched abortion before it was legal. She got kicked out of college for nearly bleeding to death in a dorm room. That night when we got home and my wife asked our daughter what she was going to do, she blurted out, ''I don't have a choice.'' The next day, she turned on Saturday-morning cartoons, as if she'd decided to be a kid again.

We spent a week wondering if she'd change her mind, but she didn't. I realized later that I would have more to worry about if she had easily and immediately decided on an abortion. Ultimately, she did, but she struggled with her decision, and I hope she made the right one.

I remember being most outraged at this paragraph where he claims it was "her decision" after so many paragraphs in which she is coerced into having the abortion although she clearly does not want to have one.


The Underground Pewster said...

This is a most horrible story.

Mother Mary, pray for us to be spared for allowing this to happen on our watch.

karl.rosenqvist said...

It just goes to show .. she should've used a condom.
Here in Sweden we work a lot with teenage pregnancy and it's quite uncommon. There are free condoms and everyone get's education about pregnancy, options and legislation.