With the overturning of Roe V. Wade, many of us wonder what comes next? A number of states have made strict changes to what women can access for abortions and others have outlawed it completely. Planned Parenthood and the like are now switching gears to offer telehealth consultation and mailed abortion pills for at-home abortions. Many women do not understand what is happening to their bodies when they take medications that specifically induce abortion. The risks are there, but little is offered to warn women ahead of time. How do we help women seeking an abortion in light of these new changes?
Data is showing that more than half of all abortions are being done chemically. This means, exponentially more women are being offered a bag of pills to take, assured that a chemical abortion may cause discomfort but not to be alarmed. Most women who have endured a chemical abortion will tell you, this is not a simple bad period episode. The horrors they recount cannot be overlooked. And that is if they had no medical complications.
What should we offer these women who are seeking an abortion in this manner? Is there a way to reach them with the truth before it’s too late? What are they looking for that would make the difference and how can pregnancy resource centers better position themselves to help women who are interested in obtaining the pills necessary for a chemical abortion?
What Are Women Seeking An Abortion Looking For?
Any woman who has gone through a pregnancy she didn’t intend to have, whether she aborted or not, can tell you the first thing they experience is fear. Unplanned pregnancies are exactly what they sound like; not part of her plan. No matter what her plans were, at that time, they didn’t include motherhood. We have to start there. Trying to convince a woman who is afraid she will undo what her plans for her life are is going to have a hard time hearing, “Don’t kill your baby.” What she is afraid of is, “I just killed my future.” If you want someone to focus on choosing her life over someone else’s you have an impossible mountain to climb.
Women seeking an abortion don’t need to know they are carrying a baby. They know that. What they need is to find a way to stop being afraid of this unscheduled change in life. What are the reasons she doesn’t have to fear?
Secondly, a woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy needs to be listened to and validated in her feelings. No matter how anyone feels about what she says she has to be afraid of, whether you believe her or not, those fears are very real to her and they have to be acknowledged.
Lastly, they need to know someone has their best interests in mind. She needs to know that someone is in her corner. Once she knows that you heard her and you have validated how she feels, now it is time to ask her to trust you with the solution to the problem. This is where it gets sticky. Planned Parenthood proposes an instant way out of her problem, or at least that is what they are selling. That is pretty compelling. She is thinking, “I can just undo this and move on with my life as planned.” A pregnancy resource center proposes you can move on with your life, but what that looks like is going to change. You can see where the friction lies when you look at it from her point of view. It is just what an abortion actually offers her is anything but instant relief from her stress. Unfortunately, no matter what she decides to do, none of the options are instant relief for stress free. All bring their own challenges all are permanent.
What Can We Do To Make A Difference
It might seem that offering tangible goods and resources to a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy would be enough. You would be wrong. Not all women choose abortion for financial reasons. Offering financial help and things for baby is not the right response all the time. For the pregnancy center worker who is listening to her client, it is best offer the things she says are challenges to her being able to choose to parent.
We can make a big difference in helping women seeking an abortion if we do that one thing she needs us to do; open our ears and our hearts to her. Planning to carry to term is the first chasm to cross. Once we help her with that, we can get to the other stuff later. She may choose to parent or she may say that parenting is not for her. For those two choices, there are either services and material goods or a referral to make an adoption plan with a trusted adoption agency. No matter what she chooses, women seeking an abortion need love and understanding to move in the right direction.