Teen pregnancy rates have recently been on the rise across the UK despite measures by the government medical professionals and community interest groups to lower these levels. No one is entirely certain why this happening, but whether a teen becomes pregnant by choice or buy chance it is obvious that (s)he needs information to help him/her decide about the future. This basic overview of frequently asked questions about teenage pregnancy should give any interested teen a background on the topic, but it should not be considered a comprehensive list of answers or resources. Parents, GPs, guidance counsellors, teachers, clergy and other adults and organisations should also be consulted by any teen facing a pregnancy and uncertain of the future.
What is a Teenage Pregnancy?A teen pregnancy is technically a pregnancy experienced by a young woman or couple in the teenaged years, between 13 and 19 years of age. For statistical purposes there may be a division made between the pregnancies of under-16 year olds and under-19 years old, and sometimes pregnancies experienced by those as young as 11 year olds are considered teenage pregnancies.
How Do Teenage Pregnancies Occur?Teenage pregnancies occur the same way that any other pregnancies occur – as the result of sexual intercourse. Some teens may intend to get pregnant, but research suggests that the vast majority of teen pregnancies are accidental and unplanned. Broken condoms, contraceptive pills taken incorrectly, “withdrawing” too late and completely unprotected sex are often the culprits of unplanned pregnancies.
What Options Exist for Pregnant Teens?Pregnant teens in the UK face most of the same options as any other expectant mothers or couples. The most common options include giving birth and raising a child, giving birth and putting the child up for adoption or having an abortion to terminate the pregnancy. Abortions are not available in Northern Ireland, and a young woman under the age of 16 may only have an abortion without parental consent if her doctors determine that she meets the Fraser Guidelines:
- She understands the medical professional’s advice.
- She can not be persuaded to inform her parents.
- She is competent to give consent to the treatment.
- It is in her best interest not to inform her parents of the procedure.
Teen pregnancies can be traumatic for everyone involved, not the least because few teens, their parents, relatives or friends know what kind of support is available for teen pregnancies and teen parents. If you or someone you know is facing a teen pregnancy, research the support available in your area as well as nationally with items such as housing, food, clothing and education, but most of all be there to provide emotional support regardless of the chosen outcome. Of course, the first step to seeking and finding support is telling others of a teen pregnancy, so be bold and share your secret or urge others to share theirs. Good luck!