Friday, February 19, 2010

The importance of supporting pregnant women

Frederica Mathewes-Green writes:

The most important thing pregnancy centers provide will always remain the individual friendship and support that a pregnant women needs. When I began research for my book, "Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion," I had the goal of discovering the main reasons women had abortions. I thought that if we could rank-order the problems women faced -- material, practical, and financial -- we'd be able to address them more effectively.

To my great surprise, I found that these practical forms of support were only secondarily important. Woman after woman told me that the reason she'd had an abortion was that someone she cared about told her she should. The people she needed to lean on for support in a crisis pregnancy, like her boyfriend or mother, didn't supply that support, but instead encouraged her -- and sometimes, sadly, coerced her -- to have an abortion instead.

While pro-choice advocates present abortion as an act of autonomy, pregnant women experience it rather as a response to abandonment. Pregnancy is the icon of human connectedness, binding a woman to her child and the father of the child. Abortion shatters those connections and leaves her desolate.

Thus, when I asked women, "What would you have needed in order to finish the pregnancy?" repeatedly they told me, "I needed just one person to stand by me."