Monday 7 February 2011

Myth Busting Monday - No Woman Wants to Have an Abortion

Each Monday we've been busting common myths about abortion. for the next few Mondays we're borrowing short extracts from a great article on the Scarleteen website called How to (un)pPack for a Real Discussion About Abortion We think Scarleteen is brilliant. Abortion is one of the many topics they cover spanning the whole range of issues relating to human sexuality. They address every issue with a rights-based, compassionate, evidence-based approach. If you haven't visited DO!
Thanks Scarleteen for giving us permission to reprint this extract from your article.

No woman wants to have an abortion
Many women, if not most, who choose an abortion want to have one. If a woman freely chooses abortion for herself, rather than being pressured or coerced into it, then an abortion is absolutely what she wants.

And let’s be real about that: women are pressured or coerced into all of the possible choices with a pregnancy with some frequency. Sometimes that pressure is direct, from family, partners, friends. Sometimes that also comes from communities, cultures, religions, politics. No matter WHAT choice a woman is making about her pregnancy, from a pro-choice perspective, pressure, coercion or force is absolutely unacceptable.

By all means, some women have pregnancies they do NOT want to terminate, where the last thing they want is an abortion, yet they still decide to terminate, usually based on very serious or grave circumstances. Some women feel that of the three choices available they don’t want to make any of those choices: but one has to be made, even if none of them are wanted.

There is a range in this: for some, abortion is an ideal choice, what is most wanted, full-stop and without any feelings of conflict. For others, neither abortion nor childbirth are wanted outcomes, but abortion is the more wanted choice and what seems best to that woman with her pregnancy. For many, feelings lie somewhere in between those two poles.


  1. It's funny- I follow a fabulous pro-choice Tumblr that recently wrote that no woman wants to have an abortion, and received a comment from someone fuming about it. What the Tumblr explained was exactly how I had originally perceived it- when we use the phrase "No woman wants to have an abortion.", it's being used as a shorthand response to anti-choice rhetoric. They like to claim that women who seek out abortions are careless, irresponsible, using abortion as birth control, and shrugging while flipping through a magazine during the procedure- that evil women are somehow seeking to get pregnant just so they can abort.

    So when we (as pro-choicers, that is) say "No woman wants to have an abortion.", it's a way of reminding everybody that nobody actually wants to HAVE to have an abortion- that, given the choice between fool-proof control over her reproduction and abortion, everybody would choose the former. Even when abortion is "perfect" and someone leaves psychologically and emotionally healthy and happy and with their future bright ahead of them, unwanted pregnancy is still a situation nobody wants to have (as abortion costs money, takes time, and is a medical procedure).

    So I guess I just haven't heard the phrase used much by anti-choicers . . . it seems to be used in a more positive way by pro-choicers, even though I can understand how someone would twist the meaning around.

  2. Thanks for your interesting comment. It is true that this phrase is often used defensively against accusations that feckless women choose abortion lightly, use it as a form of contraception etc. I liked Scarleteen's take on it though which still recognises the range of feelings that people have about making this choice. I like your formulation too that nobody wants the 'situation' in which they have to make this decision even though they may have felt comfortable with the decision itself.

  3. Nicely written. I've been considering the space where, sure, a woman might not want an abortion, IF THE WORLD WAS DIFFERENT. But, she exists in this world and in this, real world and circumstance, it is what she wants. I think this dichotomy causes some confusion. (sure, when I had mine, I totally wished someone would take care of me and let me play house with a baby. But, I had to work and had no support and no money...). That's reality, and it always will be.

  4. " They like to claim that women who seek out abortions are careless, irresponsible, using abortion as birth control, and shrugging while flipping through a magazine during the procedure- that evil women are somehow seeking to get pregnant just so they can abort."

    But so what if women are using it as birth control? Or not using any at all? Or really don't care and flipping through a magazine is what they want to do...? They still want to terminate the pregnancy, and I really wish the pro-choice movement would stop throwing certain women deemed downright unacceptable by the anti-choicers under the bus in order to try and get support from a group of misogynists.

  5. I don't think anyone could possibly be so callous as to sit with a magazine while getting an abortion.
    Women who go ahead with an abortion probably do so as there isn't much choice left - money is tight the most likely reason.

  6. Nice & informative post. Keep Continue , Your website make surfing interesting.