While we’re having the interesting conversation about (largely hypothetical, given our current social context) issues of ‘forced fatherhood’, it’s also worth having a conversation about forced motherhood. Forced motherhood is, sadly, something that happens all the time, often with severe consequences that extend far beyond economic burdens.
The NY Times magazine has a compelling, heartbreaking article looking at recent work on the effects – psychological, social, financial – of denying abortion to women. Prof. Diana Greene Foster has conducted a landmark study seeking to gauge the impact of preventing access to abortion:
Most studies on the effects of abortion compare women who have abortions with those who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. It is like comparing people who are divorced with people who stay married, instead of people who get the divorce they want with the people who don’t. Foster saw this as a fundamental flaw. By choosing the right comparison groups — women who obtain abortions just before the gestational deadline versus women who miss that deadline and are turned away — Foster hoped to paint a more accurate picture. Do the physical, psychological and socioeconomic outcomes for these two groups of women differ? Which is safer for them, abortion or childbirth? Which causes more depression and anxiety? “I tried to measure all the ways in which I thought having a baby might make you worse off,” Foster says, “and the ways in which having a baby might make you better off, and the same with having an abortion.”
As you might expect, the results aren’t pretty.