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How to Deal with Teenage Pregnancy – Abortion and the Choice to Terminate a Pregnancy

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The discovery of being pregnant can be a very traumatic event for a teen. There are a variety of options available to a young girl in this situation, each with its own emotional consequences. One option which many pregnant adolescents choose with a heavy heart is the termination of their teenage pregnancy. Abortions cause many teens to suffer in silence, often alone and ashamed of sharing their choice with others. Adults must make sure that a pregnant teen is not pressured into choosing an abortion and that she receives all the necessary emotional support when terminating her teenage pregnancy.

Abortion consists of ending a pregnancy before the unborn child can live outside the mother. An abortion can be either spontaneous, called a miscarriage, or it can be deliberate (induced). Before 1973, induced abortions were illegal; the case of Roe vs. Wade, however, forced the Supreme Court to confirm a woman’s right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

The safest abortions are done in the first trimester of pregnancy, which corresponds to the first 12 weeks (weeks are calculated from the woman’s last menstrual period). There are a few different types of abortion, and the specific type performed on a particular teen depends on how far in the pregnancy she is.

The earliest type of termination of a teenage pregnancy – abortion - that can be done is called a medical abortion, which can be done within the first nine weeks of pregnancy. Two different drugs may be used, methotrexate or mifepristone (RU486), followed by another drug called misoprostol. This type of abortion does not require any type of surgery, but takes longer to work, requiring several visits to the doctor or clinic. There is often quite a bit of cramping and bleeding at home; indeed, the combination of these two drugs has the effect of causing the uterus to expel the fetus. This procedure is unsuccessful approximately 10% of the time, causing a woman to turn to the second major type of abortion, the surgical abortion.

The most common type of termination of teenage pregnancy – abortion - is vacuum aspiration, a surgical procedure in which an anesthetic is given to the woman to manually extract the fetus from her uterus. This procedure can be performed within the first trimester of pregnancy. For this procedure, the cervix is gently dilated about a quarter-inch and a narrow tube is inserted through the vagina, then the cervix, and into the uterus. The contents of the uterine lining are then vacuumed out. The procedure lasts a few minutes and more often than not the woman returns home the same day.

As with all pregnancies, teenage pregnancy abortions in the second trimester (beginning the 13th week of pregnancy) are rare, though they do occur; prostaglandin is given in a clinic and this results in uterine contractions which can last several hours. Abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy, or the third trimester, are only performed if the fetus is severely deformed or if the mother’s life is in danger.



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