Why Do Women Really Want Abortions? It’s Important to Know

Opinion   |   Monica Snyder   |   Dec 30, 2013   |   10:39AM   |   Washington, DC

A follower recently posted this clip to Secular Pro-Life’s Facebook page and asked for our thoughts.

The clip is not new–it’s from the fall of 2012–but it’s worth considering.
My first reaction was disgust at this PR disaster. An older, white male talking about how he’s never even thought about why a woman would want an abortion? This is a politician who is sponsoring legislation to restrict abortion, who has accepted media invitations to discuss said legislation, and he’s never even thought about why a woman would want an abortion?
I’m sure there are plenty of issues on which Rachel Maddow and I disagree, but she makes a completely valid point here. If Rep. Buchy is going to work to outlaw abortion, it might be useful to him to spend some time understanding why hundreds of thousands of women seek abortion every year. And if he’s not going to try to understand why this happens or show a bit of empathy for the women involved, I sure would appreciate it if he’d stop accepting media invitations to speak about abortion.
In my opinion, there are three main strategies to decrease abortion:
  1. Outlaw abortion.
  2. Change hearts and minds regarding the nature of the unborn.
  3. Eliminate the reasons women want to get abortion in the first place.

I’m not sure how far we can get with strategy #1 if we don’t also work toward #2 & #3. What’s more, strategy #3 is the strategy on which we ought to be able to work together with everyone to achieve. Although each side has different reasons, in general both pro-lifers and pro-choicers want to decrease abortion. It would be great if that general desire to decrease abortion could translate to solidarity in creating a society more supportive of both mothers in particular and women in general. The first step toward such a society is understanding what women need to be supported, so they don’t feel they must resort to abortion in the first place.

So why do women get abortions? According to research by Guttmacher:

The most common subreason given was that the woman could not afford a baby now because she was unmarried (42%). Thirty-eight percent indicated that having a baby would interfere with their education, and the same proportion said it would interfere with their employment. In a related vein, 34% said they could not afford a child because they were students or were planning to study.

Guttmacher also goes on to talk about other common reasons, including concerns about single parenthood, current relationships, being able to continue to care for other dependents, risks to fetal and maternal health, and more. Even so, these are pretty broad responses. To get a more personal perspective on why women choose abortion, consider these 26 stories from New York Magazine.

I read each one. Some of them I found heartbreaking, others enraging, but my overall takeaway was that there are a lot of factors that affect whether a woman chooses to abort, and we can do more to alleviate many of them.

To be clear, I don’t think strategy #3 on its own will be enough. Even if we did create a society in which no woman felt she needed an abortion, abortion should still generally be illegal because it should be illegal to kill other human beings.



But either way, while the pro-life movement debates incremental approaches versus sweeping legislation and struggles to get even 2nd trimester restrictions passed, we can at least work where there should be the least resistance: creating a society where women have better resources for avoiding unwanted pregnancies and better support for carrying wanted ones.

LifeNews Note: Monica Snyder writes for Secular Pro-Life.