Teenage mothers 'talked out of having abortions'

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The Independent Online

Abortion is not an option for most pregnant teenagers because families and neighbours in many areas deem it unacceptable, researchers say.

Abortion is not an option for most pregnant teenagers because families and neighbours in many areas deem it unacceptable, researchers say.

In places with high teenage pregnancy, the girls were discouraged from abortion by the "visibility" of other young expectant mothers and babies. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, out today, said most young mothers "found themselves reliant upon their family of origin". But the researchers said there was "no evidence young women deliberately became pregnant to secure economic dependence".

The report focused on Doncaster, South Yorkshire, which has a high rate of teenage pregnancy. In interviews with 41 young mothers, almost all were "shocked" at finding themselves pregnant. The report said: "In the area studied, anti-abortion views were quite prevalent and families had generally not discussed abortion as an option for pregnant young women."

Some girls said they had been put under great pressure by relatives and members of the community not to terminate the pregnancy. One, called Belinda, said: "His parents lived at the house, he told his parents, and they sat there constantly the whole three to four weeks that I sat there deciding what to do about Ben. They said, 'If you get rid of that child you are murdering our grandchild'."

Other teenagers were worried about how abortion was viewed by their peers. One girl said: "You wouldn't be able to go to school. You'd get called [names]. You'd probably get hit an' all, wouldn't you?"

Although political, cultural, ethical and religious sensitivities affected decisions on teenage pregnancies, the report found there was also a "real lack of knowledge" of the crucial time during pregnancy when decisions must be made.

Schoolchildren needed more information on abortion and motherhood so young women could make informed decisions.

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