Unexpected pregnancy can present an uncomfortable to heart-wrenching situation, especially in cases of sexual assault by a known or unknown perpetrator. What is most important is that “problem” pregnancy be met with compassion and practical help. Women can find 24-hour pregnancy helplines on the internet or in the telephone book. Pregnancy counselors seriously discourage women seeking pregnancy advice from sharing any personal details over the Internet. “The best choice is perspective,” says media producer Old Dog Documentaries in a short, thoughtful video called “Beyond the Politics of Life and Choice.”
Women with an unplanned pregnancy have three choices in the U.S. today: parenthood, adoption, and legal abortion.
Parenting. Most Americans consider parenting, even with a pregnancy that comes as a surprise, as the preferred option. It is natural, and it may be the most magnificent wonder in the world. Motherhood is not just baby showers and someone to cuddle, however. Each baby means changing about 3,000 diapers, not to mention not enough sleep during infancy, teenage acting out, and the pressures of being a grandparent. Being a mother is a lifelong responsibility, as well as a cherished blessing.
Adoption. Adoption is an honest, mature, and responsible action for a woman who is not ready to parent. It dos not have to be an abrupt end to parenthood as it was in the past. It does not mean that you do not love your child. It does mean that you want what is best for him or her, both now and in the future. If you still would like to be a part of your child’s life, you can seek an open adoption, with a continuing relationship between you, the adoptive parents, and your child.
Abortion. Abortion presents many women the most agonizing choice. Simply stated, any of the abortion procedures requires a painful decision, even the morning after pill, which may function either contraceptively or abortively. It may also involve spiritual dilemma.
Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute (a prominent family planning research organization), states that abortion has become one of the most common surgical procedures in the nation, although “after all these years, it remains maybe the most highly sensitive issue in our country on the personal and political level.”
Like adoption, abortion is an option for a woman who is not ready or able to parent. It is particularly valuable in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or she has been impregnated against her will. Planning to abort becomes more difficult with time, as the weeks from last menstrual period add up and the risks of the procedure increase.
Grief is a recognized and nearly universal consequence of abortion. Its effects are compounded by secrecy, negative social judgments, and the expectation that a woman will act as if nothing has happened. At either extreme, some women are always haunted by having had an abortion, and others view it in hindsight as one of the best decisions of their lives.
Women who live in the Chicago area have access to Project Rachel, a healing program designed specifically to help those who are experiencing emotional pains from a past abortion. Project Rachel is a sensitive, nonjudgmental, confidential and free program that includes counseling, prayer, and scripture. Call 1.888.456.HOPE for more information.
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