There’s nothing more instantly shocking than nervously taking a pregnancy test and watching the test turn positive. In that moment, your life is forever changed. It may feel like a no-brainer that you get to decide what happens next since you’re the one who’s pregnant, but you may soon realize that some of your closest friends and family may have strong opinions that don’t match yours.
Unfortunately, for many women facing an unplanned pregnancy, the top word of advice they get isn’t advice on car seats and bottles, but they’re advised to have an abortion. For many of the people around you, it may feel like an abortion is the only solution to what feels like an unexpected problem, but there’s a chance you feel completely different and there are other options. Maybe scared but deep down you’re excited about your new baby. Maybe you’re determined to find a way to take on the money, living situation, and daycare challenges. Maybe you already feel an incredible bond to your baby and any talks of abortion puts a knot in your belly.
Whether you have a strained relation to your family or they’re some of the closest people in your life, being pressured to have an abortion is overwhelming.
Where Is The Pressure Coming From?
Your family may have good intentions, even if you’re shocked and stressed by their pressure to abort your baby. In the healthiest family units, abortion may be the top advice because family members genuinely have your best interest at heart and they don’t know what an abortion can do to a woman’s body, fertility, and mental health. Maybe they worry that you won’t be able to financially support your child or they’re concerned a baby will knock you off your career path. Maybe they want to see you fulfill your goals to be an entrepreneur or finish higher education. For the strongest of familial bonds, an abortion may be seen as the merciful choice to save a woman from the undoubtedly tough path of parenthood, especially if she’ll be a single mother.
In dysfunctional families, the intention may not be so pure. In unhealthy families, a woman may be pressured to have an abortion to save the family embarrassment, to avoid the woman’s income from being diverted away from the family, or because the woman may leave and establish herself away from the family in order to best care for the baby.
The Pressure Can Look Different
Regardless of the reason, this kind of coercion is unkind and stressful, and the tricky thing is this kind of pressure might look different from situation to situation.
Depending on your family dynamics, you may feel a looming, passive aggressive pressure through side comments and strange familial behavior. For other women, they get a barrage of arguments against having a baby. Here are some other ways pressure to have an abortion can manifest from family members:
- Verbal abuse like yelling and screaming
- Threats to kick you out of the house if you have a baby; this can feel incredibly frightening if you have nowhere else to live
- Offers to pay for the abortion
- Threats to cut you off financially
- Threats to withdraw any necessary help once the baby is born
- Violence or threats of violence
- Emotional manipulation
Whose Choice Is It To Have An Abortion?
No matter what people are telling you, the choice to have an abortion is yours only and we’re deeply saddened that your family is pressuring you to abort. We know you feel frustrated, confused, and defeated and that’s unfair for you to be made to feel that way. We’re so sorry, friend, and we want you to know that there’s hope beyond this.
For one, it’s illegal in all 50 states to force someone to have an abortion even if she’s under 18. Additionally, it’s illegal for any doctor to perform an abortion on a woman without her informed consent. For more information about your rights, the Justice Foundation outlines the legal basis for abortions.
What Can You Do?
- Make Your Own Decision
The reality is that coercion to have an abortion has a flurry of drawbacks. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Women who feel pressured to agree to abortion are more likely to experience negative emotional and mental health reactions.”
These women were more likely to suffer from anxiety, clinical depression, substance abuse, and suicidal behavior after their abortions. For your overall health, it is critical that you receive information about all of your pregnancy options, weigh them in an unbiased way, and make a choice that you can feel confident about.
This may mean taking a step back from your family for a few days and really reflecting on what you want to do. Be honest with yourself—there are a host of factors to think through including your housing and working situation after the baby arrives, new financial needs, and stability within the home.
For many women, they may need to change their job or home environment in order to accommodate a new baby and it’s important to think through those things early. In response to thinking through life variables, remember there are options aside from having an abortion including adoption and parenting. Upon having the baby, you may even decide to remain the baby’s parent or co-parent with your older family members, partner, or community to ensure you have support when parenting gets hard.
- Trust Others To Help You
Confiding in people around you who are wise and trustworthy is also a great path to take; trusted friends and family members who know your unique situation can offer relevant, knowledgeable advice. We also highly recommend talking with a decision support counselor. The counselors at The Source can share detailed information about your options, listen to your unique situation, and help you make the best decision for you. Click the button below to schedule a free appointment with one of our trained counselors today.
- Give Your Family Some Time
It’s likely that your family is in a state of shock that you’re pregnant. While that doesn’t excuse their behavior, it gives context to it. If possible, give your family some time to understand your decision and explain it to them as clearly and often as you can. Take a family member or two to your ultrasound or doctor’s appointment to help them better understand that there’s a life you’re trying to protect and that you could really use their help in the process. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat can melt even the coldest hearts.
- Maintain Your Boundaries and Convictions
This is the hardest part—sticking to your decision. Pressure from family can cause tension and stress, especially in this situation, so it’s normal to want to concede and do whatever they want in order to alleviate their tension. We encourage you to stay steady and focus on the reasons you want to keep your baby. Remember the reasons why parenting is the right decision and think about your plan for making things work. It’s easy for people to bring up all kinds of reasons why they think you’re decision is wrong, but your strength of will is what can help you endure your pregnancy and stay confident in your decision to keep your little one.
Stay close to the people who are encouraging, helpful, and kind and try your best to limit the power and influence your family has on you. Maybe that means limiting contact with them temporarily or verbally pushing back when they try to pressure you—whatever you do, do so consistently. And when you feel overwhelmed, lean on the people who are supportive.
We promise, you’ll get through this and so will your little one. Just know that the women at The Source are here to support you in this season and ensure you have all the information, encouragement, and care you need to make the right decision for you.