Monday, June 13, 2005

Self-Induced Abortion or Domestic Violence?

Teen Gets Life Sentence For Helping Girlfriend End Pregnancy

The case of the teen girl in Texas who asked her boyfriend to stomp on her stomach to end her pregnancy has become national news. Pro-choice activists cry, "This girl had to resort to self-inflected abortion when she didn't have access to a safe and legal abortion." while pro-life activists cry "Charge the boyfriend for murder of the unborn babies".  On June 7th, the boyfriend was prosecuted under the state's new fetal protection law and given a life sentence. But it seems the case isn't that simple.
Correction Time From Feminst Blogs
"It looks like there's a very good chance that this homemade abortion was the last incident in a string of abusive encounters. The boy admitted to hitting the girl in the past to keep her from berating him, and the hospital report indicates that she was hit on the face and had a huge bruise on her arm from someone grabbing her. This casts doubt on her story that she wanted to abort the pregnancy so much as it was lost after her boyfriend beat her. The girl had, after all, been keeping up her doctor's appointments. From the affidavits, it looks like parental notification wasn't an issue. "My mom, my sister and my sister-in-law all said that I should get an abortion," Erica stated in an affidavit last July. "They said that I was too young to have children. Jerry and his family did not want me to get an abortion, and they asked me to move in with him in Jerry's house." This entire case is disturbing on a number of levels. First of all, it's disturbing that it was so widely reported as a simple issue of two teenagers getting caught doing a homemade abortion, when it's very likely that instead it was closer to the all-too-typical scenario of domestic violence escalating due to a pregnancy. But the prosecution carries a lot of the blame in that--instead of treating this incident for what it most likely was, which is a case of domestic violence leading to a miscarriage and prosecuting the young man for hurting his girlfriend, they grandstanded on the whole abortion bullshit instead of standing up for the young woman who was victimized in all this."
I agree, it looks like a case of domestic violence. In the original story Houston Press:Stomped Out)...
According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund: Reproductive Health and Violence Fact Sheet
"Each year, about 324,000 pregnant women in this country are battered by their intimate partners.(v) That makes abuse is more common for pregnant women than gestational diabetes or preeclampsia -- conditions for which pregnant women are routinely screened. However, few physicians screen pregnant patients for abuse.(vi)
Women with unplanned pregnancies have a two to four times greater risk for violence than women whose pregnancies were planned.(vii)
No fewer than a quarter of adolescent mothers experience intimate partner violence before, during, or just after their pregnancy, with some studies reporting rates of 50 to 80 percent.(xi) "
v. Gazmararian JA; et al. 2000. .Violence and Reproductive Health; Current Knowledge and Future Research
Directions.. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 4(2):79-84.
vi. Parsons, L., .Violence Against Women and Reproductive Health: Toward Defining a Role for ReproductiveHealth Care Services.. Maternal and Child Health JournalVol. 4, No. 2, pg. 135. 2000.
vii. Rabasca, Lisa. .More Research is Needed on Violence and Reproduction.. American Psychological Association
Monitor. Vol. 30, No. 8. September 8, 1999. available at
xi. Leiderman, Sally and Cair Almo. 2001. Interpersonal Violence and Adolescent Pregnancy: Prevalence and Implications for Practice and Policy. Center for Assessment and Policy Development and the National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting, and Prevention.

See here and here for a list of signs of abuse. Although the focus of the article is on the politics of abortion, there are plenty of red-flags of abuse. Should the boyfriend have been better investigated for perpertrating abuse, definatly! Should he have been prosecuted for domestic violence? Depending on the results of the investigation. Unfortuantly, now we will probably never know.  I believe there needs to be more awareness and education on domestic violence in the media.

Update 9-30-05
The teenager who caused his girlfriend to miscarry by repeatedly whacking her in the belly with a baseball bat has been sentenced to serve 200 hours of community service in a pro-life pregnancy center, after his conviction prompted objections.

MOUNT CLEMENS -- A teenage boy convicted of striking his girlfriend with a baseball bat to end her pregnancy has been sentenced to 200 hours of community service at a pro-life pregnancy center, drawing objections from his lawyer and his family.

Macomb Circuit Judge Matthew Switalski on Thursday sentenced the 17-year-old Richmond teen to two years probation and community service at Compassion Pregnancy Centers, which has two locations in Macomb County.

The youth -- who pleaded no contest in August to hitting his 16-year-old girlfriend in the stomach with her consent to cause a miscarriage -- hugged the girl in the hallway outside the courtroom after the sentencing. The teens' names are being withheld because they are juveniles.

According to Compassion Pregnancy Centers' Web site, the center is "directed by the Holy Spirit, will encourage and comfort women and their families who face a crisis pregnancy by: extending Christ-like compassion and the soul-saving good news of salvation; giving spiritual, emotional and physical support and educating about life issues."
H/T to AfterAbortion

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