Abortion

Being pregnant when you didn’t plan to be can be scary and confusing.  Deciding what to do about your pregnancy can also be a very difficult decision.  But it’s not a decision you have to make alone. As hard as it might seem, talk to your parents or your doctor if you can.  If that’s not possible you can call a family planning clinic or call the MA Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933 for more information.

Abortion is a pretty hot topic at my school.  Some people think it’s wrong while others believe that it should be a choice that’s available.  While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, when you have a tough decision to make, getting accurate information should be your first step. When you face an unplanned pregnancy, you have a choice to make. You can:

This section deals with ending a pregnancy.  I asked my Aunt Lucia (who’s also a women’s health doctor) some questions about abortion and here’s what she said:

What is an abortion?

An abortion is when an embryo or fetus is removed from the womb (uterus), so that the uterus goes back to how it was before a woman got pregnant. Abortions can happen naturally (sometimes referred to as a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion) or can be done with medications or surgery.

Aunt Lucia says abortion should not be used as a form of birth control.  There are much better ways to avoid unplanned pregnancies. She also says that abortion is not the only option you have if you do get pregnant and are not sure you are ready to be a parent.

Is it safe?

My Aunt Lucia says that abortions are generally safe and effective as long as they’re done by experienced and licensed doctors.  She says that there are risks with any medical or surgical procedure and that early abortions have less risk than those done later in the pregnancy. The risks of abortion also increase if you have sedation or general anesthesia. Some other possible risks include: an allergic reaction, blood clots in the uterus, incomplete abortion (part of the pregnancy is left inside the uterus), infection, injury to the cervix or other organs, or very heavy bleeding.  Most often, these complications are simple to treat with medicine or other treatments.  Rarely, there can be more serious complications, so make sure you understand those risks before you make your decision.

How common is abortion?

While choosing to have an abortion can be a difficult decision, a lot of women, for a variety of reasons, decide to have one. Based on new data, it is estimated that about 1 in 3 women in the United States will have had at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

How much does it cost?

If you have health insurance, it may cover an abortion.  Abortion is covered by most Massachusetts health insurance plans including many kinds of MassHealth.  Some people may not have health insurance or may not want to use their health insurance to protect their privacy.  Without insurance, an abortion can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars.  Costs for an abortion are usually lower in clinics than in hospitals, and earlier abortions are less expensive than later ones.  If you do not have health insurance or the resources to pay for an abortion, there are resources to help you.  You can talk to your doctor, a family planning clinic or call the MA Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933 for more information.

Can I get an abortion in Massachusetts if I’m under 18?

If you’re under age 18, haven’t been married and you decide to have an abortion, Massachusetts law requires the consent of at least one of your parents or a legal guardian, or authorization by a judge.  A woman under 18 who is married or has been married (and is now widowed, separated or divorced) does not need to get parental consent or a judge’s approval.

If you are under 18 and are considering whether an abortion is right for you, it is best to discuss your pregnancy and options with your parents. If you are not sure you can do this on your own, your doctor can do it with you. 

You can call the Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933 for help, or you can also call the Planned Parenthood Counselling and Referral Hotline at 1-800-258-4448.  If you decide that you really can’t talk to your parents, these places will help you consider all your options.  If you decide you want to get the approval for an abortion from a judge, they will provide you with a free lawyer who will help you.  These hearings are scheduled quickly and are kept completely confidential.

How do I decide what to do?

By gathering accurate information, talking to your parents or an adult you trust if that’s possible, and by making the decision that is best for you.
You have the right to decide what to do without feeling judged, pressured or criticized.  You also have the right to accurate information to help you make the best choice for you. This is a difficult decision that you have to make based on your own situation and what you think is best. What may make sense for someone else may not make sense for you.  Get all the facts and consider all the options before deciding what is right for you.

If you are under 18, you should discuss this decision with your parents if at all possible. Your regular doctor, nurse, or family planning clinic can give you the facts about your options confidentially, but if you want help in talking with your parents about your situation, they can do that too.

If you can’t talk to your parents, you can also ask another trusted adult, like a relative or guidance counselor for help.  You may also want to learn more about the options of parenting and adoption before you make your decision.  You can call the Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933 for help.  They can provide you with information and support to help you make the decision that’s right for you with absolutely NO PRESSURE either way.

Resources

To get more information about all of your options, including abortion, you can talk to your doctor, a family planning clinic or call the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts' Sexual Health Counselling and Referral Hotline: 1-800-258-4448.  Hotline staff and volunteers are available Monday-Thursday 9 AM - 8 PM and Friday 9 AM - 6 PM.

There is also an online Guide to Abortion Care in Massachusetts that has a lot of additional information that’s easy to read.

If you want to read more about your other pregnancy options, click below:

  • Choose to continue the pregnancy and parent your child
  • Choose to continue the pregnancy and make an adoption plan

  • Next section: Pregnancy Links