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Faced with an Unintended Pregnancy? Here Are Your Options

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Half of all pregnancies are unintended.  Finding out that you are pregnant can be a shock even if you were trying – but even more so if you weren’t. If you have become pregnant without intending to, you have three basic options, but first take some time to let the news sink in and think about your choices. If you haven’t already, see your doctor as soon as possible to confirm the pregnancy. Then talk to him or her – or a counselor – to make sure you understand your options and are equipped to make the best decision for you. The choices you have are:

1. The Decision to Become a Parent

Parenting is both challenging and rewarding. The experience of growing a baby inside of you is unlike any other, and then you get to raise a child to be a unique individual with his or her own talents, interests, and personality.

If you choose this option, keep in mind that a good support system is essential. There are seemingly endless decisions to make: if you are single, will you marry the father? If not, what type of financial and parental support is he able to provide? Will you have the financial support you’ll need otherwise? How can you make raising a child fit in with continuing to strive for your personal long-term goals?

In addition to making choices about your future lifestyle and choices about parenting, there are even more immediate concerns, and those include the fact that you have gotten pregnant without first preparing your body and ensuring that you were doing everything you could to be as healthy as possible. Prenatal care is especially important, and be sure to discuss with your doctor any medications you have been taking, including herbal or “natural” supplements. You’ll need to start taking care of yourself and your baby immediately, but don’t worry – your chances of delivering a healthy baby are excellent.

2. The Decision to Place Your Baby for Adoption

Adoption has come a long way, so if raising a child isn’t a good option for you and abortion isn’t right for you either, you should be aware of the wide range of options available to mothers looking to place their babies for adoption today.

Benefits of adoption include being able to choose the adoptive family, having considerable control over many of the details that will affect your child’s future. You can also choose what type of relationship, if any, you would like to have with your child over the coming years. Remember that you can change your mind at any point in the process, up until the child is six months old in many states. Support groups and other counseling services can help you work through your feelings and feel good about your choice – whatever that choice turns out to be.

3. The Decision to Have an Abortion

The decision to have an abortion is never an easy one, but sometimes it is the right one. Learning about the different types of procedures and the risks they carry can help you make an informed decision.

Every woman’s situation is unique, and women choose abortion for many reasons, including not being ready to be a parent, not being financially able to support a baby, feeling that having a baby would make school, work, or caring for other children too difficult, being too young to be an effective parent, feeling that her family is already complete, having health problems, and having a pregnancy that is the result of incest or rape.

Talking to someone you trust who has had an abortion can be helpful, as can learning as much as you can about the laws in your state regarding abortion. Think about your values and your views on abortion, as well as your reasons for choosing this option. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about how an abortion might affect your health, relationships, or future fertility.

Unintended pregnancy is never easy, but getting as much information as you can about your choices, talking to someone who can help you through the process, and being honest with yourself about your individual situation can help you make the right decision for you.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H

Legitimate Rape or Legitimate Ignorance?

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

In February, there was a hearing chaired by Daryl Issa for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing on the Contraceptive Coverage Rule.  Unfortunately, the panel was entirely male.  Talk about oversight!  This prompted many female members of congress to walk out of the hearing in protest, much to the confusion of the chair.  When asked about the walkout, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “If our republican colleagues want to continue to take this issue head on, we will stand here as long as necessary.”  In August, women received a fresh reminder of the Republican male’s perspective on rape when Representative Tod Akin proclaimed, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Women around the world are wondering what constitutes the difference between rape and legitimate rape.  John C. Wilke, who is not an obstetrician, but a general practitioner of almost 90 years old, and who is the former President of the National Right to Life Committee is the only doctor who supports Akin’s remarks regarding whether or not the reproductive system of a woman shuts down during rape.  With such credentials, it goes without saying that he may have a bias and outdated view of rape and the female body, and experts disagree with his supposedly medical explanation for his belief.  In fact, one in 15 raped women become pregnant, no matter what definition of rape you choose.  Are Akin and Wilke suggesting that those rapes were not legitimate?  I doubt it seemed that way to the women when it was happening.

The most disconcerting part of all of this is that representative Akin has the power to influence laws in our country.  In this day and age, we hope that men have at least the decency and empathy to listen to the voices of women in our country, and, heaven forbid, include us in panels and decision-making regarding our own reproductive rights.  Hopefully, there are a lot of women and understanding men out there willing to make their vote count in order to make a positive change for all of us.  I wonder, is it pure prejudice keeping men like Akin in the dark when it comes to women’s health issues and reproductive rights, or is it legitimate ignorance?


– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.