By Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com Editor
Women who refuse requests from their husbands or boyfriends to have abortions are often finding themselves subject to violent attacks that sometimes result in their deaths. That’s the finding of a new report from the Elliot Institute, which calls the problem a “widespread epidemic.”
The new report, Forced Abortion in America, is drawing attention to attacks on pregnant women and girls in order to prevent them from continuing their pregnancies.
It points out a “widespread epidemic of unwanted, coerced and forced abortions taking place in the United States.”
The report notes how research suggests most abortions are likely unwanted or coerced, with one survey of women who had abortions finding that 64 percent said they felt pressured by others to abort.
The same survey found 80 percent of women said they did not receive the counseling they needed to make a decision — even though more than half said they felt rushed or uncertain about the abortion.
The consequences for those who refuse abortion can be dangerous and even deadly, according to the report, which details cases of women and girls facing violent attacks or murder for resisting abortion.
Studies of death rates among pregnant women in the U.S. have found that homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women, the authors say.
The cases detailed in the report represent only a fraction of the more than 200 cases the Elliot Institute has on file of women and girls being attacked or killed with the intent of getting rid of the pregnancy. The updated report contains new cases as well as a new special section on teens and forced abortion.
Among the new cases added to the report:
* A Kansas man and his wife were convicted of sexual abuse after the man raped his stepdaughters over a several year period, resulting in four pregnancies and at least one abortion, performed on an 11-year-old. The case was reported to authorities by a pro-life organization after one of the girls visited their office seeking an abortion; the group says that the abortion business did the abortion without informing authorities of any suspected abuse.
* Two Ohio teenagers were convicted for kidnapping and assaulting a pregnant teen, killing her unborn child. Police said one of the boys thought he had fathered the child, and the two hit the teen and kicked her the abdomen to cause the death of her 8-month-old unborn child. One of them allegedly told her that she should have gotten an abortion, and that “now your baby is going to die.” DNA tests showed the teen was not the father.
* A man was sentenced to 9 years in prison for secretly giving his wife an abortion-inducing drug after she refused to abort. The woman secretly taped him admitting to giving her the drug but trying to convince her that she really wanted to have an abortion.
* A high school junior was beaten to death by her 22-year-old boyfriend after she refused to have an abortion. According to police, the man hit the teen at least four times on the head with a bat and admitted he did not want her to have the baby. He pleaded guilty after leading police to the girl’s body, which he had buried under leaves in the woods. The man was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.
“Our files contain hundreds of stories from women and girls who were attacked or killed with the intent of getting rid of the pregnancy,” said Elliot Institute spokesperson Amy Sobie.
She told LifeNews.com, “We’ve been collecting these stories for more than six years through mainstream media sources and pro-life organizations who have been diligently reporting on these kinds of cases. The information is out there, but many people aren’t aware of what might be going on in their own communities.”
Sobie said people might not immediately connect this with abortion because in many cases the woman or girl never makes it to an abortion center — she’s attacked or killed before she even gets there.
“In our opinion, the availability of abortion makes it easier for those around her to think that she shouldn’t be having this baby, and gives those with an interest in getting rid of the unborn child a justification for doing so,” she said.
Some of the new cases included in the report involve assailants using abortifacients or other drugs to secretly induce an abortion. For example, in several cases the attackers secretly put the RU-486 abortion drug in their wives’ or girlfriends’ food or drink with the intent of killing the unborn child.
In addition to destroying the life of the unborn child and subjecting the mother to the emotional trauma of the loss of her child, these attacks may also put the mother at risk of physical problems without her being aware of it. Side effects of RU-486 include hemorrhaging, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, painful cramping, heart problems, infections and death of the mother.
And the availability of the drug may make it easier for those who want to cause an abortion to do so without the need to use pressure, intimidation or force to get the mother to an abortion business — putting more women and girls at risk.
Other new cases focus on pregnancy discrimination by employers, schools and others that can make women feel they have no choice but to abort.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics found that student athletes conceal pregnancy, feel forced into abortion or fear losing financial aid because of pregnancy, which could jeopardize their ability to stay in school.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently settled cases with two large U.S. companies for refusing to hire a pregnant applicant and firing an employee who became pregnant.
“Pressure may also come from bosses, school counselors and others who see a pregnancy as a threat to the woman’s ability to do her job or continue her education,” Sobie said. “The EEOC has reported an increase in the number of pregnancy discrimination complaints filed against employees, and a number of large companies have settled or are facing lawsuits over claims they fired or demoted female workers who became pregnant.”
Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon said that cases of women being pressured, threatened, or subjected to violence if they refuse to abort are not unusual. He pointed out that studies have shown that homicide is the leading killer of pregnant women in the U.S. and that women in abusive relationships are at risk for increased violence during pregnancy.
“In many of the cases documented for this report, police and witnesses reported that acts of violence and murder took place after the woman refused to abort or because the attacker didn’t want the pregnancy,” he said. “Even if a woman isn’t physically threatened, she often faces intense pressure, abandonment, lack of support, or emotional blackmail if she doesn’t abort. While abortion is often described as a ‘choice,’ women who’ve been there tell a very different story.”
Reardon said the report underscores the need for legislation, like that recently passed in Nebraska, holding abortion businesses liable for failing to screen women for evidence of coercion or pressure to abort and to direct them to people and resources that can help them.
“Too often, abortion clinics and others simply assume that if a woman is coming for an abortion, it is her free choice,” he said. “This ‘no questions asked’ policy is especially harmful to those in abusive situations, including young girls who are victims of sexual predators. Women should not be forced into unwanted abortions and subjected to violence or pressure from others.”