For teenagers facing abortion, it is a psychological, social, and philosophical dilemma that must be encountered. After the Roe v Wade case in which the court decided that a woman should have the right to choose, limited abortion rights were granted to minors. As a result, numerous states enacted various forms of parental notification and consent laws. “In most states, the law requires that parents of teenagers provide written approval of the minor’s decision to terminate her pregnancy, or that they be notified by a physician” (McDonagh 21). An ongoing debate has continued regarding the notification of parents on abortion.
Even though many psychologists believe that parental notification can have a long-lasting impact on the teenager’s physical and psychological well being, decision-making capability, and family relationships, opponents believe that such notification laws are unnecessary because a significant portion of teenagers confide in their parents about pregnancy and would seek their advice on pregnancy options and alternatives. Therefore, parents are already involved in providing emotional and psychological support and assisting her in the decision-making process.
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Also, a small percentage of teens are living in abusive and unstable situations at home and the laws would cause them to delay seeking termination of their pregnancy because of the fear of the parental reaction. On the other side, those who believe that parents should be notified argue that if parents are notified, they will be there to provide support in dealing with the psychological impact of abortion. They also argue that teenagers are not experienced at making decisions for themselves and therefore will not make the decision that is best for themselves and for their family. “Information must be obtained on the psychological effects of abortion on teenage mothers before any federal law goes into existence on teen abortions” (Schwarz 43).
Statistics show that in the United States abortion is committed by many teenage mothers. A bill was passed requiring a teenage girl to notify her parents before having an abortion. The problem the bill faces is that there is a Privacy Amendment in the Constitution that protects women’s right to choose abortion. Sponsors of the bill argue the fact that in any other surgical procedure, other than an emergency, doctors are required to notify the parents before they do surgery. However, in many economically and education-deprived sections of the US, many teenagers are living in potentially violent families or a father who might even be responsible for his daughter’s pregnancy. In a case like that, the father may be so enraged about a daughter’s decision to have an abortion he may physically and sexually assault the teenager and thus psychologically damaging the teen for life.
For some teens, abortion as a means of coping can become a stressor. For many teens, abortion is used as a coping mechanism for adolescents who are not ready for parenthood. However, abortion for some teens can be the very thing that causes stress. “Over 20 percent of teens who have an abortion have posttraumatic responses, including depression” (Fettner 87). This is because a teen that becomes pregnant will form a strong attachment to the fetus. This causes many problems because it causes a grief reaction that is difficult to overcome. “Teenagers who were traumatized by their abortion experience often say they felt forced to have an abortion and that the experience was tremendously filled with emotion” (Fettner 87).
The posttraumatic response to an abortion is not dissimilar to any other traumatic event like a car accident or the witness of a death. “The teenager will have flashbacks of feelings of attachment to the child and often return to the place of the abortion, and even deny that the abortion even took place” (McDonagh 64). In many cases, some adolescents will resort to drugs and alcohol to escape the flashbacks and be able to sleep. Also, many of the teenagers who do have an abortion many times come back pregnant again and have another abortion. Many girls fear punishment from God and the negative reaction to abortion may not be met with much comfort.
Each year, one million American teenagers become pregnant, and 85% of these pregnancies are unintended. Four in every five Americans begin having intercourse before age 20. Many of the youngest women in this group report having had sex forced on them. By the time they turn 20, about 40% of American women have been pregnant at least once. Many of these young women have little understanding of their bodies and have begun having sexual intercourse before knowing about ways to prevent pregnancy.
Because teens in other developed countries receive more education about sexuality and have more access to contraception and family planning services, they have much lower rates of pregnancy and abortion. For example, in the Netherlands, where teenage sexual activity is about the same as in the U.S., pregnancy rates are only one-ninth those of the United States. Of teenage women who become pregnant, about 35% choose to have an abortion rather than have a child.
Many times teenagers make mistakes that they later regret. “Even though many of them are not as extreme as getting pregnant, they still have to deal with the consequences of the mistake and learn to deal with them” (Levy 11). They cannot go back and change what they did because it is impossible to do so and the only way to deal with their mistake is they accepted it. “Teen pregnancy cannot be escaped through abortion because there are many long-term psychological effects” (Levy 12). A teen mother must take care of the child that they conceived with the help of the father and raise it into the best family and environment that they can.
When a teen becomes pregnant, she is naturally bonded to her child no matter what she plans on doing with him/her. As a result, abortion is a very traumatic event that can have long-lasting effects on them. The effects can be severe depression and an inability to cope with the outside world. Because of these effects, she can become extremely violent and be hazardous to herself and others around her. “In order to maintain the attachment to the fetus, the child should have been born and not been aborted” (Levy 13). Attachment is something natural that occurs between a mother and fetus and is there for a reason so that the mother can take good care of the child when he/she is born. It is not natural for the mother to have the pregnancy aborted because otherwise, she would not feel a connection to the fetus. Many teenagers have immoral sexual relationships which put their lives in danger because of STDs and the risk of becoming pregnant again.
Abortion is undeniably psychologically damaging. The consequences are not always seen immediately, and the initial reaction may be one of relief now that the problem has been eliminated. However, feelings of depression, anxiety, and guilt can begin to come to the surface months or even years later.
Abortion is an assault on motherhood, something that is fundamental to human nature. Abortion isn’t like having a tooth taken out, even though some people seem to believe they are similar procedures, judging from their light attitude toward the subject. It is the deliberate destruction of a defenseless, innocent life, and it is often devastating to the woman and the relationship. Unfortunately, this course of action, the most harmful, is frequently proposed by the teenage father or the pregnant girl’s parents, without taking into consideration the repercussions an abortion has on the future lives of the couple and their families. All they see is a quick, easy solution: pay the doctor, eliminate the problem and, supposedly, forget.
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