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US abortion provider invited to speak at Brisbane event calls coercion of any sort “appalling”

Dr Alexandra Doig, Dr Leah Torres and Dr Bryan Kenny

Engaging dialogue: Dr Leah Torres (centre) joined by Brisbane physicians Dr Alexandra Doig and Dr Bryan Kenny for a panel at the Abortion Rethink summit in Brisbane. Photo: Emilie Ng.

ABORTION provider Dr Leah Torres has told Australian lawmakers and campaigners for better care of women regarding reproductive health that she has nightmares about performing terminations “on somebody that doesn’t want one”.

Dr Torres, a gynaecologist and obstetrician who for nine years has provided abortions as well as maternity care, prenatal care and other reproductive health procedures in her Utah clinic, said at a national summit on Australian abortion law reform in Brisbane that performing terminations on someone who was coerced into making that choice haunted her.

“One of my nightmares is that I am doing an abortion on somebody that doesn’t want one, that they’re being coerced,” she said.

“I’ve actually had that nightmare, so it’s something that haunts me.”

The American doctor was invited to speak at the Abortion Rethink summit on a panel with Brisbane specialist gynaecologist Dr Bryan Kenny, who as a Christian is against abortions.

The summit was held to give a “360-degree look at abortion law, policies and practices in Australia” and encouraged dialogue between different sides of the abortion debate.

Lawyers, psychologists, crisis pregnancy support activists, politicians, social workers, several members of the Queensland Law Reform Commission and experts in counselling post-abortive women attended the event.

In her brief address, Dr Torres strongly called out against any forms of coercion, saying it was “appalling” that Australian women were forced into abortions.

“Any sort of reproductive coercion is appalling and it needs to stop and I need to figure out how to work together to ensure that coercion of any sort – financial, romantic, parental, whatever it may be, is not happening,” she said.

Dr Torres said she was “gobsmacked” to hear the personal testimonies of two women at the summit who were forced into having an abortion against their will.

“I’ve seen here that there’s sort of an opposite side of the coin to what we face in the United States which I feel is a regret of coercion of forced birth and I was gobsmacked to hear the stories from the brave women earlier about being coerced into having an abortion,” she said.

“It’s appalling.”

Emma McLindon, a mother who has had eight abortions in her life, spoke of the “unhealthy, obsession desire” she felt to fall pregnant numerous times after having her first termination at 16.

She said she was coerced, forced or abused into having an abortion “and then all of them left me alone to carry the grief and the trauma myself”.

“It’s been about twenty-eight years since my first abortion,” Mrs McLindon said.

“I was a naïve sixteen-year-old who got ushered to an abortion clinic by my boyfriend and his father,” she said.

The pain she suffered left her with a desire to “replace my baby” which she said was “an all-too-familiar cycle for many post-abortive women”.

“I found myself having gone from a super-fit, healthy and happy teenager to an obsessive alcohol and drug-taker leading a promiscuous lifestyle still desperately trying to fill the void of that lost child.

“But no drink, pill or man could ever replace my babies, ever.”

Mrs McLindon revisited abortion clinics eight times before having a “very, very slow” journey of healing.

“You find yourself playing out the exact same scenario of an unplanned pregnancy to a man who doesn’t want a bar of being a father,” she said.

“So while I want the baby, time and time again I found myself back at an abortion clinic, the last place I wanted to be, so why couldn’t I get out of this horrible cycle?”

Mrs McLindon said the community needed to support women and “show her that having a baby is something she can do”.

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