What is pregnancy options counseling?

Deciding about options for an unplanned pregnancy: Overview

Finding out that you're pregnant when you didn't plan to be may cause many emotions. It also means that you will need to decide what happens next.

In general, the options are:

  • Continue the pregnancy and become a parent.
  • Continue the pregnancy and arrange for adoption.
  • End the pregnancy by having an abortion.

For some, the course of action is clear. Others may have a harder time deciding what to do. You may need to take some time to think through your options.

Only you can know what's right for you. But it may help to have some support as you consider your next steps. You might talk to a trusted friend, a family member, or a counselor. Or you may want to talk with your doctor or someone at a Planned Parenthood health center. You can also call the All-Options Talkline at 1-888-493-0092 for judgment-free support.

What might you consider when deciding about an unplanned pregnancy?

You may have emotional, financial, religious, or other reasons for choosing to continue or end a pregnancy. How long you've been pregnant may also affect your options.

As you weigh your options, you might ask yourself how you feel about:

  • Choosing to parent. Parenting can be wonderful. It can also be very hard. Raising a child is a lifetime commitment. How do you feel when you think about being a parent? Who can you count on for support? What resources could help you?
  • Choosing adoption. Many people who make this choice are relieved to know that their child is being cared for in a good home. Others feel a sense of loss that lasts longer than they thought it would. What emotions do you have when you think about adoption? If you need more information, one source is the National Council on Adoption (adoptioncouncil.org). You can search their directory to find an agency or attorney to help you through the process. You may need to get the birth father's consent to plan an adoption.
  • Choosing abortion. Making the decision to end a pregnancy may not be easy. What feelings do you have when you consider an abortion? Are you younger than 18? If so, you may need the consent of a parent or guardian to get an abortion. If this is your choice, it's important to know that abortion is safe. But it may or may not be legal where you live. No matter where you live, if you need an abortion, you can reach out to Planned Parenthood. They can tell you where you can get an abortion and how to access that care. There may be funds available if you need to travel.

To decide what is right for you, it may help to think about your life and your values. For example, what plans do you have for yourself in the next 5 or 10 years? How would each option affect those plans? How important is it to you to become a parent? If you are already a parent, how does this affect your decision?

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