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Talking About Coersion

Do you talk about coercion in the consultation room?

Abortion Coercion refers to the act of using force, threats, or intimidation to pressure a woman into choosing abortion against her will. This can take many forms, including physical force, threats of violence or harm, emotional blackmail, or financial pressure. Coercion can undermine an individual's right to make their own reproductive health decisions and can have serious physical, emotional, and psychological consequences.

Abortion Coercion can be damaging to a woman's emotional state for several reasons:

  • Loss of Autonomy: When a woman is coerced or pressured into having an abortion against her will, she can lose her sense of autonomy and control over her own life, which can have long-lasting effects on her emotional and psychological well-being.

  • Trauma: Coercion adds to the already emotionally traumatic experience. The trauma is compounded when the individual pressuring her is someone whom she expects to protect and support her, such as a partner or parent. It can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues.

  • Strain on Relationships: Abortion strains relationships but adding coercion into the mix can create a wound where trust is often eroded or completely lost. Women will often feel a sense of betrayal, especially if the coercion came from someone they trusted, such as a partner, family member, or friend. This can lead to difficulty forming close relationships in the future.

  • Feelings of Isolation: The emotional toll of abortion coercion can cause the woman to feel intensely alone and hopeless. Women who have been pressured into having an abortion may feel like they cannot talk to anyone about what they have been through, which can lead to feelings of isolation. They may also feel like they have lost their support system, especially if those they should have been able to trust were the ones coercing them.

Discussing the topic of coercion should be part of every options consultation. It is important to acknowledge that women may not be aware that they are being coerced or may feel too ashamed or afraid to speak up. By addressing the topic of coercion in a non-judgmental and supportive way, advocates can create an environment where women feel comfortable sharing their experiences and seeking help if needed.

Looking for resources? The Justice Foundation is a great resource for staff training and practical resources. Check them out here.


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