I'm Pregnant, Now What?
Planned Parenthood claims that “[a] woman should have accurate information about all her pregnancy options. Information should support a woman, help her make a decision for herself, and enable her to take care of her health and well-being. It should not be provided with the intent of shaming or coercing her.“ There are conflicting stories about whether or not Planned Parenthood lives up to this statement when providing counseling to women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Some women claim that they were met by truly caring clinic workers. Others claim that they were pressured into an abortion by Planned Parenthood staff, and some even claim to have been pressured when they came to Planned Parenthood for other care and were not even considering an abortion.
The majority of abortions are performed on teens and younger women. The first place most teenagers would look when thinking about coming to Planned Parenthood would be its website, so I decided to take a look and see what information Planned Parenthood shares about these options. Teens who visit Planned Parenthood’s website are told in the “Info for Teens” section “If you’re pregnant, you have three options – abortion, adoption, and parenting.” As you read these options, put yourself in the shoes of a teen seeking information to help her make a decision that’s best for her.
For abortion, Planned Parenthood provides: “Abortion is a legal and safe procedure that ends a pregnancy. People have many different feelings after an abortion: relief, grief, sadness, happiness, or all of these at once. But there is no “right” way to feel. Abortion does not cause long-term depression or mental health problems.” The description then goes on to discuss parental notification and consent laws.
For adoption, Planned Parenthood provides: “Some women choose to let another family raise their baby. Many women who choose this option feel happy knowing that their child will live in a good, loving home. But others find that the loss and sadness is deeper and longer lasting than they expected. Adoption laws are different in every state, so if you choose this option it’s a good idea to do some research and talk with someone at an adoption agency. And find out what rights a father has in your state – the law may say that he needs to agree to the adoption, too.”
For parenting, Planned Parenthood provides: “Being a parent can be a wonderful experience. A child can bring joy into people’s lives. But, being a teen parent is often very difficult. Some teens have to drop out of school and change their career plans in order to raise a child. Spending time with a child becomes more important than going out with friends and having fun. Some teens get help from parents and family, some don’t. Raising a child without a partner can be even more of a challenge – many teen couples who have a baby don’t end up staying together.”
Planned Parenthood claims that the only drawback to an abortion is possible grief or sadness, feelings that are implied to be fleeting. As Josh Brahm explains in his lecture entitled “Planned Parenthood Unveiled” (available here), the findings of a study published in 2006 by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry reported that “[t]hose having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and substance use disorders.” While Planned Parenthood may disagree or have critiques of such studies, it is far from medically accurate to make a claim that these risks do not exist.
In stark contrast, concerning adoption Planned Parenthood warns of the possible feelings of loss and sadness that can be “deeper and longer lasting than [women] expected.” I would assume that the many women who have joined the Silent No More campaign or who have attended abortion recovery retreats put on by Rachel’s Vineyard, would contend that this description would at the least also apply to abortion.
While the difficulties of parenting as described may be true, there is not one mention of any resource available to assist a young woman with parenting efforts, which is understandable since Planned Parenthood apparently believes that crisis pregnancy centers are “fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion.” In addition, the young woman’s relationship to “the father” is mentioned as a possible additional complication in relation to both adoption and parenting. No mention of “the father” is discussed when it comes to abortion, implying that an abortion allows a woman to “escape” unscathed with no lasting effects to her relationship(s).
It also leaves out the disturbing reality that 64% of women report experiencing coercion to abort. Abortion can be a helpful tool for abusers, so the fact that Planned Parenthood fails to mention coercion leaves one wondering whether they truly are as concerned with consent as they claim to be. 
As members of the pro-life movement of course we are outraged by such obviously biased information and have been for some time, but what I don’t understand is why we are not joined in our indignation by members of the pro-choice movement. As I understand it the pro-choice movement is not pro-abortion but instead supports the availability of abortion as one of many options for a woman and a pro-choice individual would never support biased counseling or information. If the above-described information is what Planned Parenthood has chosen to print in black and white for all to see, I can only imagine what actually goes on in their clinic(s).
While I don’t deny that many clinic workers may really believe they are working for the good of women and families, many are obviously working off of a belief that abortion is not just an option, but the option. Here, a post-abortive woman explains how a lack of information and pressure by Planned Parenthood staff led to her having an abortion that she later regretted. While there are countless stories such as this one, many pro-choice individuals engage in what can only be described as victim-blaming when a woman claims an abortion was coerced (as an article we recently published explains here). If you would like some convincing examples peruse some of the comments here. Planned Parenthood rouses righteous support from the pro-choice community every time anyone dares to attempt to ensure that women are given informed consent. Why wouldn’t those who propagate the ideology of choice be disgusted by any impediment to free choice?
I believe that feminists on both sides of the abortion debate actually agree on more issues than they disagree. One such similarity I would assume is that all who identify as feminists strive for a world where women are never pressured into making life-altering decisions that they may regret later, regret which could be avoided through accurate non-biased information.
So much time is spent standing in front of abortion defending the practice that no one thinks to turn around and see what is actually going on behind closed doors in these clinics. We don’t even need to look beyond those doors though because there is already clear evidence out in the open on Planned Parenthood’s website directed at teenagers. If pro-choice is truly pro-choice and not pro-abortion, then pro-lifers and pro-choicers should be able to work together on this issue and demand that young pregnant women be given accurate non-biased information.
Whether you want abortion to be illegal and unthinkable or you champion the right to have an abortion up until a woman’s due date, you have to admit that when a woman chooses abortion because she has been led to believe there are no other realistic choices, she has been given a grave dis-service. Pro-life feminism is addressing the root causes of abortion instead of using abortion as a harmful band-aid approach to the problems facing women.
Sean Cahill graduated from The University of Arizona Law School in May 2015 and is currently awaiting results from the July 2015 bar exam. She is going into juvenile dependency law and plans to represent parents and children.
This text appears on its “Our Issues” section of plannedparenthoodaction.org. explaining the horror that a “number of out-of-touch politicians” had been attempting to inflict by proposing legislation regarding waiting periods, ultrasounds, and “forc[ing] doctors to provide state-mandated, ideological scripts to their patients.” http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/state-attacks-womens-health/types-attacks/