A study by the University of California, San Francisco, Committee on Human Research explored 954 women’s justifications for seeking the procedure. Almost three-quarters of participants were 20-34 years old, and nearly eighty percent were single and had never been married. Less than half had more education than a high school degree. Almost half had, “received public assistance in the last month.” Fifty-three percent were employed.
Women were asked two questions: “What are the reasons that you decided to have an abortion?” and, “What would you say was the main reason you decided to have an abortion?” The participants considered abortion for multiple reasons. The solutions given are merely points meant to initiate conversations targeted at resolving a certain issue. Each concern could be written and debated about extensively to find different solutions.
Forty percent of respondents were considering an abortion for financial reasons. Most answers within this category were labeled under general financial troubles. Obviously financial concerns aren’t limited to the sphere of abortion. People and governments still wrestle with the best solutions to alleviate poverty. The evidence shows that wise choices early in life are significant in reducing poverty. The Brookings Institute has determined three things people should do to escape poverty and rise into the middle class: 1) graduate from high school; 2) postpone marriage and children until after age 21; and 3) have a full-time job. People’s solutions to poverty may divide according to their political persuasion, but debating the merits of different solutions while striving toward a common goal is invaluable.
Thirty-seven percent of women said the timing of the pregnancy was wrong. Most women weren’t ready for a baby because the pregnancy was unplanned. To state the obvious: except in cases of rape, pregnancy is pretty preventable from the start. People would do well to take advantage of the various options available to avoid becoming pregnant before a child is conceived.
Thirty-one percent mentioned partner-related reasons for seeking an abortion. Women’s answers in this group were basically split among the following categories: 1) The relationship is poor or new; 2) the woman wanted to be married before having a child; or 3) their partner was unsupportive or “the wrong guy.” A tiny percentage included concerns about their partner being abusive or not wanting a child.
Again, wise decision-making from the get-go can prevent negative ramifications in the future. Don’t form a relationship with an unsupportive or unsuitable person. If you or your partner don’t want a child, use protection or don’t commit the very act that leads to procreation. If a woman is grappling with the heinous issue of domestic abuse, they should be encouraged to seek help immediately. Getting rid of the child is wrong and doesn’t “fix” anything.
Twenty-nine percent said they needed to focus on raising their other children. Regardless of these women’s intentions, the outcome for the forgotten child is bleak. It’s nonexistent, actually. Science strongly indicates fetuses are alive from the time of conception. Violating the unborn child’s rights by taking his or her life should be unthinkable. The discussion should address the science behind conception so moral arguments against murder can be made.
Twenty percent were concerned that having a baby would hinder future opportunities. Yes, a baby does do this. But a child’s right to life transcends convenience by every reasonable metric. Adoption is a middle ground in which the mother’s concerns and her child’s life are acknowledged.
Nineteen percent didn’t feel “mentally or physically” prepared to have a child. Change can be daunting, and fear of commitment or inadequacy is a real impediment to embracing future opportunities. Again, the subject of personal responsibility is pertinent. Assuming the child was conceived consensually, the mother definitely had a say in whether or not a child would result.
Twelve percent brought up health concerns, whether for themselves or the fetus. This is a more serious concern, although it should be noted that abortions performed to save the mother’s life account for less than 1% of abortion cases. Including non-life-threatening health concerns, the total number rises to 2.8%. While awful, it’s not an epidemic. Aborting the baby because he or she might be harmed in the womb is illogical. A supposed “mercy killing” is still the termination of a life, one that no one has the right to take. If abortion is considered to save the mother’s life, two lives are still involved and both should be acknowledged. Moral laws and science are unchanged.
Another 12% worried they wouldn’t be able to give their child a good life, and 7% felt they weren’t mature enough to care for a child. Fear in handling this important of a responsibility is reasonable and understandable. After all, a child’s life is in your hands. This is also a reason to protect the life, not to terminate it in the womb. Also, responsibility, it turns out, is an indispensable quality to make wise decisions.
Five percent feared negative reactions from people close to them. With respect to the feelings of the women involved, many actions you take in life will illicit a response from others, and that response won’t always sing your praises. Learning to discern the truth in these comments and applying relevant criticism constructively in your life is part of being an adult. If family or friends disapprove of your choices, you should hear them out and see if they have a point.
Four percent didn’t want a baby, nor did they want to put the child up for adoption. This is a difficult situation, because pro-lifers often push adoption as a sort of substitute for abortion that doesn’t harm the child. Fortunately, this response is only a few percentage points of those who participated in the study. These people need to be convinced that adoption is worthwhile because their child is alive, important, and worthwhile.
Less than 2% of participants listed concerns other than the ones listed above, so they can’t exactly be addressed.
In summary, there are a myriad of reasons women consider abortions. Women’s perceived need for abortion can be prevented in many cases by making responsible choices. If we accurately represent these women’s concerns, they are likely to also be more receptive to our views. If we avoid ignorance and intellectual dishonesty, we will be more likely to turn hearts and minds to the policies that protect unborn lives.