A nice movie on this topic is „Juno“: The 16-year-old Juno realizes that she is pregnant. The father of the child is Paulie, a nice guy from her band. After visiting an abortion-clinic, she decides to carry the baby and give it for adoption. She wants to choose the adoptive parents herself. Together with her best friend, she finds the perfect couple in a newspaper. Although there are a few complications on the way, the story finds a happy ending for everyone: The adoptive mom, who has wished for wants a child; the baby that will grow up with her, and also for Juno, who can return to her teenage-life after giving birth.
What is great about the movie is the following: It shows that the pregnancy of a 16-year-old does not have to be dramatic. A girl who has an unplanned pregnancy, does not have to be “punished” and there can be a good solution for everyone. The film encourages. Nevertheless, this is still a comedy and not all scenarios are as light and funny as in Juno’s case. Juno, who takes life into her own hands, is self-confident and always has a cool saying on hand. The general feelings of many girls in the same situation are not found in her character, such as doubt, fear and insecurity, the conflicts of conscience and feelings of guilt.
In real life, there can be a lot of problems. The father of the unborn child is not always a nice guy like Paulie. Pregnancies can also result from rape. The environment does not always react to an unwanted pregnancy as lightly as in the movie: Many girls are afraid of the reactions of their family and friends, of their school, and the community in which they live in. They are afraid of losing their current lifestyle or the future they had wished for due to the child. They believe that they have to hide their pregnancy by all means. Sometimes they are even in denial about their own pregnancy and simply ignore what is happening to their body. Until it can no longer be ignored. Of course, it is better to understand the situation and ask for help as soon as possible. There are many ways to do so, even if not all of them might be obvious for you.
Pregnant or not?
First of all, you should find out if you are really pregnant. You can do so by using a pregnancy test – which you purchase anonymously and without prescription in every pharmacy, drug store or even online. You have to invest approximately 10 Euros for this. All pregnancy tests are based on the same principle: You immerse it in a container with your urine. If the urine carries the pregnancy hormone HCG, it activates the respective symbol, color, strip or digital display, which shows you if you are pregnant. If the test is negative, it does not mean that you are not pregnant. It could also be that you have tested too early. To make sure that it is really negative, take the test again after a few days.
You are really pregnant? Then you don’t have to handle it alone. Confide in a person that you trust, like a good friend or someone in your family or school. Another option is visiting an information center, such as Pro Familia, or going to a gynecologist. If you have a good relationship with the father of the child, he can accompany you, and you can decide how to proceed together. It is often a good idea to seek consultation outside of your immediate environment: To sort out your own thoughts and feelings, and understand what your true wishes are before including your family. You can further get help right here in our online consultation.
Keeping the child?
You may wish to keep the child and care for it yourself. Nobody has the right to force you into an abortion or giving the child up for adoption, even if you are still a minor. In case somebody – for example your parents or the father of the child – wants to force you into an abortion, they can be sentenced to prison.
You should, however, be aware of the fact that a life with a child is not easy. To raise a child is very hard and means a huge responsibility, which will change your entire life. You can quickly become overwhelmed with this situation! Without help, you probably cannot manage it. It will also become much more difficult to finish school, training for your job or study with a child. And that in turn makes it more difficult to find a well-paid job and take care of your child alone. This is why the risk of poverty increases with a teenage pregnancy. Nevertheless, there are many institutions, which will help you. First information (also on supporting facilities within your area) can be found on: www.schwanger-unter-20.de from the Federal Centre for Health Education. The Youth Welfare Office is a also good place to go if your parents do not want to support you.
Your parents are not allowed to kick you out. They are legally obliged to provide you with all necessary support. Even threatening to kick you out is an offence. Nevertheless, this is not a good foundation for having and raising a child. If your family does not accept your decision of having the child, you can contact a counseling center. You will find help and support there during the pregnancy, during the birth and the time afterwards. If you decide after the birth that you do not want to stay with your family, you can find shelter and security for you and your child in an assisted living facility.
As the movie „Juno“ shows, adoption is a an option! If you want, you can opt for an “open adoption”, where you can get to know the adoptive parents and can establish contact to your child later on.
Terminating a pregnancy
It is your life and your body. You have the right to decide freely how to proceed in the case of an unwanted pregnancy – even if you are a minor. If you opt for terminating the pregnancy, it is okay as it is your decision to make. In 2013 for example, the Federal Office of Statistics reported that 3,600 minors in Germany decided to have an abortion. Nobody has the right to forbid this.
Terminating a pregnancy is allowed if it is performed within the first twelve weeks after fertilization (i.e. 14 weeks from the first day of your last period). However, you are obliged to consult a recognized “pregnancy conflict advice center” such as Pro Familia. You do not need to be afraid of this consultation, which is required by law. In general, this consultation is about encouraging women to continue with the pregnancy. In case it is a financial decision, you can receive information about financial and social aid which you could get from living with the child. In case you have decided to terminate the pregnancy, you will not be pushed to change your mind. This decision is entirely up to you and the consultation is strictly confidential.
The most common method of abortion in Germany is the suction abortion. It can be used from the 6th week of pregnancy onward. The procedure only takes a few minutes, is one of the safest medical procedures, and does not hurt, as you will receive a local anesthetic beforehand. The abortion may only be carried out with the consent of the pregnant woman and only by doctors. It has to be paid for privately, but if the girl/ woman has a low or no income, they have the right to be treated for free, provided that they applied for it beforehand.
Under no circumstance should you opt for an illegal abortion, as they are life threatening. They are also not necessary in Germany, as you have other options!
Nevertheless, an abortion is not an easy decision. Many girls and women experience a conflict of conscience. However, studies have shown that girls and women who opt for an abortion feel relieved after the termination and do not regret their decision.
If you are pregnant and need support, you can find it right here in the online consultation!