The following is not intended as legal advice. It is provided solely to inform pregnant women in Minnesota of some of their rights. (If you live elsewhere, find out your state’s laws about fetal homicide and informed consent.)
A choice is not a choice if it is the only choice you are given.
Yet when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy, women are often pressured to “choose” some path that they don’t want to take. In one important study,[1. VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16 (2004)] women reported an appalling lack of choice:
- 64% of women reported feeling pressured to abort.
- Most felt rushed or uncertain, yet 67% weren’t counseled.
- 79% weren’t told of available resources.
- 84% weren’t sufficiently informed before abortion.
If you are feeling pressured into making a decision against your will, read on to learn how you can push back.
Voluntary and Informed Consent
Here in Minnesota, as in a majority of states, women must give “voluntary and informed consent” before an abortion can take place. (Read the law here.) Anyone who pushes you into getting an abortion without your fully informed permission is breaking the law. “Informed” means you know the facts about:
- fetal development (how the unborn child in your womb grows)
- abortion methods and their risks
- potential medical and emotional aftereffects of abortion
- childbirth and its risks
- resources available to you for pregnancy, childbirth and newborn care
- adoption options
- the responsibilities of the father of your unborn child
These facts are available online from the Minnesota Department of Health. (Go to https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/wrtk/statute.html .)
For a free copy of the same informative booklet, stop by Choices Pregnancy Center today. We would be happy to answer any and all questions you have about these facts.
Only You Decide
People who genuinely care about you, like parents or school counselors or your friends, naturally want to step in and “fix” your uncomfortable situation. But when you became pregnant, some important changes occurred:
- Your status before the law changed. You are now the mother of an unborn child. The Supreme Court case Bellotti v. Baird ruled that even a minor has a right to make “an abortion decision” on her own. For this to be an actual “decision,” you must be equally free to choose not to get an abortion.
- Anyone other than you (and an abortionist you willingly choose to hire) who brings about the death of your unborn child is guilty of murder, according to Minnesota Statute 609.2661.
While it is always wise to consider the advice of people you trust, the final decision is up to you. If their advice goes against your own convictions, you have the right to choose not to follow it.
You, the mother, have a right NOT to be coerced into any decision.
Coercion is a Crime
Minnesota Statute 609.27 says someone is guilty of coercing you if he or she “orally or in writing makes any of the following threats and thereby causes another against the other’s will to do any act or forbear doing a lawful act.” Coercive threats include:
- threatening physical harm to you or someone else
- threatening to hold you or someone else in confinement
- threatening to damage your property or someone else’s
- threatening to damage your reputation by exposing you to disgrace or ridicule
- threatening to make a criminal charge against you (whether true or false)
“If You Don’t Have an Abortion, I’m Going To . . .”
Threats like this can be a form of coercion, and therefore a crime. We know of women who have been threatened with:
- “We’ll kick you out of the house.”
- “I’ll tell [Person X] what you did.”
- “I’ll leave you.”
- “You’ll never get a penny from me to raise this kid.”
- “I will beat you or push you downstairs so the baby dies.”
We realize that all these threats can very easily turn into reality. As soon as someone threatens you, trying to force you into an abortion decision against your will, they are committing coercion.
You have the right to seek protection through law enforcement or with the help of social services. You can also contact New Horizons Crisis Center in Redwood Falls for help.
How Choices Pregnancy Center Can Help You
At Choices, we do not give legal advice. However, we can connect you with people who do. In addition, we can provide:
- A safe place to privately ask for help if you are being coerced–and if you are trapped in trafficking.
- Documents you can give to the people who are pressuring you. These will inform them of your rights as your baby’s mother, and of the risks they face if they persist in trying to coerce you.
- A legally recognized document to record your wishes about your pregnancy. Having this in writing can help protect you if someone tries to take you to an abortionist against your will, preventing you from speaking your mind at the time.
- Factual information about all your pregnancy options.
Choices Pregnancy Center does not benefit financially from any choice you make about your unborn child. That leaves us free to encourage you to act in keeping with your own values and long-term goals.
After you visit with our staff, you’ll feel confident that you have made a choice you can live with.
Making abortion legal didn’t make abortion the best–or only–choice for you.
You alone can decide about that. Come in and get the support you need. We’re here to make sure you have real choices.