Abortion For Teenagers: Reasons, Effects And The Law

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Teenage years are special and daunting as well. Unplanned pregnancies could shock both the parents and the teenager. But would abortion for teenagers help? Yes, provided you consider health and legal aspects. During your teen years, a positive pregnancy test might be scary as you are afraid of telling it to your parents, worried about your future and your education. Therefore, it is important to get proper and strong guidance from your parents and your near and dear ones. They can help you make the right decision and provide you with mental and emotional support.

Read on to know about the important facts that you should know about having an abortion and its effects.

Can A Teenager Get An Abortion?

In the US, teenagers have the right to get an abortion with or without parental consent (1). However, it is essential to know the state laws before planning an abortion. For instance, some states require approval from one of the parents, while some states excuse the minor from getting the consent. And if you don’t want to involve your parents, then you have the option of ‘judicial bypass.’ Know more about the legal aspects further in this post.

Why Do Teens Go For An Abortion?

Around 77% of teen pregnancies are not planned. Nearly 35% of teens who get pregnant choose abortion (2) (3). Each girl may have her reason for abortion .but some of the common ones are:

  1. Education or career goals: A teen who gets pregnant while she is in college might have to worry about her education. If she plans to go ahead with the pregnancy and raise a child, her education may get interrupted, and her life might change.
  1. Lack of support and guidance: Some teens find it difficult to share the news with parents. Girls who don’t receive advice and support from their families may consider proceeding with an abortion.
  1. Social pressure: Adolescent girls who may want to continue their pregnancy and raise a child might get unwanted attention from relatives, friends, and society. This is one of the many reasons why teens choose abortion.
  1. Health risks: The body of a teenage girl is still growing. There is likely to be a health risk when a developing body is burdened with the responsibility of pregnancy. Some girls may not feel mentally mature to raise a child.
  1. Financial and other issues: There could be other reasons, such as the couple not being serious about the relationship or financially strong enough to raise a child. Also, the girl could have been a victim of sexual assault.

Irrespective of the reason, if you do not want a pregnancy or not prepared for it, you may go ahead with termination of pregnancy after carefully considering the risk versus benefits. If you are less than seven weeks, you might be a candidate for an oral medication that makes the process easier and quicker.

The more advanced the pregnancy, the higher the risks and costs involved. There are community resources available in each state for counseling teens for the best option available or even adoption services for advanced unwanted pregnancy. In general abortion services are not covered by the insurances in the US. Complications of abortion-related procedures are usually rare but can be life-altering and cost-prohibitive.

How To Get An Abortion If You Are A Teen: Legal Aspects Involved

You may be mature, and you may know what is right and wrong for you. But talk to your parents or a trustworthy adult, who is likely to provide better care and support.

1. Why is parental guidance required?

Parents might be angry at you or disappointed, but then they would guide you and show the right path. If you are afraid to face your parents, you may take the help of an adult who understands you well. It could be your grandparents, elder sibling, a teacher, or relative.

You should also know the legal aspects of teenage abortion of your state before proceeding any further.

2. What are the state laws for teenage abortion regarding parental consent?

The legal aspects of teenager abortion differ from state to state in the US (4) (5).

  • Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Iowa are the states that require parental consent from one parent. Kansas, North Dakota, and Mississippi require permission from both parents.
  • North Carolina, Colorado, and Illinois accept relatives’ or grandparents’ permission.
  • Some states in the US ask the parent to submit a government-issued identification. A few states also request proof of parenthood.

3. What if you want abortion without parental consent?

If you want to go ahead with an abortion without involving your parents, then you may opt judicial bypass, wherein the teen or minor can get approval from the court directly. It is a confidential and free procedure and may take around three weeks.

However, there is a set of requirements to be eligible for this grant (6) (7). The criteria include intelligence and emotional stability of the minor, and her best interests in not notifying her parents or guardians.

If the court denies the grant, then the minor may appeal to the Court of Appeals of the respective state.

In addition to the legal aspects of teen abortion, you should consider the associated risks.

Effects Of Abortion On Teenagers

Teenage pregnancy is often not planned, and thus an abortion may come with adverse effects.

1. Social and economic effects

  • According to the World Health Organization, unmarried pregnant teenagers usually face social stigma or parent’s rejection.
  • Adolescent girls who are in school may have to leave their education due to peer pressure. Unfinished education may lead to fewer work opportunities and lesser earnings (8).

2. Psychological effects

  • A teenager may have to consider her partner’s opinion, her family’s opinion, her personal values, and her finances before and after abortion (10). These considerations can be mentally taxing.

3. Physical effects

  • Early complications related to teenage abortion include uterus or cervix injury, pelvic infection, reaction to anesthesia, hemorrhage, and delayed hemorrhage.
  • Some medical health risks may be related to the pregnancy stage and the technique used for abortion (11).

Abortion for teenagers can be highly stressful. Even though things may seem vague, you have the right to make decisions for yourself as a teenager. However, it is always better to consult and request your parents to guide you or go for counseling to know the options available. It could be a difficult phase, but it will pass. You must ensure to focus on your health and make informed and careful decisions for yourself without any external pressure. Also, it is important to know more about your body and the type of treatment it can take.

1. C. McCarthy; Why medical experts say that teens should be allowed to make the abortion decision without telling their parents; Harvard Health Publishing (2017)
2. Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing; U. S. Department of Health & Human Services
3. S. Dudley; Teenage Women, Abortion, and the Law; National Abortion Federation
4. Parental Involvement in Minors’ Abortions; Guttmacher Institute
5. Parental Consent and Notification Laws; Planned Parenthood
6. Judicial Bypass; Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
7. Judicial Bypass Procedures; Advocates for Youth (2015)
8. Adolescent Pregnancy; World Health Organization (2018)
9. Emotional and Mental Health After Abortion; Guttmacher Institute
10. A. Y. Loke and P. Lam; Pregnancy resolutions among pregnant teens: termination, parenting, or adoption?; BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2014)
11. J. A. Straton and F. J. Stanley; Medical risks of teenage pregnancy; Australian family physician (1983)


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Dr. Anita Gondy

Dr. Anita Gondy is an Ob/Gyn at The Ob-Gyn Center in Las Vegas. In practice since 1998, Dr. Gondy began her medical training at Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada, India and completed studies at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she also did an obstetrics and gynecology residency. She is also a Fellow member of The American College... more

Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more