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Coerced to have an abortion

Britney Spears’ unwanted abortion sheds light on pressure women often face

Britney Spears speaks at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 11, 2012. Associated Press/Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision

Coerced to have an abortion
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Britney Spears broke the internet again last week—this time with a heartbreaking story of loss and regret—a story that too many women share. Unlike some celebrities, Britney has never been shy about her personal life. The public has been privy to many highs and lows of the “Baby One More Time” singer over the past 25 years, whether through her own prolific use of social media or the media’s obsession with the troubled pop icon. But in her forthcoming memoir, The Woman in Me, Britney shares a deeply personal experience for the first time. It’s incredibly sad.

In her new book, Britney explains that she had an abortion against her wishes, describing it as “one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life.” Britney tells how she was pressured by her then-boyfriend Justin Timberlake into having the abortion. She writes that the pregnancy “was a surprise, but for me, it wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated. But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young.”

Too young. Not ready to be parents.

The solution? An abortion to get rid of the baby.

Simple enough. Problem solved.

Yet that decision, along with the pressure to do it, has haunted the 41-year-old pop star for decades.

And as tragic as Britney’s story is, it isn’t uncommon. Countless other women have shared their own painful accounts of being pressured to terminate their pregnancy because it wasn’t convenient or what their partner wanted.

In fact, the Charlotte Lozier Institute recently found that more than 60 percent of women who had abortions faced “high levels of pressure to abort.” And those same women report higher levels of subsequent mental health and quality of life problems. In the study, only one-third of women with a history of abortion said that they had wanted the abortion. And 60 percent of women “reported they would have preferred to give birth if they had received more support from others or had more financial security.” This last finding is supported by other data finding that most women with an abortion history say that they would have chosen life if circumstances were better.

No one likes to feel like they don’t have a real choice or were pressured into making a decision even on the small things in life. It goes without saying that no woman should ever be forced to make the consequential and irreversible decision to end the life of her unborn child—a valuable and unique baby that she can never replace.

Britney’s story flips the “my body my choice” pro-abortion script. For so many women, that slogan is painfully untrue.

Britney’s story flips the “my body my choice” pro-abortion script. For so many women, that slogan is painfully untrue. Abortion providers and advocates cannot claim to be pro-woman when the majority of women who resort to abortion feel pressured to do so. That is not real choice.

Instead, we must empower women with support, choices, and information. Every woman deserves the dignity and respect that comes from receiving life-affirming health care—not the abortion industry’s false choice between doing what’s best for the mother (or father) and protecting the life of her child.

Thankfully, there are thousands of pregnancy centers across the nation ready to support women by providing free material resources like housing, diapers, baby clothes, cribs, and car seats, as well as parenting classes and other forms of educational, financial, emotional, and professional support. Importantly, pregnancy centers also provide training for fathers so that women will be supported by their partners and children will benefit from the love and care of both parents.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion profiteers would like America to think that women should “shout their abortion.” They tell women that they can move on with their lives as though they were never pregnant. But the sad, news-making story of Britney’s unwanted, coerced abortion underscores the silent pain and psychological trauma so many women suffer.

There are “Britneys” around us every day. From teenage girls to successful women climbing the corporate ladder who are faced with unexpected pregnancies and have a decision to make. Who is speaking into their lives? Who will they listen to? Those who lie to them for personal gain or those who lovingly speak truth? I pray it’s the body of Christ who steps up and surrounds them with tender loving care, grace, and acceptance. I pray we are the ones who believe in every woman’s potential, who show up for expectant moms at ultrasound appointments, plan baby showers, volunteer at pregnancy care centers, offer free babysitting, invite these moms and babies into our homes and our lives, and affirm the incredible joy and blessing of being a mother.

Erin Hawley

Erin Hawley is a wife, mom of three, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, and a law professor at Regent University School of Law.

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