Legal help for minors being pressured into an abortion
Jasmine was 19 years old when she found out she was pregnant. At the time she was getting ready to graduate high school and go to college.
“I told my mom I was pregnant first. I had a feeling she was thinking I should get an abortion, but it was my dad that really made her think that was the best decision for me,” Jasmine said.
She felt like everyone around her was pressuring her.
“They told me I was too young, I have to go to college, experience things,” she explained. “I never really said anything, I just let everyone speak for me.”
Because of that she found herself sitting in the waiting room of an abortion clinic in North Carolina. But she began to have doubts.
“The abortion clinic was terrifying,” she said. “I turned to my mom and said I don’t want to be here can we leave?”
As soon as Jasmine and her mom stepped outside, they saw a Stork Bus from Compassion Care Center parked outside. Jasmine decided to talk to the women onboard.
“This was the conversation that I needed. I wanted to finally tell someone abortion was not what I wanted to go through with,” Jasmine said. “It was just something people were putting on me. They were really pressuring me to do it.”
Teen Pregnancy and the Pressure to Abort
The pressure Jasmine felt from her family, friends and those closest to her is something that many women facing an unplanned pregnancy experience. While pressure from anyone is hard, for teens and minors who are pregnant it can be especially overwhelming.
Parents, in particular, add significant pressure, especially since minors rely on their parents or legal guardians for housing and finances. Even though legally parents can’t force their teen to have an abortion, they can use other forms of pressure like withholding income, school enrollment and even housing or transportation.
This is where pregnancy centers can help. When a minor or teen experiences pressure from their family, many don’t know their rights or what options are available to them. The staff at a clinic are equipped to navigate these kinds of situations.
They connect pregnant or parenting minors to supportive resources like maternity homes, the Women, Infants & Children’s office for Medicaid, and other resource-based programs. In addition, they will often utilize legal resources from the Center Against Forced Abortions (CAFA).
Legal Aid & Resources
The Justice Foundation, a non-profit specializing in legal aid, founded CAFA. They provide legal resources to PRCs and minors who are pregnant and feel they are being pressured to abort. In particular, they utilize a letter a woman can give to their parents.
CAFA’s parent letter from a minor states that the mother has the right to “direct the upbringing and education of her child. That right is hers—not anyone else’s. Although you still have the legal duty to care for her, protect, and provide for her, she has the right to make decisions to keep the child in her womb, your grandchild.”
The letter also notes that a minor’s rights to keep her baby are upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
In addition to a parent letter, CAFA also has a letter minors can give to abortion providers if they are being coerced into have an abortion.
Pregnancy centers utilize these letters often, along with helping women navigate the many options available to them. Sometimes just knowing what is available makes the path to choosing life seems much easier.
This is exactly what happened to Jasmine. As soon as she spoke with the staff at Compassion Care Center and saw her son on the ultrasound.
“I knew that I wouldn’t go back to the abortion clinic. No one was going to change my mind after I saw what I saw. I’m really going to be a mom. If they weren’t out there that day, I probably wouldn’t have my child today.”
Read more stories of how PRCs are helping women choose life.