The Gap: unexpected pregnancy and unwanted abortion. 

February 2022

By Rebecca Peters

A gap is a break or an unfilled space where something is missing. A gap exists for some women when they have an unexpected pregnancy, and it might not be what you think. 

Most people aren’t aware of this gap because so much of the conversation around unexpected pregnancy focuses on the opposing sides of pro-choice and pro-life values. The gap is not part of the debate; therefore, it is not mentioned and not seen. As a result, thousands of women have fallen into this unfilled space, their wounds covered by silence. Because if your wound is from something that isn’t even acknowledged or considered, how do you talk about it? 

The unspoken gap is unwanted abortion – an abortion that is “chosen” because of pressure or because the woman believes she has no other choice. 

Unwanted abortion has existed for hundreds of years. With all the advances in women’s rights and helping organizations, one would think that unwanted abortion would not be an issue anymore. Maybe that’s why many people don’t think about it. But it exists. For the teenager who is told by her parents that she must have an abortion, or she will be kicked out. For the young woman who is told by her partner that if she doesn’t have an abortion, he will leave. And for the hurting woman, who wants the pregnancy but is afraid to bring a baby into an unhealthy relationship or difficult situation. Unwanted abortion exists.  

One Canadian study reviewed 101 stories shared by women regarding their abortion experience and found that over two-thirds of the women were pressured or coerced into having their abortion;1 or, in the context of this blog, they fell into the gap. That stat is shocking.

I think we can agree – unwanted abortion should not exist. The good thing is – we can do something about it. In fact, pregnancy care centres already are.

The missing piece to fill the gap is a place that provides the information and support for women who think they must have an abortion because of the pressures, opinions, or circumstances they are facing. Pregnancy care centres are that place. They are positioned on the road of unexpected pregnancy. They give accurate information on all three options: abortion, adoption, and parenting. And they provide a safe place for anyone impacted by an unexpected pregnancy to talk about their situation, fears and pressures, relationships, and dreams that are being shaken. There is no pressure and no judgement at a pregnancy care centre. That’s hard to find these days. 

Pregnancy care centres are also positioned on the road to help those women who have fallen in the gap. Centre personnel acknowledge the hidden wounds, and to the woman who has experienced an unwanted abortion, they say, “I see you. I hear you. And I am here to help.” What a gift that is. 

And yet that gift – of information, support, and compassion – is being attacked and challenged. Pregnancy care centres are caught in the crosshairs of the battle for women’s rights. This is ironic because pregnancy care centres are for women – especially for women who feel they don’t have a choice or are told they don’t have a choice. Pregnancy care centres are there for the women standing on the precipice of the gap.  

So what will you do now that you know this gap exists? Now that you know women are standing on the edge of this unfilled space, here are some action steps you can take:

We invite you to come alongside – both the women and the pregnancy care centres trying to help.  

Let’s agree on this one thing: unwanted abortion should not exist. Let’s do something about it. Together, let’s fill the gap. 

#fillthegap #unexpected pregnancy #unwantedabortion #pregnancycarecentres

1Broen AN, Moum T, Bödtker AS, Ekeberg O. Reasons for induced abortion and their relation to women’s emotional distress: a prospective, two-year follow-up study. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2005 Jan-Feb;27(1):36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2004.09.009. PMID: 15694217.

Lanfranchi A, Gentiles I, Ring-Cassidy E, Complications: Abortion’s Impact on Women, The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2013, pp 306, 319.