When it comes to helping victims of sexual abuse, abortion advocates present abortion as the only logical choice. They say it helps victims of rape, relieving their trauma and keeping them safe; some even go so far as to say that carrying the child would repeat the trauma the woman has already endured. Even some pro-life advocates think abortion is advisable in these cases.
In reality, abortion is not a solution for abuse. Indeed, it’s often used as a tool by abusers to protect themselves. Even abortion providers are often complicit in sexual exploitation and actively aid in covering up rape, trafficking, and sexual abuse.
Abortion Does Not Help Victims
In the case of rape, abortion is often seen as a way for victims to get rid of reminders of their trauma. Women who choose to abort usually do so to distance themselves from the event and what they often see as a tainted child. Usually, it is assumed that abortion in these cases will help them begin to heal.
Despite this, research has shown that abortion’s effects on women’s mental health is not always positive. Even when women haven’t experienced the additional trauma of sexual abuse, abortion can often lead to the development of many symptoms of post-traumatic stress. This is commonly referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome.
For women who choose to abort after rape, factors that contribute to this are even more common. Research has shown, for example, that many women who aborted their children after rape felt pressured into it. For other women, abortion is a knee-jerk reaction to the revulsion they feel to anything associated with their trauma. As those feelings fade, abortion can often lead to a lasting sense of grief and regret.
There is little proper research done on victims of rape and their feelings after an abortion. According to the surveys we have, however, nearly 80% of rape victims who had an abortion later regretted their decision. By contrast, more than 80% of women who did not abort after rape were happy that they had continued the pregnancy. Most women who had abortions said that the abortion only worsened their trauma.
A possible contributing factor to post-abortion trauma is that for women who do not wish to abort, the pressure to do so can be enormous. In most cases, not only the woman but also those around her typically assume that abortion is the only rational choice. This can even lead to suspicion and disbelief of victims’ claims if they do not want an abortion.
Ultimately, victims of abuse usually find that abortion was the wrong decision, hurting more than helping. For this reason, even pro-lifers who believe in exceptions for rape should encourage victims to explore other options.
Abortion Facilitates Abuse
While abortion may not help victims, it is absolutely a tool of abusers. In almost every area of sexual abuse, abortion is used to help maintain control and power. It hides abuse and allows continued exploitation, and is often used as a threat or punishment.
From rapists to traffickers and pimps, abusers often use abortion to hide evidence of their crimes. This is particularly prevalent among minors, who are often forced into abortions by their abusers. Other times abortion is used to satisfy pregnancy fetishes or to help ensure that girls can quickly resume sex work.
Often, abortions are used as leverage as well. Many girls who get pregnant are threatened or punished with forced abortions. In other cases, abortion is used as another method of emotional manipulation.
According to some studies, more than half of trafficking victims have been coerced into at least one abortion. Around 30% have experienced multiple abortions. Some experienced over a dozen. Not only are these girls often subjected to many repeat abortions, but late-term abortions are particularly common. Due to pregnancy fetishes, girls are often made to carry the child for an extended time before being forced to abort.
The health impacts of all this cannot be overstated. According to Stephen Wagner, a director of the Department of Health and Human Services Human Trafficking Program, “The mortality rate for someone in commercial sexual exploitation is 40 times higher than for a non-exploited person of the same age. Helping a victim return to exploitation more quickly by terminating a pregnancy increases the odds of death.”
Ultimately, abortion is essential to sexual trafficking. It provides opportunities to eliminate evidence, manipulate girls, and utilize or eliminate pregnancies when convenient for business. It allows for additional emotional and physical abuse and furthers the manipulation of victims.
Abortion Providers Aid Sexual Abuse
Abortion advocates often view legal abortion as a way of keeping victims of sexual trafficking safe, ensuring abortions are offered by trained providers. These advocates assume that girls will be less likely to suffer health issues and more likely to have contact with professionals trained to help them with their situation. But things don’t always work that way.
Usually, victims of sex trafficking do visit legitimate abortion providers. Nearly 70% of abortions on victims of sex trafficking are performed at abortion clinics. Most of the remainder are provided by abortion providers at their clinics or at home, just off the books. A handful more are provided at hospitals. Of all abortions performed on victims of trafficking, very few, if any, are performed “back alley.”
Ultimately, abortion clinics are one of the most common locations visited by victims of sex trafficking. If abortionists actually cared, their clinics could be an excellent point for abuse detection. In practice, however, abortion providers are far from helpful for victims of sexual trafficking.
Rather than helping girls, abortionists often help cover up abuse. In fact, Planned Parenthood, one of the largest and most reputable providers of abortion, is one of the clinics most visited by victims of sex trafficking because Planned Parenthood doesn’t ask questions and keeps things quiet.
While abortion providers are legally required to report abuse, Planned Parenthood trains their employees to follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” standard. They do not ask about the circumstances of suspicious abortions, particularly for children, and even when they hear details that they are required to report, they often pretend that they did not hear. This is no accident, and in fact appears to be a policy of Planned Parenthood, one their employees are trained in. All this only serves to aid abuse by traffickers and abusers.
However, not only do abortion providers ignore warning signs, often they actively help cover up abuse. They regularly refuse to report incidents where abortions were performed on children, reports which they are required to make. Often, abortion providers deliberately lie to cover up crimes that they know are occurring, even completely falsifying records to avoid having to report child abuse.
Often, abortion clinics have been found coaching girls to invent boyfriends their own age to avoid requirements for abuse reporting. Employees teach girls how to get judicial bypasses and how to keep their parents or guardians in the dark. In one such case (see the undercover video below), Planned Parenthood was found instructing a 14-year-old whose boyfriend was 31 years old on how to lie to a judge to bypass parental notification laws. Many more investigations have found that this is in fact a common behavior of abortion providers.
This sort of thing doesn’t just happen when the girl expresses a desire to keep things confidential, either. More than once, employees have ignored girls who stated directly that they were being forced into having sex and doing things they didn’t want to do. Some of the legal cases of such abuse are particularly chilling, with testimonies from patients noting how they were forced to have abortions against their will, not only by their abusers but by abortionists. One recounts how a girl whose father had abused her was held down and ignored by the staff when she screamed that she didn’t want the abortion, and how the doctor told her, “Shut up and quit that yelling.”
Worse, abortion providers have been found aiding sex traffickers numerous times. In multiple investigations, Planned Parenthood staff instructed men posing as traffickers on how to get their girls abortions without getting caught. Staff instructed the men how to have the girls lie about their age, what information to keep to themselves, and how to keep the girls quiet. They directed the men to places where they could get off-the-books abortions and taught them how to make everything look legitimate. In one case, a Planned Parenthood manager was even found instructing men on what sexual activities they should have the child prostitutes engage in while they recovered from abortion.
Abortion providers are one of the worst enablers of sexual trafficking and abuse. They ignore the law and young girls’ well-being in performing abortions. They actively assist rapists and are an integral part of trafficking operations. Even aside from the question of abortion’s morality, abortion providers do not help victims and do not have their best interests at heart.
Victims of Abuse Need Help, Not Abortion
Survivors of abuse are used to justify abortion every day. But though abused girls are often used to help abortion providers, rarely are abortion providers actually focused on helping them.
For some victims of abuse, abortion is presented as the only solution, without other options even given for consideration. Often, women are pressured or even forced into abortion against their will. But regardless of whether it’s their choice, or even safe for victims of abuse, many abortion providers simply see abortion as another way to make money.
Whether or not one believes that abortion exceptions are right, we must recognize that abortion in cases of rape is rarely about the mother’s choice or her wellbeing.
Abortion should not be the go-to bandaid for abuse, and abuse victims should not be used as tools to promote abortion. If we truly want to help abuse victims, we need to stop selling them abortions and shift our focus toward helping them heal.