The concern you express for your friend shows what a good friend you are. Friends offer unconditional love and support for each other, but that does not mean you support every decision that person makes. People can agree to disagree. Friends can express how they feel and think knowing that they are still given the respect a friend deserves when they disagree. Your friend may want you to agree with everything she says or feels. You can offer empathy, compassion, and understanding without agreeing with her because she is in “panic” mode and needs your clear thinking.
Encourage your friend to get all the facts before she makes this important decision is a good first step. How you offer that encouragement is unique to you. There are some important factors you may want to think about before you talk with your friend.
Your friend may be feeling:
- Afraid, alone, abandoned
- Angry, rejected, deceived
- Depressed, defeated, unworthy
- Panicky, rushed, worried
- Anxious, nervous, jittery
There are some things you can do to help her slow down, think, and not rush into making life changing decision.
- LISTEN more than talk. Your friend needs to be heard. Listen to what she is saying, and to what she is not saying. Let her know you are hearing her by reflecting back periodically what she is expressing to you.
- “You sound really upset about……”
- “You sound really angry with……..”
- “You told him and he……”
- Use a quiet, reassuring voice to help calm the situation. You are the voice of reason and support. Your emotions can influence the tone of the discussion. Turn your phone off. Give her your undivided attention. Try to pick a setting in which you can give her all the time she needs to talk with you. She’s worth your all your effort. This may be your only opportunity to communicate on this level.
Make eye contact.
- Try to avoid asking too many questions. Let your friend set the tone of the discussion. When you do ask a question, let it be one that clarifies her thoughts and feelings.
- Let the conversation focus on her. She needs you. She cannot make a decision when she is in a panic. She needs to hear from you that she is a person of value. When you express that you are there for her, she knows you have her best interest at heart. She is not alone.
- Be mindful of what she is not saying by being attuned to her body language. Is your friend crying a lot? If she is saying she wants to terminate this pregnancy, yet she is sobbing, wringing her hands and trembling, she may be indicating that her mind and heart are not in agreement.
- The goal of the conversation is to help surface her values, freeing her to make a decision she can live with. When women don’t listen to their inner voice, they are susceptible to depression and grief that can later interfere with achieving their future goals and dreams.
- Try to determine what her biggest fears are:
- She may be afraid to tell her parents. Perhaps you could practice with her how to share this news with them. (see suggestions for telling parents as you scroll down)
- She may be afraid of reaction of the baby’s father. She may be thinking he will reject her or be angry with her. Some men react like pregnancy is a woman’s fault rather than a situation of mutual responsibility. Women who desperately want to maintain the relationship may lean toward abortion in an effort not to alienate him. Unfortunately, 90% or relationships break up after sharing an abortion experience together.
- She may fear she is too young.
- She may fear being asked to leave home.
- She may be concerned about the judgment of others.
- She may worry that she has to change her future plans for school, a scholarship, or a new job. This is a real fear, but look how flexible and adaptable we are in our daily lives. Schools are approachable and try to accommodate the needs of their applicants. Many schools have on site childcare. There are many scholarships for single moms. Job opportunities will present themselves to a motivated seeker.
- The fears associated with finding out you are pregnant are varied and unique to each person. They are real. Women need to express their concerns to a listening ear. You can be her sounding board and you have the privilege of offering her hope. You can brainstorm together how to face each challenge. Your friend will hear herself label those fears. Compliment her on how she handles stressful situations. Remind her she is a strong person of character. She may be very critical of herself and could benefit from hearing some of her strengths.
- Help your friend make a list of pros and cons so she can see what the challenges are.
- Help your friend “get the “facts.”
Invite her to visit this website, www.abortionthefacts.com with you to learn how abortions are performed, the potential risks and complications, and the biology of prenatal development. Show your friend the list of Questions and Answers that many pregnant women ask. She can see she is not the only one who is searching for “the facts.”
When your friend sees the “biology” of what is happening inside her uterus, suggest she make an appointment for a free ultrasound. She can take someone she cares about with her for support such as the baby’s father, a parent, or friend. A Pregnancy Help Center in your area can refer you to the most convenient location.
( http://www.optionline.org/get-help will help you connect with a local pregnancy help center for referrals).
- Help your friend make a list of pros and cons so she can see what the challenges are.
- Remind her this decision should reflect her values, her beliefs, and be in harmony with what she truly believes.
- Assist your friend to think about the “big picture.” Future health and fertility, psychological well being, and making a decision she can live with are key elements to consider.
Some Important “Don’ts”
Don’t feel like you have to have all the “right” words. You know your friend. Talk from your heart and be sincere. Fearing you won’t have the right words can paralyze conversation. Be yourself.
Don’t feel like you need to support your friend’s decision if it is contrary to your own values. Your friend needs to see someone of character quietly stating what they believe is right. She will see that you are not judging her. She will see you modeling acceptance and support. She may still change her mind. Whatever decision she makes, she needs to know you are her friend.
Do not drive her or accompany her to an abortion facility in an effort to be supportive.
Many women who have experienced abortion tell us they later regret the decision they made. They feel angry at the people around them who didn’t speak up and support a parenting plan. They resent the people who stood by and were complicit. Many are angry with anyone who “shared” the abortion experience by helping make it happen.
A loving response would be:
- “Abortion has risks and complications that can hurt you.”
- “I care about you and your health.”
- “You may later be angry at anyone who enabled you to abort.”
- “Our relationship is too valuable to risk
Encourage your friend to tell her parent(s).
Many young women abort because they are certain their parents cannot handle the disappointment of a pregnancy, only to find out later, they would have offered her help and unconditional love. Below are some suggestions about telling parents of a pregnancy. These suggestions may help your friend feel less anxious and afraid. You could even practice “role playing” to give your friend the confidence that approaching someone you love is an expression of trust and is indicative of a healthy relationship. When parents find out their daughter “couldn’t come to them with this problem” and instead aborted their grandchild, damage to their relationship occurred at the very time they needed each other the most. Parents frequently say “I thought I communicated to you that you could always come to me with anything. Am I so unapproachable? Where did I go wrong?”
How Your Friend Needs To Inform Her Parents About Her Pregnancy:
Parents would rather hear the news from their daughter, not someone else, so she needs to tell them soon.
Your friend needs to:
- Pick a private time and place when she can have uninterrupted conversation.
- Choose a setting that is relaxed.
- Tell one parent at a time.
- Tell them she loves them, and she needs them more than ever before.
- “Mom” or “Dad”, “I’m pregnant.”
- Understand her parents may be upset, angry, disappointed, or shocked.
- Remind your friend that her parents will need some time to process their feelings. Although they may initially respond with anger or disappointment, they do have her best interest at heart. She could give them a day or two to think things through, then approach them again. Most parents want to be supportive when their children are hurting.
- She can let them know she has a plan of action.
- Your friend can remind her parents that this life inside her is their grandchild.
- She should thank them for being there for you in the past. She can tell them how much it means to her that they are there for her now.
- If she has gone to a Pregnancy Help Center and had a free ultrasound, now would be a great time to play the disc for her parents showing the stage of development of the child growing in her uterus. (http://www.optionline.org/get-help will help you connect with a local pregnancy help center for referrals).
What to do when your friend’s parents are told of the pregnancy and they demand she has an abortion. Your friend should:
- Give them time to process the emotions they are feeling.
- Research the possible risks and complications of abortion and make a copy to share the information with them. Tell them they are making a decision that can greatly impact her health.
- Share the biology of what is going on inside her uterus. There are many sources available on the internet, this website is one such resource, that show the stages of development of the life growing inside your friend.
- She could invite a parent to accompany you for a free ultrasound to see the stage of development of fetus she is carrying.
- She can share a plan of action how she will take care of this child. Identify her support system and how they will help her. Call or visit a Pregnancy Help Center and find out what support services you are eligible to receive. (http://www.optionline.org/get-help will help you connect with a local pregnancy help center for referrals).
- She should know her rights. No one has the right to demand her to terminate this pregnancy. She will be screened at the abortion facility. She should ask to be screened alone. She needs to be truthful. Only your friend should be making this decision. She will have to live with this choice. Forcing someone to have an abortion against their will is called coercion. If your friend states she is not freely choosing abortion of her own free will, the abortion facility, by law, has to refuse to perform the procedure and refund any money paid for services not rendered.
You are a good friend to show concern for your friend.
She is fortunate to have your love and support. There are many related questions on this website that could help your friend. Invite her to look at the list with you.
See related questions:
- Are Abortion clinics safe?
- Can I change my mind once I’m in the clinic?
- Can I be forced to have an abortion?
- Do I have rights?
- What is the Connection between Abortion and
- Breast Cancer?
- How are abortions done?
- What are my choices?
- What risks are there if I choose to have an abortion?
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