Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pregnancy Center Referral Could Have Prevented Forced Abortion

On June 4th ABC news reported the story of Caitlin Bruce, a twenty-year old woman who recently filed a lawsuit against abortionist Abraham Hodari of the Feminine Health Care Clinic in Flint, Michigan. Caitlin went to the clinic seeking an abortion, but claims that as soon as she felt Hodari start the abortion procedure, she changed her mind and begged him to stop. Instead of stopping, she alleges that Hodari and his staff pinned her down, covered her mouth to muffle her screams, and forcibly aborted her baby. Of course, Hodari alleges that Caitlin changed her mind too late and that he had no choice but “to finish what he started.”

As I read Caitlin’s story, I was gripped not only by the horror of her experience in the abortion clinic, but also by a fact no one denies—no one helped Caitlin choose life for her baby, though she desperately wanted to do so.

Caitlin was only 18 when she became pregnant. She was dating a significantly older man, unemployed, and without a high school diploma, but was trying to make a life for herself. It was Caitlin’s father who convinced her to have the abortion. ABC News reported that Caitlin “had doubts about the abortion from the beginning, describing her emotions after finding out about the pregnancy as excited and nervous at the same time.” She told ABC News, “I was really confused, asking everybody else what I should do. Everybody told me, ‘You were too young.’ What I really wanted to hear was, ‘We'll help you out.’” How sad for Caitlin that no one she knew was willing to help her.

After she viewed a sonogram of her six week old unborn baby in the abortion clinic, her doubts about the abortion intensified. “I sat in the room for like five minutes and cried,” she said. Soon after her abortion, Caitlin fell into severe depression. At one point she even drove to the top of a hill and prepared to kill herself by driving her car over the cliff. A timely call from her mother saved her life, but even today she still struggles with depression.

Caitlin’s story reflects what we in the pregnancy center movement know all too well—that no woman truly wants and an abortion. Instead, they often feel pressured into abortion by others, and quite likely lack accurate information about fetal development or about the physical and emotion consequences of abortion. Women can also experience severe depression following an abortion, a fact recently recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart.

While I am horrified to hear of Caitlin’s experience in the abortion clinic, I am equally troubled that Caitlin ended up in the abortion clinic in the first place. Caitlin’s story is particularly tragic because less than a mile from the abortion clinic was a pregnancy center that would have told Caitlin the one thing she desperately wanted to hear: “We’ll help you out.”

The statement “We’ll help you out” reflects the very essence of pregnancy centers. All too often, pregnancy centers are the only ones women can turn to for help. They affirm a woman’s decision for life and assure her that no circumstances should force her into having an abortion.

Just as Caitlin expressed, this is all women need to hear. It is no wonder that 95% of all pregnant women who walk into a Care Net pregnancy center choose life for their baby! But, it is tragic that Caitlin never found a center. I am convinced that had Caitlin been referred to her local pregnancy center, she never would have undergone her horrid abortion experience. She would have been confident in her decision for life long before she ended up on the abortion table.

I hope that Caitlin’s story will encourage others to offer help and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies so that no other woman has to share in Caitlin’s experience. Care Net and Heartbeat International jointly operate a 24/7 call center called Option Line that is designed to assist women like Caitlin. You can do your part by memorizing the Option Line phone number, 1-800-395-HELP, and encouraging any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy to call and receive help.

Jeanneane Maxon is General Counsel for Care Net.


T said...

This is such a sad story. Pregnancy Center ministry is vitally important! Well written Jeanneane.