Letter writer Sue Martensen makes the outlandish claim — falsely attributed to the Guttmacher Institute — that a third or more of abortions obtained by U.S. women are coerced. I’d like to set the record straight.

In fact, Guttmacher research clearly refutes Ms. Martensen’s claim: When asked in a 2004 study, only one-half of one percent of women — who could give multiple reasons — said their most important reason for obtaining the abortion was that their partner or husband wanted them to have it. And even that, obviously, does not mean that the woman herself did not agree with the decision.

Concern on the part of anti-abortion activists that some women may be coerced into having an abortion only cloaks their real agenda — which is to deny all women the ability to have an abortion. Or to put it differently: They are quite comfortable with coercing women, as long the coercion goes in the direction they prefer — forcing women to continue pregnancies that they themselves do not want to carry to term.

Reproductive coercion in any form should be condemned. The decision to have an abortion — or not to have an abortion — ultimately must be the woman’s alone, after her consultation with her doctor, partner, family, faith leader or all of the above.

Cory L. Richards, Washington, D.C.

The writer is executive vice president, vice president for public policy, Guttmacher Institute.


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