This article was originally published in the Christian Post.
When she was 18 years old, Kathy Rutledge conceded to do what everyone in her family agreed had to be done. With a college scholarship and bright future awaiting her, there simply was no room for an unexpected child. Everyone agreed, Rutledge had to “get rid of it.”
“It,” they urged, was not a baby, but “blob of tissue.” Confused and scared, Rutledge complied and went with her mother to a hospital to get an abortion. But, as the procedure began, Rutledge suddenly had second thoughts. She told the nurse she had changed her mind and turned to get off the table. The nurse said it was “too late,” shoved Rutledge back onto the table, and put her to sleep.
When Rutledge woke up, she was in violent labor and soon delivered a small, lifeless form. To her horror, though, what she saw was not some indistinguishable “blob.” It was a clearly identifiable baby with a painful grimace etched on its perfectly formed face.
Horrified, Rutledge screamed, “It’s not supposed to be a baby yet! They said it wasn’t a baby yet!” She became hysterical and inconsolable – and, for the better part of three decades, struggled to come to terms with what she had done that day. She wrestled constantly with depression, suicidal thoughts and grief.
This is the reality feminists never reveal. They appear at pro-life marches like the one Thursday in D.C., or the local march my family attended last Sunday in Chicago. They wave signs declaring, “Pro-Life, That’s a Lie. You Don’t Care if Women Die” – and shout slogans about respecting a woman’s right to choose. But, if they have done any research at all, they know the truth: abortion is rarely a free and informed choice. And, it doesn’t promote a mother’s life; it destroys it.
According to a 2004 study published in the Medical Science Monitor, 64% of women who abort felt pressured to do so and 84% say they did not receive adequate counseling. Sometimes, as in Rutledge’s case, this pressure comes from family members. But, it also can come from employers, school counselors, husbands and boyfriends – and at times, can escalate into violence and even murder. Shockingly, a study done by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women, accounting for 20% of their deaths!
Psychiatrist Dr. Martha Shuping is an expert in post-abortion issues and has been counseling post-abortive women for more than 30 years. She says these findings match her experience.
“Over and over, I’m seeing women who have had abortions to please other people, or because of pressure from other people, or sometimes, even forced abortions,” Shuping said. “These are women who would have preferred to have kept their child… (but) they’re told, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal, you’ll be fine.’ And, afterwards, they find out they’re not fine. They really have a serious regret about what they’ve done.”
Research compiled by the Elliot Institute affirms that women are profoundly hurt by abortion. They are six times more likely to commit suicide and 65% more likely to be at risk of long-term clinical depression. They are also more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment; to suffer from sleep disorders, generalized anxiety disorder and eating disorders; and to abuse alcohol and drugs.
Shuping said she once treated a woman who was severely depressed and suicidal because she had aborted a baby she wanted simply to please her husband. Reportedly, the woman and her husband already had two children. But, when she got pregnant with their third, her husband told her he didn’t want any more kids and pressured her to abort. She did. “And, she was devastated by it,” Shuping said. “She had no idea it would have the impact that it did.”
Several months ago, I spoke about abortion at a large, multi-campus church in the suburban Chicago area. Afterwards, I received an email from a woman, Jessica Schuessler, who described a similarly coercive and destructive abortion.
“I got pregnant at 14 and was actually happy and excited about being pregnant,” she wrote. “I bought a little onesie and baby name book (and) highlighted my favorite names.” But, when Schuessler’s mom found out, she “completely flipped.” “It was less than a month before I was starting high school and she said the school doesn’t allow pregnant girls.”
Schuessler’s mom then threatened to kick Schuessler out of the house, divorce her father, turn her family against her, and even commit suicide if Schuessler didn’t get an abortion. “I never agreed to have an abortion,” she writes, “but believe I went into some form of shock where I didn’t even respond. My mom scheduled (the abortion) and days later it was done. . . . I was unbelievably shattered and will always regret allowing myself and my baby to be led off like a sheep to the slaughter and not stopping it.”
This is not “choice.” Abortion is wholesale criminal coercion. Literally, hundreds of thousands of women today are being forced to act as accomplices in the murder of their own children and by extension, their own souls. It’s a stunning capitulation of everything feminism once promoted. Instead of protecting women and what they hold most dear, feminists now serve as the main means of deception, convincing women to do something that violates every feminine impulse. This needs to stop.
The Stop Forced Abortions Alliance is working to pass model legislation that would require doctors, before scheduling an abortion, to screen women for coercion and other risk factors for psychological complications. So far, two states – South Dakota and Nebraska – have passed laws loosely based on this model legislation.
These laws are helpful, but they’re not enough. How can one truly ascertain whether a person is being pressured or not? Plus, asking abortion doctors to weed out these women is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. As long as abortion is legal, this coercion and devastation will continue. And, women like Kathy Rutledge will be forced to participate in something they know is morally abhorrent.
“There’s too much confusion,” Rutlege said, “too many people telling you, ‘This is the best way,’ ‘This is the only way,’ ‘This is what you have to do,’… It’s all barbaric.”