Crisis pregnancy options not always clear
SEATTLE, Wash. (The Catholic Northwest Progress) - Those in the pro-life movement refer to it as “tunnel vision.”
That’s the nature of the crisis – “to have tunnel vision, to not be able to see your options,” said Valerie Jacobs, who works in post-abortion ministry.
“Over and over again I hear women believe in their mind that having an abortion turns back the clock and makes them ‘unpregnant,’” she said, “as if the pregnancy never occurred.”
In her work as program coordinator for Project Rachel – a Catholic Community Services program for those experiencing the spiritual and emotional effects of abortion – Jacobs said she rarely encounters women who have wrestled with the adoption option during their short-lived pregnancies. Instead, their stories revolve around the fears and anxieties of their partner or family members who pressure them to go ahead with the abortion, wipe the slate clean and get on with their lives.
“There’s just this tunnel vision that comes from everywhere,” said Mary Emanuel, co-regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, through which women speak publicly about their abortion experience. “It’s like: abortion, abortion, abortion.
“These women will say (later) it was my choice, I folded, I’m responsible – part of the healing is taking responsibility for your own role,” Emanuel said, “but as an advocate for so many women who’ve been through abortion, I really sympathize with the amount of coercion that goes on in the abortion decision.”
Pro-life activists say persuading women in crisis pregnancies to consider life is an uphill battle when faced with influences brought by the culture, the media and abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood.
They say there’s the stigma of being single and pregnant, and a culture where the abortion industry designs the legislation and sex education curriculum related to abortion.
“There’s so much coercion that goes on,” said Emanuel. “Some of it’s subtle; some of it’s not so subtle.”
School children are “already told that abortion is safer than childbirth,” she said.
Emanuel remembers that in the months before she gave birth it was common to test for defects such as Down syndrome.
“If one of those tests is a little bit off, they rush you into an ultra-sound. And then it’s, ‘You gotta hurry up and make that decision,’ because they don’t want your pregnancy to go too long if you want to abort.”
Tear-soaked consent form
She said the pressure is partly due to doctors’ fear of lawsuits.
Emanuel said she remembers one young pregnant woman whose doctor – now the head of the women’s health department for a major health care provider – convinced her to abort her baby because it would alleviate her situation with a sick husband and economic problems.
The expectant mother “cried so much she soaked the consent form” with her tears, Emanuel said. Rather than sending her home to pull herself together, they gave her a new consent form to sign, she said.
Mary Ann Kuharski, whose Minneapolis-based Prolife Across AMERICA sponsors billboards promoting carrying the baby to term, said there’s a stigma attached today to relinquishing the baby to adoption that goes: “How could you give up your own flesh and blood?”
So instead, they choose to kill it, rationalizing in part that it will free them from worrying about their baby’s welfare the rest of their lives.
Kuharski, who has several adopted children and who herself was adopted, says the media skews the adoption picture with emotional stories about adoptees searching for and finding their birth parents – when in fact the majority of them “are not the least bit interested in who our (birth) parents were.”
The adoption option is not high on the list for a woman in a crisis pregnancy, Kuharski said.
“When you’re in a crisis, you feel like your back is against the wall, and you listen to the people who are closest to you,” she said. “We can have a woman (caller) talked out of an abortion and she knows it’s wrong, she knows it’s killing…she knows a baby has a beating heart…and two hours later she’ll call back and say, ‘I have to have this abortion. My parents said they won’t pay for the rest of my college. Or my husband says he’ll leave me. Or my boyfriend says he absolutely will reject me.’”
Pro-life advocates say organizations that promote abortion such as Planned Parenthood also play a major role in the decision process.
“Planned Parenthood doesn’t talk much about adoptions,” said Nancy Johnson, who with Emanuel is co-regional coordinator for Silent No More. “There’s no money in it for them, their money comes from abortions.”
Johnson had an abortion in 1972. She said her ...
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