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Lecture 12

PSY 349 Lecture 12: Consequences of Unwanted Pregnancy

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PSY 349
Marci Lobel

Consequences of Unwanted Pregnancy Abortion Among Adolescents • Birth rate of unwanted pregnancies in Americans is higher than in Europeans • Americans may be sexually active earlier • CDC found that among teenagers who unintentionally became pregnant the most common reason for not using contraception was the thought that they couldn’t become pregnant • Illegal abortions have a high rate of morbidity and mortality • In the US, safe and legal abortion is available but restricted, especially for adolescents o Some states involve parental involvement or parental consent Parental Involvement Laws • Parental notification laws: requires that one or both parents be notified before • Parental consent laws: explicit consent from one or both parents • 37 states require this; 3 of those states don’t have an exception for medical emergency; 15 have exceptions for abuse or neglect • Purpose of these laws is to protect adolescent girls from making a harmful decision and promote better family functioning by ensuring the parents are involved in the girl’s decision making and care • All 50 states allow minors, without parent’s permission, to consent to treatment for STIs • Most states don’t involve parental involvement for prenatal care, delivery, or adoption • These laws differentiate abortion from other services; claims that abortion is “high risk” o “Abortion is a significant risk for adolescents” o “Adolescents are not capable of making adequately informed decisions” o “Adolescent girls benefit from having their parents involved” Does Abortion Cause Harm? o Compared to the risks of child baring, there are few medical risks o Mortality risk of childbirth is 30 times greater than of abortion o Risk of psychological harm is low for abortion o Studies find that rates of distress after an abortion are lower than before the abortion o Percentage of women who experience clinically significant distress is the same as women who haven’t had an abortion o Depression and post-traumatic stress is lower in women who have had an abortion than women in the general population o Studies do not support the idea that there is psychological harm for adolescents o Adolescents who had an abortion had significant decreases in anxiety and significant increases in self-esteem than adolescents who had a negative pregnancy test or carried the baby to term o Not a difference in emotional state after an abortion comparing young girls to adults; both young girls and adult women experiences decreases in depression and increases in relief Ability to Provide Informed Consent? • We think we’re invulnerable • Studies think that there isn’t a difference in this in adolescents and adults • Studies find the adolescents don’t differ in their response to hypothetical options and use the same amount of reasoning and logic; important to consider the limitations of this research • Study: looked at girls 14-15, 16-17, and 18-21 o Measures of competency: volition, global quantity, and awareness of consequences o Amo
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