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Web ingle mother who was worried she might lose custody of her daughter in light of a suit by the biological father. The woman then became pregnant, Forney said, and had an abortion in violation of her own beliefs because she feared having a second child would jeopardize prospects for keeping her daughter.

"We've begun to depend on abortions," Forney said. "We feel we have to choose between our unborn child and our born children."

Martha Girard, on the other hand, says she's appalled by the notion that women should lose the right to choose.

A hospital ultrasound technician from Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and a mother of three, Girard had an abortion two years ago, at the age of 44, when she mistakenly thought she was too old to get pregnant.

Having been through three difficult pregnancies previously, and coping with a mentally disabled eldest son, she felt abortion was the prudent choice.

"I knew that this pregnancy would end up badly — I could feel it — and we've already got enough problems with the mentally ill son," Girard said.

"I was very sad and depressed the first week," she added. "But because it's hard on you emotionally and some women regret it, that doesn't mean it's wrong, that someone else should decide for you."

The Journal of Family Issues published a report earlier this month asserting that women often choose abortion because of their wish to be good parents.

That means women who have no children want the conditions to be right when they do, and women who already are mothers want to care responsibly for their existing children, said the lead author, Rachel Jones, a researcher with the Guttmacher Institute.

"These women believed that it was more responsible to terminate a pregnancy than to have a child whose health and welfare could be in question," Jones said.

Even among many abortion opponents, the Guttmacher Institute — which supports abortion rights — is considered the nation's best source of abortion statistics....