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Coerced abortion in America

baby hand, parent
(Photo: Unsplash/Liv Bruce)

This past week, two Washington, D.C. police officers — Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson and 24-year veteran Karen Arikpo — revealed that early on in their careers they had been told to have an abortion or they would lose their jobs. Fearing for their careers, both women aborted their unborn babies.

They expressed the pain caused by the police department’s past actions. Officer Arikpo lamented, “It’s so unfair ... And now I’ve never been able to have a kid. All these years, I’ve tried, and I’ve never been able to have a baby ... I did this for a job ...” Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson shared, “My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum.”  Like Arikpo, Dickerson has never had other children.

This shocking news — a city-sponsored police department issuing an ultimatum to two black women — abort your unborn child or see your career come to an end — has received little to no media attention. Perhaps because coerced abortion is a far from an abnormal occurrence for women in America. 

Just weeks ago, 500 female athletes filed a brief in the much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, arguing that an unborn child’s right to life is a serious threat to the hard-fought progress made in women’s sports. They argued that female athletes could not be as successful as they are without abortion making it possible.

The writers of the amicus brief referenced Sanya Richards-Ross, an Olympic track athlete who, after revealing she’d had an abortion prior to competing, stated, “Most of the women I knew in my sport have had at least one abortion.” They forgot to mention that Richards-Ross also said, “In that moment, it seemed like I had no choice at all,” and went on to say, “I made a decision [to get an abortion] that broke me.”  

Aside from their mischaracterization of Sanya Richards-Ross as a pro-abortion advocate, the 500 women who submitted the brief fail to see that the belief that women must kill their children in order to succeed is something to fight, not something to celebrate. 

All across America, countless women fear that choosing life for their child will condemn them to a lifetime of not being able to “succeed.”

Planned Parenthood’s Dobbs brief quoted an abortionist who said, “I remember one person who came back to our health center a couple of years after her abortion to tell me how her abortion had allowed her to graduate from college and fulfill her dreams for herself.”

female track athlete at Clemson aborted her child after a Clemson administrator told her, “Just think about your options. You know Coach isn’t going to give you back your scholarship just like that. If she finds out and if you decide to keep it [the baby], that’s gone.”

A 2016 amicus brief from 113 female attorneys in the case Whole Women’s Health v. Cole begins, “To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.” This statement is followed by a series of narratives detailing how these women credit their careers to their abortions.

These days, we see one celebrity after the next proclaiming, “My body, my choice,” while simultaneously stating — like the 113 female attorneys — that their career would have never been possible without abortion. Few, like Nicki Minaj, are honest enough to admit, “It’s haunted me all my life.”  

Certainly, the past ultimatums issued by the D.C. police department are in a league of their own, but our nation must come to terms with the reality that virtually every woman contemplating having an abortion feels as if she, too, has been given an ultimatum — one that pro-abortion messaging reinforces every single day.

It is pro-abortionists who constantly tell women, “You can’t. You can’t graduate from college and have a baby. You can’t be an athlete and have a baby. You can’t be an attorney and have a baby. You can’t be a celebrity and have a baby.”

As we approach the Supreme Court arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the pro-life movement must continue to be the movement of “Yes, you can! And we will be here to help you.” We must change our culture to one where instead of being told, “Abort your child or lose your job,” future police recruits are told, “Congratulations! Your baby is going to be so proud that her mommy is a police officer! Let’s talk about how we can work together to make that happen.”


Originally published at the Family Research Council

Mary Szoch serves as the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. In this position, Mary researches, writes, and coordinates collaborative efforts with other pro-life advocates on policies surrounding life and human dignity.

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