Healthy lives for young people
Pregnancy

Making a decision about a pregnancy

There are many different reasons why people get abortions, and all of them are valid. Find out more about deciding whether or not to have an abortion.

If you are pregnant you have three basic choices:

CHOICE A: go through with the pregnancy and become a parent.
CHOICE B: go through with the pregnancy and place the baby for adoption.
CHOICE C: end the pregnancy by having an abortion.

Things to think about

If you’ve done a pregnancy test and found out you are pregnant, you need to decide what you want to do next. Our pages on having a baby and adoption have lots of information about two possible options for you.

How do you feel about being pregnant?

In order to decide what you want to do, it is important to think about how you feel about being pregnant. Perhaps you planned to get pregnant because you wanted to have a baby, and that is still what you want most at this time. If so, you will probably decide on Choice A – continuing the pregnancy and keeping the baby.

If that is no longer what you want, or if you didn’t intend to get pregnant in the first place, you can start by looking more closely at how you feel about being pregnant. An unintended pregnancy can arouse many different feelings. In fact, most people find they have mixed or conflicting feelings.

For example, you might feel:

  • Worried about being able to manage a baby
  • Afraid you’ll have to give up other things that are important to you
  • Concerned about how other people may react

At the same time you may also feel:

  • Happy to learn that you can get pregnant
  • Pleased to have the opportunity to have a baby
  • Excited by a new and unique event in your life

It might help to list the different feelings you have right now about being pregnant. (When you can’t think of any more, go on to the next section. Later, if you think of other feelings, you can add them to your list).

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

It is also important to think about what you want from your future. Here are some good questions to ask yourself about your life right now and about your future:

  • What are two or three things that matter most to me in my life right now?
  • What are two or three things that I hope to have or achieve in the next five to ten years?

In order to achieve those things:

  • How would having a baby help?
  • How would adoption help?
  • How would abortion help?

What would I lose or give up right now:

  • If I have a baby?
  • If I place the baby for adoption?
  • If I have an abortion?

What are your beliefs?

Up to this point, you’ve been looking at the possible effects of different decisions on your plans and dreams. Now look at your thoughts, values, and beliefs about your situation and the different choices.

Following are some statements people often make. Check the ones that fit for you, and write in other thoughts you have.

CHOICE A: having a baby and keeping it

  • I feel ready to take on the tasks of being a parent
  • Some people have said they will help me
  • I want a child more than I want anything else
  • My partner and I both want to have a baby
  • I think I am too young (or too old) to have a baby
  • I don’t believe I can manage to raise a child properly
  • Having a child now would stop me from having the life I want for myself
  • I don’t feel ready to take on the tasks of being a parent

CHOICE B: having a baby and putting it up for adoption

  • I could continue the pregnancy and give birth, without having to raise the child
  • I could help the child have parents who want it and can care for it
  • I could postpone being a parent myself until later in my life when I feel ready
  • I like the idea of giving someone else the baby they can’t create themselves
  • I don’t think I could give up the baby after nine months of pregnancy and delivery
  • I would not like living with the idea that someone else has my baby
  • I would worry about whether the baby was being well treated. My family would rather have the baby stay in the family than go to strangers

CHOICE C: having an abortion

  • I would like to postpone being a parent until my situation is better (older, finished school, more financially secure, in a stable relationship)
  • I don’t want to be a single parent
  • My partner doesn’t want a baby, and I want to consider his feelings
  • An abortion is a safe and sensible way to take care of an unwanted pregnancy
  • My religious beliefs are against abortion
  • I would not like living with the idea that someone else has my baby
  • I’m afraid I might not be able to get pregnant again
  • My family (or someone else who is important to me) opposes abortion

Choosing to get an abortion

If you don’t want to have a baby, or go through with an adoption, you can choose to have an abortion. People choose to end a pregnancy for lots of reasons. It might be because they don’t want children, or aren’t financially able to support a child. It might also be because it would be medically unsafe for them to have a baby. Whatever someone’s reasons are for having an abortion, it is their choice and their right to do so. 

The only person who can decide whether an abortion is right for you is you. It’s really important to remember that the decision is up to you, because lots of people have very strong views about abortion – whether it’s right or wrong – but none of them are you, and it’s your choice.

Lots of people are against abortion, because of moral or religious views. They have a right to be against it, but they don’t have a right to force other people to think the same way, or to stop anyone from getting an abortion.

People who are against abortion often say that it has bad effects on the people who have them – for example, they say abortion causes mental health problems, or that people who have abortions find it harder or impossible to get pregnant in the future. This isn’t true. Lots of studies have found that abortion does not cause long-term mental health problems, or problems with getting pregnant. There’s no link between abortion and breast cancer, either.

Even though one in three women in the UK will have an abortion during her lifetime, many people who have had an abortion don’t talk about it. But you almost certainly know someone who has had an abortion, even if they haven’t told you that they have.

Some people are very clear about their decision to have an abortion. Some people find it really hard, and might take some time to make up their mind. Either way, it’s really important to be sure of your decision. You can talk to other people to help you decide – your friends, a family member, a counsellor, your partner – but in the end it has to be your decision. No one can make you have an abortion if you don’t want to, and no one has the right to force you to stay pregnant if it’s not what you want.

It’s OK to have different emotions about having an abortion, too. Because some people have strong anti-abortion feelings, sometimes people who have them feel like they are doing something wrong. At Brook we believe that abortion is not bad or wrong. We think anyone who has decided to have an abortion should be treated without judgement, because it is their decision.

People from all walks of life have abortions every day for every reason imaginable. Sometimes, even people who are against abortion might decide to have an abortion if they get pregnant and don’t want to be – and that’s OK too. Everyone has the right to choose and everyone has the right to confidential and safe medical treatment.

Talking it over

Whether the decision to have an abortion is simple or hard for you, you can talk it over with someone you trust if you want to.

If you’re going to ask a friend or family member for advice, please make sure you trust them completely, because if you want it kept a secret (which is your right), you don’t want them telling other friends or people you know. It’s fine to want to keep your decision private.

You can have an abortion without your parents’ or carers’ permission, even if you are under 16 years of age. Some people can talk to their parents about their decision to have an abortion and can get support from them. Some people don’t want to tell their parents, because they are afraid of what they might say, or because they don’t want their parents to know they had sex. You don’t have to tell them if you don’t want to.

If you are in a relationship, you might want to talk to your partner about your options. It is up to you. But even if your partner is the person who you became pregnant with, that doesn’t mean they can tell you what decision to make. It’s your body and your choice.

There are specially trained counsellors who can give you a chance to talk about your decision. If you go to your GP, you can ask to be referred to a counsellor. The charities British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and MSI Reproductive Choices UK have counsellors you can talk to before an abortion. Their counsellors are pro-choice – that is, they will not push you to have an abortion, or to continue with the pregnancy. They will listen to you and help you come to a decision, but the decision will be yours.

Crisis Pregnancy Centres

If you are looking for support around making a decision, be careful – some places pretend to offer ‘impartial’ and ‘unbiased’ advice, but actually they use counselling to persuade people not to have abortions. Sometimes they tell people that having an abortion is linked to breast cancer, or mental health problems – neither of which is true.

These places are called crisis pregnancy centres, and when Brook investigated them in 2014, we found they were trying to make up people’s minds for them, rather than helping them make their own decision.

Finding support

Brook services do not perform abortions but we do provide emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and abortion referrals. This means that Brook can provide you with emergency contraception, pregnancy tests, and if you are pregnant and want to end the pregnancy – we can refer and support you into other services near you that provide abortions.

If you would like more help or advice about abortion you can:

If you need help quickly

If you need help quickly you can contact these organisations:

  • For medical advice contact NHS by dialling 111 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • For help if you’re under 18 contact Childline on 0800 1111
  • For urgent emotional support contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90
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