A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy usually feels a lot of different things. She might be excited or happy. Or she might be sad, angry, afraid, or feeling guilty. She might be feeling all (or none) of these things. Some women know right away how they’ll handle this unexpected event. Other women are confused and unsure of what to do. There are things that women can do and think about to help them make the choice that is best for their lives.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR DEALING WITH AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY?
If a woman is facing an unplanned pregnancy, she has three options from which to choose:
1. Keep the pregnancy and parent the child (with the father or as a single mother)
2. Carry out the pregnancy and place the baby for adoption
3. Have an abortion.
It is up to her to decide what’s best.
WHEN DO I HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO ABOUT AN UNPLANNED PREGNANCY?
The earlier she finds out that she’s pregnant, the more time she has to decide what to do about it. It’s helpful to know how far along her pregnancy is, and the Family Planning Association or her health care provider can help her determine that. Having that information can help her make her decision.
If she wants to carry out the pregnancy (either to parent the child or place it for adoption), it is important for her to start getting prenatal care as soon as possible, usually within 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. If she wants to place the baby for adoption, she can make the choice to do so at any time during the pregnancy and even after the baby is born. If she decides to have an abortion, it is best for her to do it in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but abortions can be performed legally in Ohio up to week 24 of pregnancy.
HOW SHOULD I DECIDE WHAT TO DO?
The best place for a woman to start is by getting all the facts about her options. She may have a lot of questions that she needs to get answered before she decides. She may need to sort through her beliefs. She may need to talk to someone who is completely neutral. (The Family Planning Association can help.)
Ultimately, this is her decision and she might want to make it on her own. However, some women find it helpful to discuss their feelings with someone they trust. The father, her parents, her friends, or her family may be helpful in making the decision. She should remember, though, that the decision is hers. Anyone who tries to pressure her into a decision that she does not feel is right is not respecting her right to choose.
I’VE MADE MY DECISION. NOW WHAT DO I DO?
Sometimes making the decision is the hardest part, and many people feel relief once they’ve made a choice. It’s not unusual, though, for a woman to still feel confused even though she knows she’s made the right decision. The best thing for her to do is to focus on the reasons why she chose what she did. She should talk to the people that supported her in the decision-making process.
*I have decided to keep the pregnancy and parent the child …
A woman who has made this choice will need to find a place where she can get the health care that she and her baby need. She might also want to go to the library and check out some books on what to expect while pregnant and how to keep herself healthy. She should talk to her loved ones and be willing to accept their support and encouragement. If she’s unsure of how she will pay for medical bills and child-related expenses, she can research the public assistance programs that are available in her area.
*I have decided to keep the pregnancy and place the baby for adoption …
A woman who wants to place a baby for adoption will need to find an agency that will arrange it. She should start by checking the phonebook or on-line listings. She may also call the Family Planning Association or another reproductive services clinic. Then she will also need to find a place where she and the baby can get the health care that they need. There are a number of options for women who have decided to place a baby for adoption, and a woman who chooses adoption should make sure she understands everything thoroughly before finalizing an agreement.
*I have decided to have an abortion …
Now that she has made the decision, she’ll need to find an abortion provider. She can locate them on-line or in the phonebook. She can also contact the Family Planning Association, Planned Parenthood, or another reproductive services clinic for more information. When she makes the appointment with the provider, they will give her detailed instructions on what she should do the day of the procedure.
NOTE: Women who use the phonebook to find abortion providers need to be careful. Many anti-choice ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ list themselves under “Abortion Services” and will try to talk her out of her decision when she calls them.
In the state of Ohio, women under age 18 must obtain a signed Parental Consent in order to have an abortion. If the parent chooses not to give written consent, the woman cannot have an abortion. If a young woman feels that she is mature enough and capable of making this decision on her own, she can petition her local juvenile court for a Judicial Bypass, which will allow the juvenile court judge to grant her the right to terminate the pregnancy.
No matter how she decides to handle an unplanned pregnancy, she should remember that she is the only one who can decide what’s best for her. She has a right to be treated with dignity and respect.