Teenagers and abortion

This section of the guide looks at teenage abortion. The decision to have an abortion or not is a difficult one but even more so if you are a teenager. In fact, it can be very scary!

This section is also useful for anyone who is the parent of a teenager who is considering an abortion or who works with teenagers in a daily setting.

For a teenager, being pregnant is not always what they expected or wanted. If it is planned then they will require a great deal of help and support during and after their pregnancy. Pregnancy puts a great deal of strain both physically and mentally on the mother, and even more so for a teenage mother.

But what is even more daunting is being faced with an unwanted pregnancy. If you are in this position then you may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell your parents or your boyfriend. You may even find it difficult to discuss it with your friends.

What you are worried about is other people’s reaction to you. Your boyfriend may equally be embarrassed or uninterested in talking about abortion. Likewise your friends may not know how to handle your news and may appear unsympathetic.

Talking to your parents about an abortion

You do not have to talk to your parents about this if you don’t want to. If you are under 16 and are thinking about having an abortion then you can go ahead without your parent’s permission.

Your GP or your local family planning clinic will suggest that you talk to your parent’s but they will not pressurise you to do so. If they feel that you are mature enough to make a rational decision about abortion then you will not be refused this procedure.

If you ask your GP not to mention your request for an abortion to your parent’s then he/she has to respect that decision. What he or she might do is to recommend that you talk to another adult about your decision and to get some help and advice via a counselling service.

Talking to a counselling service

There are several counselling services which deal with abortion and pregnancy issues which are specifically aimed at young people. One such example is Brook (www.brook.org.uk) which is a registered charity. These are a series of advisory centres for teenagers and young people in the UK which provide free advice and support. This advice includes abortion.

Your local family planning clinic or sexual health centre will also offer counselling. Private abortion clinics have their own in-house counselling service which is available on a 24 hour basis.

These specially trained counsellors will offer you an objective and sympathetic opinion about your desire for an abortion and will support you whatever your decision. This support will be offered to you before, during and after your abortion.

Talking to others

It may help to talk to an older brother or sister or a member of your family who you trust. Their help and support can be invaluable during what is a difficult decision to make. Plus an abortion can be a physically and mentally demanding procedure which can leave you feeling very low at times.

This is where it is vital to have someone to turn to who will provide a sympathetic ear for any concerns that you might have.

If you are pregnant and are thinking of having an abortion then your first step is to talk to your GP or your local family planning clinic. They will discuss the procedure with you which will be based upon your individual circumstances. They will also recommend counselling.

There is more than one type of abortion and the one you will have depends upon your present circumstances and the number of weeks pregnant you are.

Find out more about these different types in our methods of abortion section.

Under 16 and abortion

You will not be refused an abortion if you are under 16 unless there is a very good reason for doing so. As long as the doctor or your GP is sure that you understand what an abortion entails and the outcome then he/she will accept your decision.

You do not need to bring your parents with you to the surgery and your medical history (which includes details of your abortion) will be kept confidential. This information will not be divulged to your parents or anyone else unless you request this.

Your GP may advise you to mention your abortion to your parents after the procedure as you will require care and support but this is your decision only.

Note: if your GP, family planning or sexual health clinic suspect that you are at risk from violence or are being harmed then they will inform social services. They are obliged to do so but they will inform you beforehand.

Does abortion prevent you from having children in the future?

Some teenagers worry that having an abortion means that they will be unable to start a family later on in life. But this isn’t the case, unless you are one of a few very rare cases who experiences serious complications of an abortion, for example pelvic inflammatory disease.

But these are extremely rare.

As long as you follow any advice and instructions given to you by your GP or the clinic then you will be fine.

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