How To Get An Abortion if You Are A Teenager
- According to the CDC, about 43% of teens ages 15 to 19 have ever had sex.
- Less than 5% of teens on birth control use Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
- Most teens use birth control pills and condoms, methods which are less effective at preventing pregnancy when not used properly.
- Teen childbearing can cause health, economic, and social costs for mothers and their children.
Finding out you’re pregnant can follow with unlimited happiness, dreamy days, and rosy nights. But, not if you are a teenager!
Pregnancy during your teens could be terrifying and daunting. Things can even worsen if the pregnancy is not planned or if it is a ‘mistake.’ From financial support to emotional, mental and social, most things do not come easy in the case of teenage pregnancy. As a consequence, these teenagers resort to abortion, oftentimes which tend to be unsafe, because they cannot open up to their family or friends and seek proper guidance. But, you need to know that professional help from places like this Pregnancy Service in Bloomsburg, PA is available.
What is teenage pregnancy?
Teenage pregnancy refers to pregnancy in young girls between the ages of 13-19 years. Adolescent pregnancy is also known as adolescent pregnancy or teen pregnancy. 9.2 percent of adolescent pregnancy cases in India account for rural areas, whereas 5 percent are reported from urban India.
According to a UN report, India bears economic losses of $7.7 billion a year due to teenage pregnancies. Pregnancy during teenage makes the young girl vulnerable to physical and mental health complications and puts their babies at risk. Teenage pregnancies are often associated with miscarriages, unsafe abortion, resulting in adverse health outcomes.
Can a teenager abort her baby?
An individual is considered to be a teenager if he or she is within 13-19 years of age. According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, a woman who is 18 years of age and above, irrespective of being married or unmarried, is legally entitled to undergo an abortion. According to the act, if the teenager is of 18+ years age, she or her doctor does not require any written or verbal consent of anyone else other than herself. But, if the pregnant girl is below 18 years of age, the doctor would require written consent from her guardians.
A teenager can seek medical help to abort her baby under the following conditions:
- If the pregnancy is harmful to the physical and mental health of either the mother or the baby.
- If the pregnancy is a result of contraceptive failure.
- If the pregnancy is a result of a sexual assault.
- If continuing the pregnancy can result in physical abnormalities in the baby after birth.
Teenage pregnancies account for 16 percent of total cases of pregnancies in India. 9 percent of total maternal deaths in India are associated with teenage pregnancies. Abortion during adolescence or teenage comes with multiples physical and psychological complications and risks.
Physical risks involved in abortions for teenage pregnancies
- The girl is often at risk of hemorrhage and shock in case of surgical abortion.
- Girls involved in teenage abortions are twice likely to experience cervical lacerations during an abortion in comparison to older women who undergo medical or surgical abortions.
- Chances of post-abortion infections such as pelvic inflammatory diseases and uterine inflammations are much higher in cases of abortions in teenagers.
- Teenagers who undergo abortions are at a significantly greater risk of infertility, premature births, recurrent miscarriages, and ectopic pregnancies in the future.
Psychological complications and consequences involved in teenage abortions
Abortion is traumatizing for many women. And in the case of teenagers or adolescents, the emotional and psychological impact of abortion causes a long-term effect.
- There be extreme guilt and anxiety and often the girl might end up disconnecting herself from others.
- She might suffer from loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and might not be confident in indulging in sexual activities in the future.
- The guilt and shame can be so extreme that it might lead to a reduced motivation to live and she might even experience suicidal tendencies.
- In many cases, the teenager ends up getting involved in substance abuse which later poses greater damage to her health.
How to get a safe abortion as a teenager? What’s the role of the parents?
Getting pregnant is not the kind of news a teenager can happily to her parents. Most of the time, the girl or both the girl and the boy do not even open up to their friends. Instead, they keep it a secret, resort to finding solutions through online research and end up making wrong decisions. Parents play a vital role in educating their children about sexual indulgence, getting pregnant, and undergoing abortion while they grow up.
“In India, the main problem is that we are not open to talking and discussing. If we discuss and educate our children about sexual health, they would learn a lot from the ‘right source’ than learning it the wrong way from a ‘wrong source.’ Incidences of teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions in such cases are rising drastically in India because there is a lack of education and awareness. Parents need to understand that during adolescence, the hormones tend to change. Girls and boys at that stage tend to find interest in different physical intimacies, and if there is nobody to educate them about what’s right and what’s wrong, they will find their own way to discover that, which unfortunately are most often wrong than right,” says a senior obstetrician-gynecologist at Pristyn Care.
Parents need to discuss sexual health with their children. The responsibilities are more for a mother towards her teen daughter(s). If they ask you something, do not shut them down. Understand where the concern is arising from and why. Parental influence plays a pivotal role in correct decision-making during teenage.
“If your child has a special friend from the opposite gender, discuss the relationship they share. Teach them the aspects of intimacies, not just the physical aspect but also the emotional and the overall safety. Teens may ask you about getting pregnant or contraception. Do not overreact, just because you are the mother or the father. You lose the opportunity to communicate. Talking about sex does not mean encouraging them to get involved in sex. But it can surely take them a long way in learning how to protect themselves. In case, parents are not comfortable, they should take their children to a professional doctor who can help or them understand things easier and better,” added the Pristyn Care doctor.
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If you have missed your periods but the pregnancy is not yet confirmed, you can take a pregnancy test to confirm that first. Once confirmed, you can visit a licensed gynecologist for safe abortion. Depending on how far you have been through your pregnancy, the doctor would determine the right way to terminate the pregnancy.
Ideally, pregnancies within 0-10th weeks are terminated through abortion pills. And abortions from 11th-20th weeks are done through the surgical procedure. In certain cases, where the pregnancy can pose severe health risks to either the mother or the baby, surgical abortion can even be carried out until the 24th week of pregnancy. But the risk and success involved in each case can only be determined by the gynecologist after proper diagnosis.
How to prevent teenage pregnancy and abortion?
There is a substitute for awareness. Awareness about the whole thing is the first and primary step to preventing pregnancies and abortions among teens. Abstain from unprotective sexual intercourse. It is the best way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. You need to understand what’s right for you in your teenagehood. If you share a relationship with someone, there are many ways other than sex to show love and care. Do not rush; set your own physical and emotional limits.
If you want to get sexually involved, make an informed choice. Know what might follow and whether you are prepared for that or not. If not, stop. Learn about sexually transmitted diseases and the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. There’s a lot more to the whole thing than just the momentary happiness. Being informed will not help you make a correct decision but also make you confident to make a very personal and private decision.
Evaluate how healthy your relationship is – whether it has trust, respect, and scope for communication or not. Discuss contraception and STDs. Teenage relationships can be vulnerable. So, build a relationship based on talking, listening, and understanding. Respect each other’s choices, opinions, and viewpoints.
If you are sexually assaulted, open up to your parents. Hiding or keeping it a secret will call for more complications. Rather than shutting the child down, parents should try to find out the truth and take prompt actions for the girl’s safety and legal actions against the culprit.
The month of May is observed as Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Various organizations jointly work to spread awareness among the mass about teenage pregnancy and try to educate them. Although many people are doing a lot to spread the message, the root always lies at home. Until we as individuals are not clear how to deal with this with our next generation(s), we can not reach where we need to.