I talked to a young woman and her boyfriend recently about an abortion she had a month or two ago.
Charmaine (not her real name) was still very affected--depressed, crying, irritable, unable to really get it together. Her boyfriend Scott (also not his real name) was increasingly frustrated that she was so unhappy and essentially insisted that she come in. (When people actually seek help, it's invariably because someone else pushed the issue.)
What emerged was a young woman whose expectations were wildly different than her partner's. Neither had a job or education, but Charmaine was ready for a baby and a family and he was not. All of her friends had babies, and she felt that since they had an apartment with an extra bedroom they were set. Scott had a mental condition and couldn't afford his meds, and didn't want to pass his genetic make-up on to any poor child.
And yet, each had a version of reality that incorporated the same set of facts into their partial story. Charmaine insisted that the pregnancy was planned, that she was supported in having a baby by her family and friends, but that his family had set him against the idea. She was understandably angry at them. Scott's version was that he never wanted a child, especially not when he was not working reliably, and when he was feeling so emotionally vulnerable. His family was supportive of him and sent him money for an abortion.
Charmaine eventually acknowledged that she could have left the clinic at any time, and that she did not tell the staff that this was not her decision. I told her either would have stopped everything. Scott said that he went along with the idea of the pregnancy because he just wanted her to be happy, until it hit him what was happening. But where to go from here? A couple of months later, many fights (daily) and these two young people (she is 19, he 20) were stuck in an emotional tar pit that was dragging them down more and more every day.
I think relationships are incredibly difficult to do well, or even adequately. It's not something you get taught, except by bad experiences, and then only if you happen to run into some good help. So, it's no surprise that a young woman gets all warm and fuzzy about having a home and a family, even if the reality doesn't support the fantasy. Then when it all fell down like a house of cards, Charmaine didn't know how to speak her own mind and her own heart. She went along with something, as she wrote, "I would never ever consider." And Scott felt that a relationship is about keeping the other person happy and maybe just glossed over his own strong feelings about not having a child and his own vulnerabilities.
I prescribed a healthy dose of reality for both of them and although I personally don't hold out much hope for them as a couple, with a little luck, they will learn something they can take to the next relationship. At least they were still talking when they left.
PS sorry for my long absence; a non abortion project captured me and held me hostage!