Abortion coercion is a serious problem that goes on every day. Many women do not even know they are being coerced until after they have an abortion. For me, I was aware that I was being coerced but I didn’t know I had options. I trusted that my mother was operating within her rights as a parent. I was very wrong, but wouldn’t learn that until much later.
This is how I was coerced.
The terror I felt in telling my mother I was pregnant was palpable. I had agonized over this from the very beginning. In the end my boyfriend and I decided he would tell his mom and his mom could tell mine.
When the phone rang that day it woke me from another of the many naps I needed lately. I had just laid my head back down when the door flew open, and there stood my mother enraged. She knew.
I’ve blocked out how long the yelling went on. The one thing I will never forget is her repeating the words that haunt me to this day. “You’ve ruined my life”.
There never was a choice for her. I was having an abortion from the very instance that she knew I was pregnant. We didn’t discuss it, though I tried. I fought hard for my baby.
That is until she laid out “the contract”. It was her handwriting on a yellow legal pad. It was a several page contract of rules, I was to sign. In it were rules I were to follow, and limits she had set, that she wanted me to abide by. I was grounded, and never allowed to stay the night anywhere, go to dances or proms, I was allowed one fifteen minute phone call per day, and the list went on, until I was stopped cold by the final paragraph.
It was a contract that as long as I had an abortion, and followed the rules I was to sign to, that my mother wouldn’t put my boyfriend in jail for statutory rape. I wanted to die. It would begin an overwhelming depression that lives with me now.
I told her emphatically that I wouldn’t have an abortion. We fought back and forth for days. When I was alone in my room I would talk to my baby, and rub my stomach. I was pleading with the baby to just hold on with me. I was fighting for the both of us.
Every day I felt more and more like I was dying from the turmoil. Then one day she had enough of my refusal to have an abortion and started screaming at me again. If I wasn’t going to have an abortion, she “would kick me in the stomach and down the stairs”, until I lost it.
My boyfriend would go to jail, and my baby would die. The only two people I felt I had a connection to in the world, would be ripped away from me.
I surrendered. I gave up. I signed the contract, and had an abortion. My mother went back to her life, and mine has never been the same.
When I turned 18, I estranged myself from her, and we were estranged until her death in 2004. 11 years.
It would sadly be after the fact, much later, that I would learn her contract had no legal standing. Or that her coercion was considered child abuse.
Had I known any of that then, I would have fought much, much harder.
And that is what makes me Pro choice. Not having one is NOT an option. My mother was pro choice too. Pro hers.