Deciding whether to have an abortion or not is one of the most important and impactful decisions a woman can make. A life is at stake. There are different versions of the future snaking out from that one choice that could be radically different. Making that decision involves many factors and it can seem like an impossible choice, but with some deep thought and debate, it can be made properly.
Thankfully, in the UK, there is a lot of support for women who are trying to decide whether to have an abortion. Every hospital and clinic that offers abortion has counsellors whose job it is to help the pregnant woman make the right choice.
For some pregnant women, the choice is easier than others. If her life is in danger, or her long-term mental and/or physical health is threatened, then abortions are both legal and usually recommended. Should the foetus have died, there is little choice but to abort it and try again. Cases of severe abnormality or disability provide clear choices; if the child will have a terrible quality of life, might not survive birth, or will not live outside the womb, then an abortion is often the only option.
Developmental problems like Down’s syndrome are legal grounds for abortion. However, there are many people with conditions like these that have good qualities of life and life fulfilling existences. Disabilities campaigners have fought for a long time for the rights of a disabled foetus, arguing that they should be given a chance at life at least. Many parents find that their lives caring for a disabled child is very fulfilling.
On the other hand, a life looking after a disabled child can be exhausting, upsetting, and very limiting. If a mother has a choice to abort the foetus and try again for a healthier one, they often take that option. A world with healthy and able children is seen by many as preferable to the vast time and resources that are needed to care for children with severe disabilities, who often have very poor qualities of life.
Rape or Incest
Carrying a child who is the product of being raped in your womb for 9 months is a uniquely disturbing prospect. Many women who find themselves pregnant after being raped choose to abort the foetus.
It can be a difficult choice, however, because feelings of sympathy for that unborn child are common. It is not the fault of that foetus that they were conceived in a traumatic way, so why destroy their potential because of the actions of someone else?
In the UK, it is legal to abort a pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest because it is seen as protection of the mother’s long term mental health.
Predicting the Future
Nobody knows how the future will turn out. Some mothers who never intended to get pregnant, or had a child at the start of a career, or had a child too young, find that it is the best thing that ever happened to them. Their maternal instincts kick in and they enjoy motherhood and all that it brings.
Other women find that the opposite is true. They might have dreamt of exciting careers, travelling, having children later with a different partner, or the freedom of not having a child. It can be hard to admit, but many women harbour feelings of sadness, anger, and regret for not having an abortion. This is very difficult to deal with, as they usually love their children more than anything else. Conflicted emotions and thoughts towards their baby are common.
Getting Help Making a Decision
The support of friends, family, and medical professionals is essential to making informed decisions. Pressure from family and friends can be frustrating, but most people have good enough friends that they will get the help they need.
Talking to people who have had an abortion is a good way to see how you might feel about the decision later. Children who might have been aborted but are now living happy lives are also very informative.
There is counselling available for women who are seeking abortions. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can make it difficult to make good decisions. The fear of the future can seem overwhelming and uncertain. Talking it through with a qualified counsellor usually helps settle the decision in a way that will not be regretted.
There is so much involved with this decision. Can you stand the thought of wondering who that baby might have been for the rest of your life? Can you provide for them, even if it is not what you imagined? Do they have a chance of a good life? If you stay with the pregnancy, can you give the up to some loving parents? Is yours or their life at risk?
Most women regret having an abortion to some degree. Often it is easy to rationalise in logical terms but the emotional side is much harder to convince. It seems that the best decision is the one that does least harm.