What to Know about Pregnancy as a Minor

You’ve dreamt about your high school years as the time to have fun with friends and to work hard for your future. An unplanned pregnancy throws uncertainty and doubt into those dreams. Even as a pregnant teenager, you have options, and you have the strength to make the best decision for you.  Who is a minor? Anyone under the age of 18 in California is considered a minor. Parents or legal guardians must care for, protect, and support minors. Minors receive permission from their parents for certain things such as medical procedures or obtaining a driver’s license.  What are my rights as a pregnant minor? In California, pregnant minors have the right to make a choice regarding their pregnancy. She can choose to parent her baby, place her baby for adoption, or have an abortion. No one can pressure or force a minor to make a decision regarding her pregnancy.  Do I have to tell my parents that I’m going to have an abortion?  California does not require a minor to obtain permission from her parents for an abortion. However, minors considering abortion should receive education about abortion contraindications, procedures, and risks. Many minors also benefit from telling a trusted adult about the pregnancy.  How do I tell my parents that I’m pregnant?  Telling your parents about your unplanned pregnancy feels scary because you’re unsure of how they’ll react. Every parent will respond differently, but most pregnant teenagers want to tell their parents as soon as possible. Prepare yourself beforehand and calmly speak with clarity.  Can my parents force me to have an abortion?  If your parents don’t support your unplanned pregnancy, they may try to pressure you to have an abortion. They may say things like, “Have an abortion, or else I’ll kick you out of the house.” Legally, your parents must provide you with housing, education, food, and safety. They cannot force you to have an abortion. If you feel like anyone is pressuring you to have an abortion, contact a trusted professional. Do my parents have to consent to my prenatal care?  Medical professionals must provide pregnant minors with prenatal care, without telling their parents. (The only time healthcare providers must report the pregnancy is if abuse was involved). Any medical services related to the pregnancy such as doctor visits, labs, ultrasounds, and delivery do not require your parent’s consent. After the birth of the baby, you make healthcare decisions for your baby.  Do I need my parents’ permission to place my baby for adoption?  In most states, unless you are younger than 14 years old, you do not need to have your parents’ consent to place your baby for adoption. But your parents may still want to be involved in the process so that they can support you well. You’ll still make all of the decisions regarding the adoption.   Does adoption work differently for a minor?  The adoption process works the same way for all pregnant women, regardless of age. Most women choose an adoption agency that will guide them through each step of the pregnancy and process. The agency will empower you to make a plan for birth and adoption. Even some of the costs related to pregnancy may be covered through an adoption.  Do I have to tell my boyfriend that I want to place our baby for adoption? In California, the father of your baby must be notified that you’re placing the baby for adoption and he must give up his parental rights. An adoption agency can walk you through that process as well.  Do my parents have to know that I’m getting birth control?  As a minor, you can receive contraception from healthcare providers without your parents’ consent. You can also seek testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections without the knowledge of your parents. All of your medical information remains confidential.  Do I have to tell my high school that I’m pregnant?  You’ll eventually want to tell your school about your pregnancy so that they can support you well. Legally, they must accommodate you. This means that they must allow you to miss school for doctor’s appointments, pregnancy-related concerns, and delivery. The school must help you make up whatever assignments you miss, and they cannot treat you any differently just because you are pregnant. After the birth of the baby, the school must allow you to breastfeed/pump if you wish, miss school for your child’s appointments, and accommodate your new life as a mother. You have the right to stay involved in the school’s programs and clubs. Most schools have processes and programs for teenage mothers – just ask!  Will I get in trouble if my boyfriend is older than me?   Each state has different laws about the age of sexual consent. Some states have laws that allow consensual sex between partners within a certain age gap. But regardless of the age difference, you have the right to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.   As you navigate the uncertainties of pregnancy, take everything one day at a time. At Alternatives Medical Clinic we want to empower you to make the best decision for you and your future. After verifying your pregnancy, we’ll provide education about all of your options. Make an appointment online or call us today to speak with our kind and confidential team. 
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