Don't rush a life-changing decision

Published: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 2, 2005 at 11:44 p.m.
A pre-abortion waiting period would allow women more time for serious deliberation.
Having an abortion shouldn't be a choice made within 24 hours.
On Monday, a young woman of my acquaintance discovered she was pregnant. On Tuesday she ended her pregnancy by abortion here in Alachua County.
This young woman is a bright and beautiful college student working on a rigorous academic degree who is in a serious monogamous relationship with a young man. Within 24 hours, she made and carried out a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life. This is a tragedy.
As a teacher of young men and women, it has been my privilege to talk with and counsel students regarding their futures. Our young adults face many pressures as they work toward completing their high school requirements and prepare for the next phase of their lives as college students or seeking meaningful employment. Hours are spent preparing for college entrance tests, writing essays for college applications, completing resumes, seeking letters of reference from teachers and employers, interviewing for jobs and determining their next steps toward their future. This time is needed, for the decisions they make are momentous.
A young woman who finds herself in an unexpected pregnancy is filled with apprehension and fears. "What will my boyfriend say? What will my parents say? What should I do? Who can I trust with this information? Should I have the baby or not? How will this affect my long-term plans?"
Surely a decision this important should not be made and finalized within 24 hours. If there is no medical emergency endangering the mother's life, would not a three-day waiting period between the appointment for ending the pregnancy and the date of the surgery give a young woman time to sort out her feelings and be sure of whatever decision she chooses to make?
Could this three-day waiting period be built into the system by law, enabling more time for deliberation? I know of no other elective surgery scheduled for completion so rapidly.
Would waiting three days have changed my young friend's decision? I truly do not know. But is not the future of both a young woman and the life of her unborn child worth a three-day wait?
Theresa Zerr is a guidance counselor and Latin teacher at a local high school.

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