Exploring Your Options
This section helps you explore all options: abortion, parenting, adoption.
Finding out that you are pregnant can be overwhelming, and it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions (sometimes all at once!). Deciding whether to parent, have an abortion, or place for adoption, is one of the most important, and perhaps one of the most difficult, decisions you will ever make. Legally, no one can force you into any option. Giving yourself time to think, educating yourself about each option, and reaching out for support from those you trust will help you to make the decision that’s best for you and your life.
“I feel numb.”
Many young women may feel shocked when they find out that they are pregnant, or go into denial. Sometimes young women “decide by not deciding”, meaning that they stay in the stage of denial until very late in the pregnancy. Even if you feel like this decision is too big for you to make, or that it’s easier not to think about it, it is important for you to talk to someone you trust and start to think about your different options. Start by visiting a clinic and finding out how far along you are in your pregnancy. Talk to them about each option, and get the facts about abortion, adoption, and parenting. Spend some time thinking about how each option would affect your life, and the steps you would need to take to pursue each option (Do you need prenatal care? Is there an abortion clinic or adoption agency in your town? Do you need to think about insurance or financial issues?) Whether you decide to continue the pregnancy or have an abortion, seeking care as early as possible is important. Talk to someone who won’t judge or coerce you. Remember that while no choice may feel easy, YOU are strong and capable, and know what is best for your life.
“No one will understand.”
You may feel like you are the only one in the world to ever be faced with an unintended pregnancy, or that your situation is so unique that no one could possibly understand or sympathize. You are not alone. One in four women will become pregnant at least once before the age of twenty, and 37% of women will have at least one abortion in their lifetime. Find someone to talk to, whether it is a parent, sibling, older relative, teacher, coach or clergyperson. If this person cares about you, the chances are that they will be more supportive than you can imagine. They may even have had an experience with an unintended pregnancy themselves, or have supported someone in a similar situation. If you feel like you can’t tell anyone you know, or if you just want a different perspective or supportive ear, you can can speak to someone at a family planning clinic.
“I am afraid that I will regret my decision for the rest of my life.”
Once you become pregnant, no matter what you ultimately decide, your life will be different. You will have thought about your relationships, hopes, dreams, and when and if you want to bring life into the world, and you will have made a big decision based on all of these factors. Whether you decide to parent, have an abortion, or place for adoption, you may think about what your life would have been like if you had chosen something different. It is okay to feel sad, and even to feel regret sometimes. But if you are afraid that you will not be able to cope with your decision, or if you are making a decision based solely on your fear of regret, it is important to talk to someone experienced in pregnancy options counseling. By talking about your fears and making a plan for healthy coping before you make a decision, you will be much more prepared for any emotions you feel afterward and can allow yourself to experience your feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them. See Healthy Coping After an Abortion
“I have heard that abortion causes infertility/breast cancer/post traumatic stress disorder. Is this true?”
THERE IS NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE THAT ABORTION CAUSES ANY OF THESE THINGS. While many people have strong feelings about parenting and adoption, abortion is certainly one of the most controversial issues of our time. There are many, many resources out there about abortion, many of which are politically motivated and medically inaccurate. The truth is, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed. (However, attempting to ‘do it yourself’ without a doctor is very unsafe!) If you have read information on the internet that says that abortion is unsafe, check to see who is sponsoring the site. You can also visit Choice Link Up for links to sites that have been approved for medical accuracy and for referrals to reputable health facilities. If fear about the abortion procedure is the main thing motivating you to continue your pregnancy, call your local abortion clinic or family planning clinic and tell them your concerns. It’s important to find a clinic or office that will answer your questions. Clinic staff can explain the procedure to you, along with any risks and how to take care of yourself afterwards.
“My boyfriend wants us to get married” or “My boyfriend will leave me if I have this baby.”
Talking about these feelings and opinions with each another can be productive and healthy and bring you closer. However, it is also important that you do not feel coerced into a decision that does not feel right for you. Some young women feel that by having a baby they will be able to make their boyfriend love them more, or the opposite: unless they have an abortion their boyfriend will leave them. If this is the case, talk to a trusted adult about your feelings, and explore how each decision will affect YOUR life. Remember that you ultimately have the final say in what happens because this affects your life the most.
What if I really can't tell my parents?
If you honestly fear that your parents would hurt you or throw you out of the house, there are a number of things you can do. First, find out everything you can about who can help you and what is available in your community. Talk to local clinics, youth shelters or domestic violence programs, and national help lines about where you can stay for a short time period. Second, MAKE A PLAN. Third, if you need to leave home, get copies of your birth certificate, insurance cards, proof of residence --even a letter addressed to you--and whatever money or bank accounts in your name. Pack a bag with at least three days worth of clothes and things you need for school or work.
If you think you need to leave home and not return, find out what your legal rights are if you choose to leave home on your own or if your parents kick you out. You need to know how to react if you are turned in as a runaway or if you parents get in trouble for not taking care of you. Find out how you can continue to attend the same school or a different school. Learn about what medical care you can receive on your own without your parents’ involvement or financial help. If someone calls child protective services or child welfare, find out your rights before being interviewed by them. It is best to have a plan in place of where you can live with a trusted relative that might meet the approval of your parents and any child abuse investigator. The more detailed you are about the history abuse between you and your parents and the plan for you to live independently from your them, the more likely adults will believe your concerns regarding your parents’ reaction to your pregnancy news.
The most important thing to remember is your health and safety. Do your homework on what it will take for you to live on your own, with other relatives or roommates before leaving. Consider youth shelters and foster care as options if you don’t have the right people in your life that will put your safety and health as important in their lives.
Further Resources on Pregnancy Options
Pregnancy Options Workbook: www.pregnancyoptions.info
This workbook is used by many women and girls who are making a difficult decision about a pregnancy. It can be downloaded from this site. The workbook includes factual information about each option as well as exercises to help you come to a decision. There are also sections on post abortion health, spirituality, and sections just for male partners and parents.
Backline has a website dedicated to women having support for all their choices and pregnancy experiences. Check the website for talkline availability.
Girl Mom: www.girl-mom.com
This site was created by teen moms for teen moms. The site is progressive, pro-choice, and nonjudgmental, and includes postings from young women all over the country talking about the many different aspects of being a young parent.
Abortion Clinic Directory: www.abortionclinicdirectory.com
The Abortion Clinic Directory can help you locate an abortion provider in your area, and contains educational information about various abortion methods, contraception, and sexual health.
National Adoption Information Clearinghous
Comprehensive resource on all aspects of adoption, from the US Government
This agency is based in the Northwest, but their website contains a wealth of information about adoption, including questions to ask when calling adoption agency and information for parents and birthfathers.