Pregnancy options counseling
Pregnancy options counseling is a form of counseling that provides information and support regarding a women's pregnancy. Woman seeking pregnancy options counseling are typically doing so in the case of an unintended pregnancy. Limited access to birth control and family planning resources, as well as misuse of birth control are some of the major contributing factors to unintended pregnancies around the world. In 2012, the global rate of unintended pregnancies was estimated to be 40 percent, or eighty-five million pregnancies.
Pregnancy options counselors educate women about the different options that are available and help guide them to a decision on how to proceed with their pregnancy. The options include abortion, adoption, or parenting. The job of a pregnancy options counselor is to neither encourage nor discourage a woman's particular decision, nor do they profit from the woman's choice. Rather, they present unbiased information about each of the options non-judgmentally, then help the woman explore her feelings and come to a decision that fits her best based on her values, culture, future plans, etc. Pregnancy options counseling centers are not the same thing as crisis pregnancy centers, which may not provide unbiased information.
One option that a woman with an unplanned pregnancy may consider is abortion, the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 40–50 million abortions are performed worldwide each year. About 20 million of these abortions are considered unsafe and result in around 67,000 deaths each year. Abortion rates are similar across countries despite its being legal in some and illegal in others. In other words, just as many women get abortions in countries where it is illegal as in countries where it is legal. The only difference is that they proceed with illegal abortions, which are more likely to be provided under unsafe conditions by poorly trained providers. A woman's pregnancy options in regards to abortion would be presented differently by her counselor, depending on the country they are in. The Mexico City Policy is an example of governments restricting this aspect of pregnancy options counseling.
Worldwide abortion policies
Different countries have different abortion policies, which are based on the extent to which the unplanned pregnancy is affecting mother and fetus. 96 percent of countries allow abortions to save a woman whose life is at risk. Six countries in the world do not permit the termination of a pregnancy under any circumstance; that is 3% of the world's countries that do not allow abortion at all. There are 50 countries (26%) that allow an abortion only if it is to save the mother's life, 82 countries (42%) that allow abortion to save the mother's life or for at least one of the following reasons: to preserve the woman's physical health, to preserve the woman's mental health, in the case of rape or incest, to avoid fetal impairment, or for economic or social reasons. Lastly, 58 countries (30%) allow abortions on request for any reason, though these countries usually do not allow the pregnancy to be terminated beyond a certain stage.
Types of abortion
Should a pregnant woman's country allow her to get an abortion, a pregnancy counselor can help her to address the tough questions that might arise and give her information on the types of abortion. Once a woman has decided on abortion, there are two ways in which one can be induced. The first type of abortion is a medical abortion that involves the use of drugs. This option is only feasible within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. After that, the only other option is a surgical abortion which involves the removal of the placenta and fetus.
Adoption is a permanent, legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from child's birth parents to the adoptive parents. Pregnant women looking to place their child up for adoption have many options as to how much involvement they wish to have in choosing the adoptive parents and to some degree. Nonetheless, birthmothers choosing to put their child up for adoption are legally terminating their parental rights to the child. Adoption laws differ state by state; adoption agencies, counselors, and lawyers can be used to provide information to the birth parents and adoptive parents about this process.
Types of adoption
There are two general types of adoption to choose from: closed adoption, and open adoption. Closed adoptions are when the birthmother and adoptive parents have no contact with one another. In this case, the records of the biological parents are kept sealed. Closed adoptions are becoming less common within the United States but are still prevalent in international adoptions. Open adoptions occur when the biological mother and adoptive parents chose to keep in touch, though the amount and type of contact varies case by case, depending on what both parties agree on.
Choosing to parent
If a pregnant woman seeking pregnancy options counseling is considering completing her pregnancy, whether it be in the case of adoption or that she is choosing to parent, her next step would be to start prenatal care. Prenatal care is a type of preventative healthcare which serves to prevent potential health problems and promote a healthy lifestyle during the pregnancy.
If a mother chooses to parent her child, she should also expect to make some lifestyle changes to ensure the health and safety of her unborn child. The suggested lifestyle changes include stopping the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs. The mother is also encouraged to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
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