TEENAGE LATE TERM ABORTION
Teen pregnancy rates are on the decline in the United States. With that said, half of first non-marital births are to teens and almost 8 in 10 teen pregnancies are unintended. Eighteen percent of U.S. women obtaining abortion are teenagers; those aged 15-17 obtain 6% of all abortions, teens aged 18-19 obtain 11%, and teens under age 15 obtain 4%.
The U.S. has a higher incidence of teenage pregnancy rate than other developed countries. The reason for this is sexually active teens in the United States are less likely to use any contraceptive method and especially less likely to use highly effective hormonal methods, primarily the pill, than their peers in other countries. U.S. teens that become pregnant are also less likely to opt to have an abortion, whether due to lack of abortion access, higher levels of antiabortion sentiment or greater acceptance of teen motherhood.
The lack of government sponsored education for birth control measures other than abstinence and inability to access the medical system, is the reason for the higher levels of pregnancy rates among teenagers as well. Just educating our young people regarding abstinence is not working.
Teenagers have late term abortions for various reasons. The most common are fear of what family members may say, do or think of them; not aware that they are pregnant; denial that they are pregnant; rape victims of incest; or multiple other reasons that cause delay in it coming to the surface that the teenager is pregnant. Women who seek and have late term abortions often come from disadvantaged situations. Teenagers younger than 15, particularly of minority status, have a disproportionate number of late term abortions. Menstrual irregularity is a very important risk factor as women with irregular menses often discover late in term that they are pregnant. Other risk factors for late term abortions besides young age are low educational attainment, history of a sexually transmitted disease, unable to decide whether or not termination of pregnancy is the proper thing to do. There are many women that do not realize that the option for a late term abortion is available, they may not initially have the finances and may need weeks or even months to raise money to pay for the abortion or lack the transportation to get to a late term abortion provider. On top of that, physicians who offer late term abortion procedures are scarce.
I can't count the numerous times that a mother has said to me that she thought that she and her daughter had an open relationship and that she has asked her countless times to please come to her if she was considering or thinking of becoming sexually active so that she could be placed on birth control. Or the mother happened to walk in the bathroom one day and saw her daughter half way nude and she saw that she had a "larger belly". Or that the daughter was taking off her coat one day and noted that her "stomach was large". This is when there is an urgent and emergent call to see if it is possible to take care of what the parent sees as "a problem". What the parent sees as a problem may not be a problem to the patient. And therefore after discussion and evaluation of the patient alone, if it is concluded that the patient is being forced to have an abortion and that is not what she wants to do, the procedure is not done and the patient is sent home with additional appropriate referral resources.