The term “coerced abortion” most likely brings to mind images of the one-child policy in China, or forced sterilizations in third world countries. Forced abortions are not ordinarily associated with the United States, and especially not in the Pro-Life state of Texas. But coerced abortions indeed occur frequently in Texas, and no law prohibits the practice.
HB 1648 by Representative Molly White and SB 831 by Senator Lois Kolkhorst would end this abhorrent practice not only by prohibiting the act of coercion, but also by giving the woman being coerced some resources to reach law enforcement and domestic violence shelters. In the past, when similar bills have been considered in committee hearings in the Texas House, witnesses of all ages have shared heartbreaking stories about being forced into abortions against their will. Toni McKinley’s tragic saga of abortion demonstrates the need for these bills.
When I was a teenager, I was coerced and forced to have an abortion. When I learned that I was pregnant, I agreed to visit a women’s health clinic for a consultation. Prior to agreeing to this consultation, my boyfriend was daily yelling insults at me such as, “No one will ever want you if you keep this baby.” Because I was a victim of prior severe sexual abuse and trafficking, including rape, my self-esteem was very low and damaged. The constant insults where worsening my every fear about myself. “I will be alone. I will never be loved.” Being pregnant, even though I was a teenager, gave me hope for an opportunity to do well with my life. I could envision being a mother, and I wanted to be the best mother ever! I was excited to have a baby and looking forward to offering the love I never received as a child.
To stop the threats and insults from my boyfriend, I agreed to visit a health clinic to appease him in hopes that the threats and insults would stop. I was depressed and stressed by his constant onslaught and needed support for my choice to keep my child. When I arrived, I was met with opposition from the nurses. They were cold and hardly spoke to me. I assumed they knew I was there for a consultation, but they never asked. Alone in the room with a nurse, I began pleading, crying for her help to keep my baby. The only response from her was to stay seated in the chair. Realizing she was not going to help me, I tried to leave the room. That is when she grabbed me, shoved me back down into the chair, and stabbed a needle in my arm as I was yelling, “Please don’t do this to me!” I left later still groggy from the anesthesia and with no child in my womb.
Being a young and naive teenager, I never pressed charges. I blamed myself for walking in there and felt shame and guilt for not knowing better than to walk into a health clinic that committed abortions. I tried to go on and never think about that day, that clinic, or that horrible experience again.
Toni McKinley is the President and Founder of Crowns of Hope, an organization that seeks to assist victims of abuse cover the cost of therapy and bring healing back to their lives.
Director: Crowns of Hope