View Full Version : Teen Pregnancies and Abortion?

05-22-2007, 08:48 PM
I'm writing a YA novel about a teen pregnancy. It takes the form of the young man's English 12 journal. Though I was in my 30s when our first child was born, I felt 17, so I feel I have a grip on the fears and anxieties of the narrator.

I'm curious about the female's perspective, though. She is an athlete, a serious student, and her immediate reaction to getting pregnant is anger toward the narrator. She cuts him off. They each experience denial about what has happened. But there seems to be no question that she doesn't want to have the baby.

I just wrote a part, about half-way into the novel, where the narrator wonders if the female has/is considering abortion. It's the first time I, as the writer, considered it as a possibility at all. However, I'm pretty sure it would be in the minds of both characters. Therefore, I'm feeling like I need to spend more time addressing this.

Here's my question: Based on your own or someone else's YA pregnancy, how much attention is given to the possibility of abortion? Upon learning of the pregnancy, was abortion the first option that came to mind, or was it not even considered? Why or why not?

I know it all depends on a young person's upbringing, their situation, their beliefs, etc., and I've worked with teens in similar circumstances, but I thought I'd ask for additional insights before delving into the issue in my novel.

Please don't be offended by my asking this; if you don't want to respond, don't. Thanks in advance for your input.


05-22-2007, 08:50 PM
I would not have considered it for myself unless it was because of a rape, however I know that other young people would at least be thinking about it - especially the over-achievers.

05-22-2007, 09:51 PM
The Duke has friends that got pregnant as teend. Two of them come to mind. One was very similar to your female char in that she was a good student and a serious athlete. She actully had a scholarship to a good school to run track. She decided to keep the baby and give up on school. She thought about aboration but decided it wasn't an option for her.

The other person that comes to mind got pregnant in highschool twice. She had abortoins both times. The second one was on the day of her graduation. She walked in the graduation btw.

They're really is no clearcut answer to this question as everyone will have a diffrent opnion based on thier own life.I would say that the idea pops into everones head at least once. I would also say that becuase they're in deneil about it the idea probably won't come up until its too late.

05-22-2007, 11:19 PM
I have two scenarios for you:

One was my own personal experience. I discovered I was pregnant at 17 and thought seriously about having an abortion. The dad was a major ass and I didn't want to "ruin my life." I was already depressed at the time and didn't need the added stress of trying to explain the situation to both families. School was important to me, and I also didn't want to be tied down with the responsibility of caring for another living being. A few days later I finally decided to keep it. It was, after all, my own fault for not using protection or keeping my legs closed, and who was I to decide life or death for the tiny thing? Then the next weekend I miscarried. On mother's day, no less... ugh. Needless to say it wasn't a fun experience (I spent a lot of time crying before and after), but every time I think of it I breathe a sigh of relief. I'm wise enough now to realize I couldn't have handled either the baby or the attention from its dad, so the miscarriage was a good thing for me. Though my family still thinks I had an abortion, and it irritates me they think so, especially when I had already made up my mind to keep it. Currently I have no children but I plan to within the next few years.

The other scenario was that of my friend from high school. She actually did go through with an abortion at about the two month mark. There was no doubt in her mind she didn't want a kid right then. However, after she had the procedure the only thing she could think about was seeing the aborted fetus in a jar (not sure if she actually saw that or if she simply imagined it). The image stayed with her for quite a while. She was listless and seemed defeated for a few days. After that she vowed never to abort again, and now she has a little daughter in a "legitimate" relationship.

Just from heresay, I know there were some other girls who aborted and were happy with it. Like you said, it's all about personal preference, upbringing, and all that. Ultimately it differs from person to person, but I'm sure everyone at least thinks about it once if they're in a shaky relationship or having the kid out of wedlock. All I know is that it typically doesn't go well for the mother if she has the kid in high school or, God forbid, sooner.

Hope that helped!

05-23-2007, 05:58 PM
Thanks so much for the replies. Sassee, yours was especially insightful.

Back in college, I went with a friend when she went to have an abortion. It was a frightening experience, one that (like your friend) haunted her for a long, long time afterward.

This is giving me some good ideas for the story. If the female lead seriously considers abortion, she would be the type to tell the would-be-father, even if she is angry with him. Therefore, it's something he as the narrator would know about and could relate to the reader.

I'm definitely leaning toward addressing this topic more, but my major concern is that I don't want the issue to take over the story. Abortion is so controversial and important, but I don't want it to overshadow everything else. Nor do I want the book to sound preachy or political or moral. So, I'll have to keep it under control.

Sorry, just thinking out loud here!

Thanks, folks.

05-23-2007, 07:33 PM
Sorry to be responding late here but I wanted to throw out some thoughts.

You are correct that so much depends on the individual. What your character thinks or chooses will be reflective of other people's choices, but also will be uniquely her own.

You say in the first post that she does not want to have the baby but then your narrator is surprised when he wonders if she is considering abortion. I think that speaks to your narrator's naivete, but that may be very much in line with your character's character.

Your female character's decisions will be influenced by a lot. Consider the state laws where your novel is set. Are there restrictions on age? Parental consent? Gestation limits for abortion? Does she have access to healthcare? Someone she trusts? A parent? Older sibling? Is she the type to make a fast decision? The more she delays, the more challenges she will face having an abortion. And culture does play a huge role in teenagers' decision making when facing an unplanned pregnancy. What I see in my clinic that serves a mostly Hispanic Catholic population is lightyears different from my clinic that serves a different population.

I can tell you my story. I was nineteen and in my first year of college when I got pregnant during a spring break visit with my boyfriend. I remember sitting in my dorm room and feeling hyper aware of a living being in my uterus. I knew my options, but at that moment a thought was clearly and concretely in my mind. I knew that I would not have an abortion. I knew that I would never ask for a single thing from my boyfriend if he did not want to be involved, and I knew I would have this baby.

And I did.

Your female character may struggle or she may have a deep and unshakable knowledge of the action she will take, whatever that action may be.

05-27-2007, 01:20 AM
Great thread. I hesitated to respond because back in the day my pro choice position resulted in death threats for me and several doctors I know. So I will share to help you with your realism in your book.
I worked as a bilingual counselor in a women's clinic that provided pregnancy termination. The teens (a noticeable percentage) usually had an adult family member with them and there were also the ones whose boyfriend was there too. These guys behaved very supportively and kind and I admired their courage-despite the uncomfortable setting for them there in the waiting room, I might add. We had our share of rapes and incest. We turned undecided women and girls away advising them on learning more about their options. And we/I had our share of women who made the choice against terminating- ( you would have counseling and then have to wait a period of time before the procedure is scheduled to allow for your decision to cement.)
We counselors asked why and a whole list of probing questions to make sure it was their decision. Teen girls were very well informed of the options including adoption. One response that was common was they were not ready for the responsibility and they didn't want another person raising their child. Another fact is many of these girls have the viewpoint and belief that life begins at birth not conception which eliminates the life long regret. Another interesting aspect of this is that my best friend from college was a strong pro-life activist and our friendship continued uninterrupted and thrived on our respectful difference of opinion. So you can have characters that will disagree with her and stand by her. Hope this helps!

Plot Device
05-27-2007, 01:43 AM
I would say that the idea pops into everones head at least once.

I agree. Especially a teenaged girl still in high school. No matter how religious the girl, she will at least THINK about abortion, ENTERTAIN the thought.

05-27-2007, 04:18 AM
There were two brushes with abortion during my high school experience. I went to school in the 90s when abortion was the big topic and there was/is an abortion clinic in my home town.

The one that’s easy to share revolves around this girl who was one of the biggest pro-life at any cost Catholic girls I have ever met. We used to just go around and around on this issue so many times. She was one of those “If you can’t support a baby you should just keep your legs together.” Well my senior year of high school she showed up noticeably pregnant. Needless to say she took a lot of grief. Here she went from protesting an Aware Women clinic to being pregnant.

Despite being the biggest spectacular example of hypocrisy our world had ever seen she carried the baby to term and gave it up for adoption. I have to give her a lot of credit for that.

We met a few years ago at some friend-of-a-friend party and after we had both drunk a few beers I asked her about that whole thing, and she said she considered abortion for a good couple weeks before she told her parents she was pregnant. If a teenager can go from protesting an abortion clinic to considering one I would have to think the thought crosses anyone’s mind.

05-27-2007, 06:10 PM
I went to high school in New Jersey back in the late 1980s. I knew of three women who'd had an abortion and maybe a half-dozen others rumored to have had one.

I know it sounds like a weird thing to say but I think it depends a lot on social class. Middle-class women aren't expected to get pregnant and have a kid while in high school or college. At the same time, they want to go on to college and then have a career. Having a child isn't what they want or can handle at that time in their life.

05-27-2007, 09:12 PM
One of my best friends went through this as a teen. She got pregnant by a guy and he freaked out, threatened to punch her in the stomach in order to kill the baby. He started looking more and more like he really was going to be physically abusive, both to her and to their unborn child. The girl had a history of abuse, and wasn't willing to put herself or her child through that. She also really needed to graduate school; she had no real support network other than school. She had the abortion, and is strongly pro-choice to this day, even though she now has 2 children who mean the world to her.

About 5 years ago, another friend of mine, a Catholic, got his (also Catholic) girlfriend pregnant. He was jobless and living with his parents; she was way too young and living with hers. Her father was abusive, and didn't know that she'd lost her virginity. She was terrified. She called him and told him about the pregnancy, hoping he'd offer to marry her on the spot. To show him how desperate the situation was, she phrased it something like this "Now we'll have to get married, or else I've got to get an abortion!" My friend was freaked out, and though he gladly would have married the girl, the mention of an abortion gave him pause. He thought she had already considered it, and decided that it was a good option. He asked her about it, and the rest of the conversation was about abortions. She ended up going through with it, thinking it was what he wanted, and he sat in the waiting room, thinking it was what she wanted. They broke up over the whole thing, and he nearly committed suicide. To this day, he says that he is responsible for the loss of his child and is doomed to hell.