Millions of women face unplanned pregnancies every year. If you are deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy, you have a lot to think about. You have three options — abortion, adoption, and parenting.
Whether you're thinking about having an abortion, you're helping a woman decide if abortion is right for her, or you're just curious about abortion, you may have many questions. Here are some of the most common questions we hear women ask when considering abortion. We hope you find the answers helpful.
How Can I Know If Abortion Is the Right Option for Me?
We all have many important decisions to make in life. What to do about an unplanned pregnancy is an important and common decision faced by women. In fact, about half of all women in the U.S. have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in their lives. About 4 out of 10 women with unplanned pregnancies decide to have abortions. Overall, 3 in 10 U.S. women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.
Women have abortions because they care about themselves and their families or their future families. Every woman's situation is different, and only you can decide what is best in your case. If you're trying to decide if abortion is the right option for you, you may find it helpful to list the advantages and disadvantages of having an abortion. Think about what advantages or disadvantages are most important to you. Consider how you feel and what you think about abortion, what you want for your life and for your family or future family.
Some Things to Ask Yourself If You Are Thinking About Abortion
Think about what your answers mean to you. You may want to discuss your answers with your partner, someone in your family, a friend, a trusted religious adviser, or a counselor.
Who Can Help Me Decide?
Women can feel alone or isolated when they are considering abortion. You may feel that it's hard to talk to the people you normally reach out to for support. Some people can be very judgmental. When you're around judgmental people, you may feel bad about yourself or your decisions. Seek out people you know will support you and who will understand that you're trying to do what's best for yourself and your family or future family.
Most women look to their husbands, partners, families, health care providers, clergy, or someone else they trust for support as they make their decision about an unplanned pregnancy. And many women go to the clinic with their partners. But you don't have to tell anybody. If you're 18 or older, it is entirely up to you who you tell.
If You Are a Teen …
Teens are encouraged to involve parents in their decision to have an abortion, and most do have a parent involved. But telling a parent is only required in states with mandatory parental involvement laws. Such laws force a woman under 18 to tell a parent or get parental permission before having an abortion. In most of these states, if she can't talk with her parents — or doesn't want to — she can appear before a judge. The judge will consider whether she's mature enough to decide on her own. If not, the judge will decide whether an abortion is in her best interests.
In any case, if there are complications during the abortion, parents of a minor may be notified.
Specially trained educators at women's health clinics — like your Planned Parenthood health center — can talk with you in private. Or you may bring someone with you if you wish. When choosing a clinic, beware of so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" that are run by people who are against abortion.
How Soon Do I Have to Decide?
Abortion is safe, and serious complications are rare — but the risk to your health increases the longer a pregnancy continues. Abortions performed later in pregnancy may be more complicated but are still safer than labor and childbirth. So, even though it's important to take the time you need to make the decision that's best for you, it is important that you understand there may be greater health risks later in pregnancy. So, you may not want to wait too long.
How Is Abortion Done?
If you decide to end a pregnancy, your health care provider may talk with you about different abortion methods. You may be offered the option to have an in-clinic abortion, or you may be offered the abortion pill.
Are There Any Long-Term Risks of Abortion?
There are many myths about the risks of abortion. Here are the facts. Abortion does not cause breast cancer. Safe, uncomplicated abortion does not cause problems for future pregnancies such as birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight babies, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.
If I Have an Abortion, How Will I Feel Afterward?
A range of emotions is normal after an abortion. There is not one "correct" way to feel. Some women feel anger, regret, guilt, or sadness for a little while. For some women, these feelings may be quite strong.
For some women, having an abortion can be a significant life event, like ending a relationship, starting or losing a job, or becoming a parent. It can be very stressful and difficult. Other women have an easier time after abortion.
Serious, long-term emotional problems after abortion are about as uncommon as they are after giving birth. They are more likely to happen for certain reasons — for instance, if a woman has a history of emotional problems before the abortion, if she doesn't have supportive people in her life, or if she has to terminate a wanted pregnancy because her health or the health of her fetus is in danger.
Ultimately, most women feel relief after an abortion. Women tend to feel better after abortion if they can talk with supportive people in their lives. Post-abortion counseling services are available. Contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talkline, that provides confidential and nonjudgmental emotional support, information, and resources for women who have had abortions.