“I’m 15 and have been dating my boyfriend for a few months. We found out last week that I’m pregnant! He plans to start working full-time at his job so that we can afford to raise our baby. But I don’t know if I’m ready to be a mom yet. When I told my parents I’m pregnant, they were furious and very disappointed. They let me know they made an abortion appointment for me. Can they make me get an abortion?”
No. Unless you are in a medical emergency and your life is in danger, they cannot force you to abort your baby. Even though you’re a minor, you still have the right to make important health and life choices.
Abortion providers will only perform abortions for women who have chosen to get one. So, the choice of having an abortion must be yours. Any parent who tries to force their daughter into abortion may be legally charged for child abuse, battery, or other crimes.
Just because your parents think you should have an abortion doesn’t mean it’s actually what’s right for you. You can learn from their experience, but you need to determine what’s best for yourself. This is your body and your choice, but abortion is the only choice that can’t be reversed.
It’s common to feel like your life is out of whack when you’re facing a pregnancy at such a young age. So we recommend taking some time to think about what’s best for you and your baby.
Every woman who has an unplanned pregnancy has three options. She can get an abortion, raise her baby, or place her baby for adoption. It can be hard to decide which option is best for you. Talking with a trusted adult, like a therapist, teacher, or religious counselor, can help you with your decision.
Am I Ready to Be a Mom?
You are in charge of what happens to your baby, even as a teen mom. But there are lots of things to think about before deciding to raise a child.
When you become a parent, you’re responsible for your child for at least the next 18 years. Parenting requires significant commitments in time and money. Being a teen parent isn’t easy, even if you have help from family and friends. It’s usually frustrating and complicated. Children of teen parents may also have a more challenging time growing up.
Before deciding to parent your baby, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I make enough money to support myself and my child?
- Am I ready to give up my social life with my friends to take care of my baby?
- How do I feel about stopping my education and dropping out of high school to parent?
- Am I mature enough to avoid harming my child physically or emotionally?
- Am I ready to put my school and future career plans on hold?
Parents hold authority over you and can be very persuasive! Some argue that teens don’t have the physical and mental capacity to understand the ramifications of their decisions. They believe that parents should have the legal right to impose their will on their children because they ultimately have the child’s best interests at heart. We recommend talking to your parents; ask them if they will kick you out if you didn’t get an abortion.
In extreme situations, a temporary restraining order can be placed on your parents to prevent them from taking action. You can also write a letter to the clinic staff, letting them know you are not consenting to abortion and they could be held legally responsible.
What About Adoption?
If raising your baby doesn’t seem like it’ll work, adoption is a positive choice you can make. With modern, open adoption, you can select the adoptive parents to raise your baby. If he’d like to get involved, your boyfriend can help you pick.
Open adoption also means you can stay a part of your child’s life as they grow up. With this type of adoption, you wouldn’t be saying “goodbye” to your child forever. You can witness your baby growing up through videos, emails, phone calls, texts, and visits with the adoptive parents you select.
So really, the choices are yours! Open adoption allows you to decide about future contact, how things will go in the hospital when you deliver, and who will raise your baby.
Lifetime Adoption helps women who are thinking about adoption. They can give you info about how adoption works and help you find the support you need in your local community. Just call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 12, 2013, and has since been updated.