New Initiative Offers Help to Girls Facing Pressure to Abort
By Kathleen Gilbert
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, September 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pregnant teens often face pressure to undergo an abortion from parents or others – but a new resource soon to be distributed around the country will offer such young women hope and legal recourse in a seemingly hopeless situation.
While many may think of coerced abortion as a phenomenon found only in countries such as China, pro-life sidewalk counselors across America testify to routinely witnessing young girls being practically dragged into abortion clinics by fathers or mothers unwilling to handle their daughters’ pregnancies.
Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League said that, from his experience as a sidewalk counselor outside abortion clinics, coerced abortion is an all-too-frequent phenomenon.
“From what I’ve seen outside abortion facilities, many women — especially young women — are being coerced into aborting their unborn babies,” Scheidler told LifeSiteNews.com. “Often the young woman will clearly want to come over and talk to a pro-life sidewalk counselor, only to have her boyfriend, husband or parent push her on into the clinic, sometimes forcibly.
“Again and again, women will tell our counselors, ‘I have no choice,'” he continued. “They’re threatened with being abandoned or kicked out of the house. Sometimes they’re even threatened with murder.”
Scheidler said he expected that efforts to end such coercion, if successful, would make abortion rates “plummet.”
A project of the Justice Foundation, the Center Against Forced Abortions (CAFA), hopes to put an end to forced abortion by empowering young women with their legal rights. CAFA has already found success saving lives by offering young women a letter drafted by Justice Foundation attorneys that outlines to parents the legal rights of their daughters to carry their child to term.
Justice Foundation President Allan Parker said the experience of helping teenage girls escape pressure from parents to abort provided the inspiration to draft a letter informing those who are unaware of their rights.
“What’s the basic premise of Roe v Wade? It’s the woman’s choice … [and] choice implies being able to say yes or no,” said Parker.
The letter informs parents – or any other “concerned persons” – that, “even though abortion may be legal, you do not have any right to force, coerce, exert undue influence, or pressure your daughter to have an abortion,” citing the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case Bellotti v. Baird. Such force, they note, may “subject you to reporting and prosecution for child abuse. Besides possible criminal prosecution, if you force, coerce, or exert undue pressure, then both you and the abortionist could be held liable for various civil torts, such as battery, negligence, false imprisonment, or other claims.”
Parker said that the letter could prove lifesaving to the children of young mothers unaware of their legal rights.
“Knowledge is power, and there are legal rights that they have,” he said.
But not only teenage girls should receive the information in the letter, he said. The pro-life leader urged the letter to be distributed to pregnancy centers, police stations, government offices such as child protection services, and school counselors.
Jeanneane Maxon, general counsel for Care Net, said that she was “shocked” at the lack of awareness not only among ordinary citizens, but even active members of the pro-life community. Maxon told LifeSiteNews.com that Care Net “often” receives questions from pregnancy centers unaware “that parents and others cannot force their children to have an abortion.”