Finding out that you or your partner are pregnant when you are in high school or just starting college can bring on strong emotions (surprise, fear, shame, joy, excitement, confusion, anger, etc.). Unintended pregnancies are not always the result of not using protection. Even if you take every precaution, deciding to have sex means accepting that there is some risk—no method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. Condoms break and birth control fails (or is used incorrectly).
If you suddenly find out you’re pregnant, you don’t need to handle this alone. Finding support as soon as possible is the best way forward. Many young people wait to seek help from trusted adults (this doesn’t have to be your parents—it can be a school nurse, a teacher, a counsellor, etc.) or from friends because they’re feeling overwhelmed. But the longer we wait, the bigger and more complicated the situation can get.
If you are pregnant and don’t know where to start or who to turn to, don’t worry. There are many excellent resources available to guide you through the process of learning about your options and deciding on a game plan. Call your local sexual health centre to help get you started or call our Access Line.
When it comes to making decisions around an unplanned pregnancy, remember that everyone is different and that we all have unique circumstances that inform the choices we make. Every person needs to make the decision that is right for them.
Some of us will choose to have an abortion and that’s ok.
Some of us will choose adoption and that’s ok.
Some of us will choose parenting and that’s ok.
Getting an Abortion as a Young Person
People of all different ages get abortions and for many different reasons. Whatever your age or reason, accessing safe abortion is your right. As a teen, you do not need your parent’s permission or a family doctor referral to get an abortion. Getting an abortion is entirely your choice and only yourself and the abortion provider need to know the kind of medical care you’re seeking. Abortion providers (like all medical professionals) are bound to confidentiality, meaning that they will only share information about your health care with you.
Abortion is part of health care. But sadly, abortion is not yet available everywhere in Canada. This means that, depending on where you live, you might have to travel to access abortion. There are two types of abortion available in Canada: medical (the abortion pill) and surgical (in-clinic). Both are safe, common, and confidential medical procedures. You can choose which option is best for you based on a combination of factors including where you live, provider availability, personal preference, and how many weeks you’ve been pregnant.
Know that people of different ages, life experiences, and relationship statuses get abortions for many different reasons. Only you need to know your reason(s). Whatever leads us to get an abortion, the circumstances and choices are never simple and only you know what the best choice is for you at any given moment.
Want to hear from youth about their abortion experiences? We Testify is a pro-choice, US-based site that compiles abortion stories from people whose voices are often marginalized in the media.
Looking for direct support? Call your local sexual health centre to help get you started or call our Access Line.
Teen parenting is rarely talked about in positive ways and that’s not helpful for anyone. Stigma, shame, and judgment only make it more difficult for young parents to succeed. Some young people choose to become parents and intentionally get pregnant. Some young people were not planning on getting pregnant but when facing an unplanned pregnancy, decided to go ahead and become parents (the same way adults do).
Young parents can certainly be great parents and deserve help to reach their potential. Teen parents need support, not stigma and judgment.