An unplanned pregnancy could come as a shock to a teenager. You might be afraid of revealing it to your parents, concerned about your education, and nervous about finding the right options. But proper support and guidance can help you deal with this phase in life.
If you are thinking if it is possible to go for an abortion, then the answer is YES. But you have to consider certain factors, including legal and health aspects, before making a decision.
This MomJunction post answers some important questions on abortion for teenagers and discusses the effects it could have on them.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- Alaska, California, New York, and New Jersey are a few states that don’t need any parental consent. For detailed information, you may check ‘Parental Involvement in Minor’s Abortion.’
- Some states in the US ask the parent to submit a government-issued identification. A few states also request proof of parenthood.
- In some cases of neglect or abuse, states may waive off the parental consent.
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
- Teenagers are likely to experience more psychological stress related to abortion than grown-ups (9).
- 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).
As a teenager, you have the right to make the right decision for yourself. You may take help from your parents or have counseling to know the options available. It could be a difficult phase to go through, but it will pass. Make sure you are focusing on your health and taking informed and careful decisions for yourself without any outside pressure.
Do you have any stories to share? Let us know in the comment section.
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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