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Teenage Women, Abortion and Law

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Teenage Women, Abortion and Law

Abortion has always been a very controversial issue. This can be due to the fact that people have different beliefs that are emphasized by their own religion and set of moral values. Many people believe that abortion is wrong, but they believe that is it only wrong under certain circumstances. This could be true, but is it more right to kill for a specific reason than to just do it because you made an irresponsible decision? Because of the wide spectrum of religion and various moral beliefs, there will never be a right or wrong answer to abortion.

Fact: Each year, one million American teenagers become pregnant, and 85% of these pregnancies are unintended.

Four in every five Americans begin having intercourse before age 20. Many of the youngest women in this group (60% of those age 15 or under) report having had sex forced on them. By the time they turn 20, about 40% of American women have been pregnant at least once. Many of these young women have little understanding of their bodies and have begun having sexual intercourse before knowing about ways to prevent pregnancy.

Because teens in other developed countries receive more education about sexuality and have more access to contraception and family planning services, they have much lower rates of pregnancy and abortion. For example, in the Netherlands, where teenage sexual activity is about the same as in the U.S., pregnancy rates are only one-ninth those of the United States.

Fact: Of teenage women who become pregnant, about 35% choose to have an abortion rather than bear a child.

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Teenagers with unplanned pregnancies face difficult choices. If a teen gives birth and keeps the baby, she will be much more likely than other young women to:

„X drop out of school;

„X receive inadequate prenatal care;

„X rely on public assistance to raise her child;

„X develop health problems;

„X have her marriage end in divorce.

Children born to teenage mothers are more likely than children of older mothers to suffer significant disadvantages: medical, psychological, economic, and educational.

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Many states have enacted, or are considering, laws that restrict teenagers' access to abortion by requiring parental involvement in the abortion decision. Such laws include:

„X Parental notification laws that require medical personnel to notify a minor's parent(s) of her intention to obtain an abortion;

„X Parental consent laws that require medical personnel to obtain written permission from the parent(s) before performing an abortion;

„X Almost all of the parental notification and consent laws have judicial bypass options that allow a teen who feels she cannot involve her parent(s) to get a judge's permission to proceed with her abortion. Some states allow a professional counseling instead of parental involvement.

Fact: Restrictive abortion laws may worsen family communication rather than promote it.

Abortion providers encourage teenagers to tell a parent or another important family member about their plans, and most teens do. Even without state laws, one or both parents of 61% of minors know about their daughters' abortions. The younger the teen, the higher the likelihood that she has told her mother about the situation.

Those young women who do not or cannot tell their parents, however, often have important reasons such as a family history of alcoholism, emotional or physical abuse, or incest. To involve such parents could invite further abuse of the teenager and other family members.

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Rather than tell their parents - for whatever reason - some teenagers resort to unsafe, illegal abortions or try to perform the abortion themselves. In doing so, they risk serious injury and death, or in some cases, criminal charges.

Fact: Restrictive laws endanger teens' health by inhibiting them from seeking safe medical care early in pregnancy.

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Doctors recommend that when a woman becomes pregnant - whether she plans to give birth or have an abortion - she seek medical care immediately. In the



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