What are my choices once I know I'm pregnant?
- continue the pregnancy and raise the child, or
- continue the pregnancy and place the child for adoption or in temporary foster care, or
- have an abortion
A counselor at CHOICE (800-848-3367), Monday - Friday, 8:30 am-7:00 pm, or at many women's health clinics can help you think about the choices you have and steer you to good medical care and other supportive services.
Please don't delay seeking help out of fear. Should you decide to get an abortion, the earlier you have the abortion the better. Most abortion providers only offer abortions early in pregnancy, and later abortions are more expensive and carry additional risks. If you decide to carry your pregnancy to term, early prenatal care is important for your health and the health of your baby.
What if I decide I want an abortion?
Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania and in every state for women of all ages. In Pennsylvania, however, most young women aged 17 and under must get permission for the abortion from one parent or a judge.
What must I do to get an abortion?
CHOICE can refer you to a doctor, hospital or women's clinic that provides abortions where you will be respected and your confidentiality will be guaranteed: 800.84.TEENS. They can also talk to you about your next steps.
Be careful about finding an abortion provider through the phone book. There are many "crisis pregnancy centers" in Pennsylvania that pretend to be women's medical providers, but are actually fake clinics run by anti-abortion extremists who try to frighten and bully women out of having abortions.
Remember -- no one can force you to continue your pregnancy. No one can force you to get an abortion or use birth control.
Does every young woman 17 or under have to get parental or judicial consent to get an abortion in Pennsylvania?
In almost all cases, if you are 17 or under and want an abortion, you have three choices:
1. You can get the "informed consent" of one of your parents or your legal guardian.
2. You can meet privately with a judge who can OK the abortion without telling your parents.
3. You can get the abortion in another state which does not require consent of a parent or judge.
IF YOU DECIDE TO GET AN ABORTION, YOU HAVE 3 OPTIONS:
1) Get a parent’s informed consent.
Before a woman of any age may have an abortion in Pennsylvania, she must listen to a short lecture on abortion that the state requires doctors and medical staff to give. Then she must wait at least 24 hours before signing the consent form for the abortion. The state lecture and the 24-hour delay are called "informed consent."
Both you and a parent (or your legal guardian) will have to listen to the state lecture and then wait at least 24 hours before consenting to the abortion. It is not necessary for both of you to listen to the state lecture at the same time. It is also not necessary to involve both parents -- one is enough.
If you want to talk to your parents but are afraid or unsure of how to start, call CHOICE at 1.800.84.TEENS.
2) “Judicial Bypass” -- meet with a judge.
Some young women decide that they cannot tell their parents about their pregnancy. If you do not want to tell your parents about your pregnancy, or if your parents know but have refused to give you permission for an abortion, you can have a private hearing before a judge to get an order okaying the abortion. This option is called "judicial bypass."
3) Go to another state
New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Washington, D.C. permit young women to consent on their own to an abortion. Maryland permits doctors to perform abortions without notifying young women's parents if the doctor finds that the young woman is mature, that it would not be in the young woman's best interests to involve the parents, or that other specific circumstances apply. Also, none of these states requires women to undergo the state lecture and 24-hour delay.