By Alisha Woodall
Very rarely does a woman come to her appointment for a pregnancy test and options counseling alone. She may bring her friend, cousin, neighbor, brother, boyfriend, or even both her parents and the baby’s father’s parents.
That’s when things can get interesting, especially when there are opposing views on what decision should be made about the baby. But FirstLook is prepared and glad to serve each person who comes to the appointment with our client.
We can recount at least three different situations where the expectant couple wanted to parent, but their parents, the grandparents of the baby, were adamant that their daughter have an abortion.
To ensure that the client’s voice is heard and to educate, equip, and empower her foremostly, we always meet with the woman alone first before bringing anyone else in. We want to listen and hear what she has to say.
- Sixteen-year-old honor student Kara was scared but very certain that she wanted to carry her baby. She shared with us that she had been with her boyfriend since they were 14 years old, and he was supportive, reassuring her, “We’ll get through this.” She even told us that she had already found a daycare that could watch her baby while she worked and continued her education through college. But her mother was insistent on abortion. “It’s just too much for me,” Kara’s mother explained to us. “My daughter thinks she is ready, but she’s not, and her plan won’t work for her to go to college, and she IS going to college!”
- Fifteen-year-old only child Morgan was timid but very resolute that she wanted to have her baby. Morgan arrived at her appointment with four other people: the father of her baby, his mother, and her mother and father. In this situation, it was three versus two, with her boyfriend and his mother on her side and both her parents against her, trying to force her to abort. Morgan’s mother explained that they didn’t want to risk passing a hereditary illness down to this baby, and didn’t want their daughter to have a hard life. Her father was irate, pacing the waiting room muttering repeatedly, “She’s NOT having this baby!”
- Twenty-one-year-old Navarro student Taylor was concerned but very protective of her decision to parent her baby. Taylor reminded us of Rahab and the Egyptian midwives in the Old Testament willing to tell a lie in order to save a life. Taylor and her boyfriend allowed her mother to believe FirstLook was an abortion clinic and also told her that the appointment was an hour later than it actually was. As soon as Taylor and her boyfriend arrived, they explained their situation and asked to be taken out of the waiting room immediately in case her mother arrived early. When her mother arrived and realized that FirstLook was a pregnancy help clinic and not an abortion clinic, she stormed out slamming the door behind her.
In all three situations, we at FirstLook are so thankful that these women facing such pressure came to us for help. After meeting with the expectant parents, we were happy to meet with their parents and educate them on their daughters’ rights and also to listen to their concerns while offering hope that healthy outcomes can arise from the situation.
The United States Supreme Court makes it clear that an abortion decision by a minor must be hers, and must be free, independent, voluntary, and non-coerced. (See Bellotti v. Baird. 443 U.S. 622 (1979).) To force, coerce, or pressure a daughter to have an abortion could subject the parent(s) to the criminal charge of fetal homicide. (See, for example, Lawrence v. State, 211 S. W .3d 883, 884-85 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2006)). Force, excessive coercion, or duress may also be subject to prosecution of child abuse. Both the parent(s) and the abortionist could be held liable for various civil torts such as battery, negligence, false imprisonment, or other claims. The parents cannot kick their minor daughter out of their house because they still have the legal duty to care for their daughter, protect and provide for her.
Without you and your support of FirstLook, these expectant mothers and their families would not have received the education and help they needed.