The Feminist Women’s Health Center reports that a sexually active teenager who does not use contraception has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within one year 1. Teenagers also become pregnant when contraceptive methods, such as condoms or birth control pills, fail. Of those teenagers who become pregnant, more than one-third obtain an abortion, a forceful termination of the pregnancy through the removal of the embryo or fetus from the uterus.
Teenagers and Sex
According to the National Abortion Federation, four out five Americans have had sex by 20 years of age. The average age that individuals lose their virginity is 17, although most do not get married until approximately 10 years after that. This means that teenagers and young adults are at risk for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy for several years. The National Abortion Federation also states that 78 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended.
More than half of abortions are obtained by women under 25 years of age. In fact, 35 percent of pregnant teenagers have an abortion, according to the National Abortion Federation. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2006, there were 200,420 abortions among teenagers, and the majority of these teenagers are ages 15 to 19 years.
Laws involving teenagers and abortion vary by state. In some states, a teenager is required to get parental consent in order to have an abortion. If her situation prevents her from getting parental consent, she can attend a hearing and obtain permission from a judge. The majority of the time, one or both parents of the teenage mother know of the abortion. However, the younger the teenager, the less likely she is to tell her parents. The Guttmacher Institute reports that as of 2010, 34 states require a minor teenager to obtain consent from her parents for an abortion.
Teenagers seek abortions for many reasons. Some are concerned about how a baby would change their lives and feel that they are not prepared or mature enough for the responsibility. Lack of money, partner or family support are reasons as well. Teenagers who decide to have the baby are more likely to drop out of school and rely on state assistance, so there is some basis for the fear of how a child will affect future plans. Because of all the factors that affect a teenager’s decision, teens are more likely than other women to seek late abortions.
According to Pregnant Teen Help, in 2000 there were more than 1,800 places to get an abortion in the United States. Abortions can be done both surgically and medically. Some are performed by administering medications orally and vaginally, and this is typically done in the first trimester. In the second trimester, the baby is removed from the uterus wall with a vacuum or electric pump. Third trimester abortions are usually not performed unless the mother is in danger. Teenagers are most likely to get a second trimester abortion.
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