Tough Choices: Options for pregnant teens

There are many things to consider if you should find yourself a pregnant teen.

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There's no one way to deal with an unexpected pregnancy. How some teens deal with pregnancy depends on their personal beliefs, family support, and plans for the future.

Paola Bautista

According the the Centers for Disease Control, 664,435 abortions were conducted in 2013, which is the most recent data available. There has been a downfall in abortions, but the majority of them were performed on teenagers and women in their twenties, proving that teen pregnancy continues to be a social issue. Sexually active teens take on many risks, like STDs, but pregnancy is one that many don’t think about. There are multiple routes teens can take after they give birth to their child or even before they choose to give birth to their child. Abortion, adoption, and keeping the child are the options teens can take, depending on their personal beliefs, family support, and goals for the future.

 

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a national health organization committed to reproductive and and pregnancy wellness through education, support, advocacy, and community awareness, it is legal for a minor to get an abortion by a doctor with the permission of their parents and as long as the fetus is no bigger than 24 weeks. Although abortion is looked at in a negative way in society, teens may abort their baby for several reasons. One of them is feeling rejected by their friends once they find out about their pregnancy. Another is the fear they have about their parents’ reactions to their pregnancy news. And finally, the most common cause for abortion among teens, is the pressure and rejection they get from their partner. One can get abortion options through a Planned Parenthood agency. There are a lot of medical centers that give tons of information for teens and their parents.

 

Regardless of the stigma associated with abortions, teens should always keep in mind that they need to do what’s right for them.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which helps state legislators make decisions by providing them with unbiased information, only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school and fewer than 2 percent finish college by age 30. Those are some pretty intense statistics and prove that having a baby as a teenager is not a decision to take lightly and no one should make that decision based on how society will perceive them. In fact, in response to Republican threats to defund Planned Parenthood, abortion activists Amelia Bonow, Lindy West, and Kimberly Morrison started the hashtag #shoutyourabortion in order to speak out against the misconceptions and myths about abortions that people often think are true. The point is to normalize abortion and help other women who may be struggling realize that there is nothing wrong with them to consider this option.

 

Adoption is also available for teens and it is not looked at as negatively as abortion because many parents are looking for newborn babies everyday. There are many adoption agencies in Illinois; therefore there are many options available. Pam Brown, a counselor at Adoption Center of Illinois, a non-profit, licensed child welfare agency located in Chicago, helps birth mothers and fathers choose the best adoption plan for them. Every adoption plan is custom made to fit the parents’ choices. Adoption counselors will also explain the parents’ rights prior to the adoption. This agency also is available after parents give their baby to someone else. Adoption agencies know that it is very hard to give up a child; therefore, they have assistance with a personal counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Some options the ACI gives are an open adoption, which lets birth parents know what happens to their children by keeping in touch with the adoptive parents. But birth parents can also decide not to keep in touch. If the child is born with some sort of disability and the adoptive parents change their mind, the agency will help everyone involved make the best decision for themselves, which is really what the organization’s goal is all the time.  “We are not here to tell you what to do, and we respect your decisions,” ACI’s Brown said. “We are here to help you decide what you think is best for you and your child. No one can tell you whether adoption is right for you. This is a question each person must decide for themselves.”

 

If teens do decide to keep the baby and raise it, they can expect three things: sleepless nights, tiresome days, and a life full of joy, says 19-year-old Yesenia Casas. In her senior year of high school, Casas became pregnant. She talks about her pregnancy as a hard time for her emotionally and physically. She said her pregnancy was very hard because she was trying to keep up with school, sleep, and make sure she did not stress out a lot since it was during the last few months before graduation. Her classmates were very happy when they saw her belly grow as time passed. But some friends left and never talked to her again because they did not want to be around her anymore during that time. When she dropped the bomb to the baby’s father, she said he was really scared since he knew it was early to have a child and he thought he was not going to be able to take care of them both and be a good father. But as time passed, he was certain that he would be the greatest father he could ever be, no matter what happened.

 

Telling her family was one of the hardest things Casas ever had to do. Her mother and uncle were very disappointed in her, but were very supportive throughout her pregnancy.  She describes the first months after the baby was born as very tiring and difficult. But she stated that as time went by, they started learning more and now her son is a healthy eight month old.

 

“I think my life changed for the better because I feel that God blessed me with a child for a reason,” Casas said. “Maybe my life needed to be turned around. I never considered abortion, and the only reason I would give my son up for adoption is if I knew I would not be able to support him and give him a better life.”

 

Yesenia E. Guzman stated that being pregnant while still in school was a struggle. “The hardest thing for me was waking up, not feeling sick, and being able to stay awake,” she said. Guzman struggled for a while because she kept the news a secret. After she told her parents, they were really upset, but eventually supported her because they believed she could be a great mom. When she told her partner that she was expecting, she said he was really excited at that time. After the baby was born, she ended up as a single parent and depends on the help of a small circle of friends. She said she never considered abortion or adoption for her baby because she made the choice to be sexually active and she knew she would try her best to give her child a good life. “I’m glad where I am in life right now. I just experienced a mother’s love a little early,” said Guzman.

 

Both girls want to give advice to those teens who are being sexually active without protection and to those who are already expecting a child:

 

“To teen mothers, don’t always think on your own,” Casas said. “Seek for help if you need it. You have family and friends who are willing to help you out no matter what the problem is. To teens having sexual intercourse, always think before you do it, because if you could face the consequences even when you think it will never happen to you.”
“Live life day by day,” Guzman added. “Having a baby around this time is not something you should do unless you’re prepared. And for those teens who are expecting, work hard for your baby to give them a good life and education. They deserve it.”