Guest Author - Suzanne Gregory
Teen pregnancy is a common and well known problem. In the United States, thirty four percent of teenage girls will become pregnant before reaching the age of 20. Another common issue with teen pregnancy, but less obvious, is parental coercion of these pregnant teens, to abort.
Parental abortion coercion is a term used to describe tactics some parents use to sway the decision of their pregnant children to end their pregnancy. The parent plays on the childís vulnerability, fear, and lack of knowledge to rid them of the burden that comes with having a pregnant teenager.
In Tennessee last year, a law called the Freedom from Coercion Act was passed, forcing places that perform abortions to post signs that are clearly visible in large print, stating that women have a choice and no one can force them to abort.
Unfortunately, many teens donít know this or are too afraid to speak out about their preferences.
Here are some tactics used by parents of teens to force their decision.
1. Threats including, kicking their children out of the house, or disowning them for not going along with the parentís decision.
2. Threats of harsh punishment, like excessive grounding, or loss of privileges.
3. Threats to throw the babyís father in jail or to charge him with statutory rape.
4. Threats of harm or abuse to the teen, in order to induce abortion.
5. Telling the child they have no choice.
The reality of these threats are, that all women, teenage or not, have a choice. No decision about their pregnancy can or should be forced on them. Not even the parents of a pregnant teen have a right over their child to choose their decision. It is her body, her baby, her decision, period.
These tactics are lies, are considered coercion, and are illegal.
1. You have to sign your own signature for consent to have an abortion and if you donít, one cannot be performed.
2. Parents are responsible for their children until they are 18 years of age and therefore cannot kick them out, or cause bodily harm without breaking the law and or having the State department of Child Services step in.
3. Each state has its own varying laws on statutory rape and age of consent. Generally, unless the minor is very young or the babyís father is much older, nothing will be done.
If you or someone you know is being coerced into a decision that is not their own, contact the State department of child services and your local police department immediately.