Every woman’s experience of an unplanned pregnancy is unique. Your experience will largely depend on your life situation and whether you feel ready or prepared to have a child. Your experience will also depend on your beliefs about abortion and whether you have support from those around you to make the right decision for you.
Who knows what’s best for me?
|You may have had certain opinions about abortion up until this point in your life. You may also find that this situation challenges or changes some of those opinions.|
Some women say that it was only by being in the situation that they could work out what was right for them. Some compare themselves to other women’s stories and feel guilty for not being able to make the choices that other women made. The key to understanding and accepting your own decision is being kind to yourself. You have to accept that you are the only expert on what is right for you at this point in your life.
It is important to try to separate everyone else’s beliefs and opinions about abortion from your own. The struggle is to work out what you really feel and believe, rather than the voices and opinions of others that can get stuck in your head.
Do I have the right to make this decision?
|Women are often told by others what the best option is for them and their pregnancy. As a result, women often face conflict when they choose whether to have an abortion.|
But you are the best person to make the decision about the future of your pregnancy because you know how your own life will be affected. Your life will be directly affected by each of the options: continuing the pregnancy, giving birth and becoming a mother, going through with the medical procedures involved in an abortion or having a baby and deciding for adoption. Nobody else in the world knows your situation, strengths, resources and limitations better than you. It is your right to make decisions about the direction of your life. It is also your responsibility to make decisions about what you are capable of.
Is it selfish? Am I a bad person?
|It is very common for women to wonder about the selfishness of their decision. It is important for women to understand that making a decision about them and their lives is not a selfish act. Rather, weighing up your options and making the most reasonable decision you can about you, your life and your ability to parent is the responsible thing to do.|
Women are often taught that their role is about giving and serving others. But more women are finding that it is good to be concerned about themselves, their development and their future – that these are all part of the journey to becoming a full person.2 It is important to see the difference between selfishness and self-care.
Millions of women throughout the world and across history have decided that abortion was the best thing they could choose in their situation.3
Is abortion murder?
|There are many ways to consider this question depending on a person’s viewpoint. For example, the law, medicine, religion and culture will answer this question differently. People who wish to make women feel guilty for their decision often use the term murder to describe abortion. It does not have a legal or medical basis.|
In the law, an act of murder describes the killing of a living person. It is not the term to describe the ending of a pregnancy. In Victoria abortion is legal and the fetus gains the legal rights of a person only after it is born.
Religions vary in their views about the date at which a fetus is considered a living person. Most religions have a range of beliefs about abortion. There is often also a belief about the individual’s conscience and the role it plays in deciding the ethics of a situation.
Some people think the fetus becomes a person when it no longer depends upon the mother for its physical life support.4 If you are worried about the ending of a ‘potential life’ through abortion, it is important you work out:
- your belief about when life begins
- in which circumstances you believe it is ok to make a decision to end a ‘potential life’.
|Choosing abortion doesn’t mean women don’t care about a potential child. However women are very conscious of the responsibilities of being a mother. They may feel it’s something they’re not capable of at this time in their lives. Esther says:|
|‘[I made the decision] for everyone concerned. For the people around me, for myself, for the person-to-be, the child, you know, and for the planet. All, for all of these reasons, it can be a decision that’s – even though it’s an awful decision to make, it can be the greatest, the greatest way to show your love.’5|
|Describing abortion as an act of murder detracts from the responsibility and care with which women make a very difficult decision in their lives.|
- Pastoral Care & Spirituality Services at the Women’s (referral from the Pregnancy Advisory Service)
- For more information and references on abortion and religious perspectives see Pro Choice Victoria
|1. We acknowledge various references for the concepts in this information sheet including Children by Choice, Pregnancy Advisory Centre, Fertility Control Clinic, Johnson, M & Baker, A. See Bibliography for full bibliographic details.|
2. Children by Choice, ‘Ethical Dimensions of Decision-Making About Unplanned Pregnancy Decisions: Information Kit Series No.12’, Queensland, 2004.
3. Adapted with permission from ‘Abortion: commonly asked questions’, Johnston, Margaret R, ‘Pregnancy Options Workbook’, Ferre Institute, New York, USA, <http://www.pregnancyoptions.info>, viewed 9 June 2010.
5. Rosenthal, D et al, ‘Understanding Women’s Experiences of Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion’, Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society, University of Melbourne, 2009, p.24.
6. Adapted with permission from ‘Abortion: commonly asked questions’, Johnston, Margaret R, ‘Pregnancy Options Workbook’, Ferre Institute, New York, USA, <http://www.pregnancyoptions.info>, viewed 9 June 2010.