An unexpected pregnancy always comes with a little bit of shock and confusion. This can be tricky to navigate when you feel pressure (intentional or not) from your partner. In the decision-making process, you first need to be aware of the different types of pressure you may face.
Pressure can come in more or less insidious forms. It can be direct, indirect, or situational.
This is when a woman’s partner acts in a straightforward manner by clearly telling her to terminate the pregnancy. He may not give her any choice and might even get violent with her (verbally and physically) if she refuses to have the abortion.
This one is more subtle but can be just as persuasive when it comes to making someone opt for abortion. And the sad thing is, the partner may not even be aware of the possible negative consequences his words and actions can have. For instance, he may say things like “I don’t know if our relationship will make it if you keep the baby”, or he may disappear at the announcement of the pregnancy, or constantly change his mind about what he wants. The key point here is that by not being clear about his intentions, he may plant the seed of doubt in his partner’s mind. The latter might think that she should have an abortion in order to make him happy. Or she might convince herself that she changed her mind on her own.
Lastly, there is situational pressure, that can be quite tricky to pinpoint. This happens when a woman starts imagining her future and becomes scared. She may not have had a dad growing up, therefore, she may not want to inflict the same traumatic experience on her own child, in case her partner leaves her. Or she might be fearful of financial impacts or how she will be able to accomplish the goals she sat for herself while raising a child.
All types of pressure may create fear. But the pregnancy in itself may not even be the real issue. Instead, the problem and the root cause of pressure are sometimes found deeper, in the person’s emotions, upbringing, or level of information. Above all, there are some strategies you can implement if you think your partner is pressuring you into having an abortion.
Get informed about options from local organizations that can support you, as well as about pregnancy in general. Lifeline, for example, offers pregnancy and parenting education, ultrasounds, material resources, a program for dads, and much more, all at no cost. You can learn more about our services right now.
Give him time to process the news of your pregnancy as he may feel overwhelmed too. Talk to him about what you have learned. Offer for him to accompany you to an ultrasound so he can see the developing baby and listen to the baby’s heartbeat (if you are far enough along). This may open his eyes to the fact that you are indeed carrying life inside you.
In order to make the best decision for yourself, you need to know that you are not alone. Find someone who will listen to you and give you space to process your feelings, not tell you what they think you should do. That could be a friend, a family member, or someone else. At Lifeline, our professional counselor receives both men and women to discuss pregnancy, parenting, and relationships in general. Our sessions are strictly confidential and at no cost.
What yourself what you really want for your future. Panic can easily set in at the discovery of an unexpected pregnancy. This is why it’s important to put things into perspective. Ask yourself “What do I really want for my life and not just for this moment in time?”. “How will I feel if I decide to have an abortion because someone forced me?”
Ultimately, you need to know what your rights are and what your partner can and cannot do, especially if he perseveres in wanting you to abort. What if he becomes violent? How should you react if he threatens you to take your other kids from you if you don’t listen to him?
First, you need to know that forcing someone to have an abortion is never okay. It is considered coercion and coercion is illegal. “Most states have criminal charges for coercion and also allow for civil action by district attorneys or Attorneys General”.
In addition, coercion is a form of abuse, as defined by Missouri’s Domestic Violence Act. Coercion is the act of “Compelling a person by force or threat of force to engage in conduct from which the person has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage.” So if you are feeling scared and threatened by your partner, whether physically or emotionally, Missouri’s law allows you to request an order of protection. To do that, you will need to fill out a form.
Now, what if your partner intimidates you by saying he will take your other children away from you if you do not obey him? Doing so without your consent is illegal and you can request an emergency custody order. As for normal custody, judges make decisions according to the child’s best interest. They review several factors, including “The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved”. Moreover, if you and your partner are not married, you have a higher chance to obtain custody than him, as “in Missouri, custody of a child whose parents are not married is most often granted to the mother.”
Lastly, if you have already made an appointment for an abortion, you are allowed to withhold or withdraw your consent “without affecting [your] rights to future care or treatment and without the loss of any state or federally funded benefits to which [you] might otherwise be entitled.”
Even if you have initiated a medical abortion by taking the first abortion pill, it may not be too late. Lifeline offers abortion pill reversal at no cost. You can read more about the process by checking this FAQ. For more free services such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and counseling sessions, contact us to make an appointment. We are here to help you!
*Please note this information in no way constitutes legal advice, nor does Lifeline ever offer legal advice. This information is for informational purposes only. Lifeline will help you find legal representation should you need to discuss this matter with a legal professional.