By Olivia McDonough
A young girl, scared and desperate, types “Can my parents make me get an abortion?” into a search engine.
The very first result that appears is Planned Parenthood’s response to that very question on its “Ask the Experts” page. It tells her she does not have to have an abortion if she doesn’t want to. Feeling hopeful, she reads on. However, rather than provide her with resources to help communicate her rights to her parents, it makes her more fearful than ever.
The article’s language makes the girl feel hopeless about her future, rather than strong and empowered. It tells her that her future is likely to be rife with financial and social hardships, and does nothing to direct her towards support or resources. Worse, it reinforces her greatest worry; according to Planned Parenthood, there is no option but abortion. She fears she has to submit to her parents’ command.
She begins to despair. Not only will this abortion take her child, but it will thrust her back into the nightmare she has been living for months now. The girl is being abused by a family member, and this abortion will do nothing to change her circumstances. It will only erase the evidence and allow the abuse to continue. From what she reads, no one realizes someone in her situation might need help. No one realizes that young, pregnant girls brought to clinics are red flags; there is often a larger problem. Doesn’t anyone understand? Her baby is not her crisis,
After searching further, she comes across a second article, this one from Catholic News Agency. From it, she learns that other girls had the same problem, and that that their abuse went undetected or unreported, and continued after their visits to the clinic. She needs to find a way out.
Finally, she stumbles across a website for a local pregnancy center. A post, like this one, describes the options available to her. She learns that it is in fact illegal for her parents to force her into an abortion, and she could even win a case against them in court. She is relieved to find that the center has resources, and has helped other girls express their rights. But how will she pay for their services?
She calls to find out, and learns they will help her at no cost. As it turns out, they can also give her prenatal vitamins, an ultrasound, and will help her find a physician. Talking to the lady on the phone, she feels her burdens and fears gently being lifted away. There is hope.
Had she stopped searching when she found Planned Parenthood’s answer to her question, she would still be in danger of exploitation and abuse. Their answer to her question was not merely insufficient. It was downright dangerous.
Thankfully, there is hope.
If you or someone you know is in danger, call for help. We can provide compassionate and confidential assistance. We are here for you.
PS: The Justice Foundation provides resources for those facing pressure/ coercion to abort. Letters outlining your legal rights can be found on their website. You can give these to parents, school counselors, doctors. Show your friends. It is of paramount importance that girls know their rights. http://thejusticefoundation.org/cafa/. Print. Share. Be empowered.