Teen pregnancy has been declining in the United States, but two studies found that the reaction of the teenage girl’s partner to the pregnancy has a big impact on whether she aborts their child. In a 2021 study published in the pro-abortion book “Abortion and Mothering,” researcher Sarah Bekaert interviewed teens who had abortions and examined their reasons for aborting. In a second, older study, researchers Sharon Tabberer, Christine Hall, Shirley Prendergast, and Andrew Webster interviewed teens who became pregnant to determine the reasons they aborted or carried to term.
Two studies found teen fathers have a strong influence
While both studies are from the United Kingdom, the results of each are likely generalizable to teen pregnancy and abortion in the United States. The 2021 study revealed:
Whether negative or positive, the partner’s reaction to the pregnancy is significant across the young women’s accounts… The baby’s father was the first person they tell of their pregnancy, and across the stories, the young women’s decision about whether to abort or carry on was influenced by the partner’s feelings and reactions.
In this study, there are no examples of the young men deciding on the pregnancy outcome; however, their reactions were considered by the young women and influenced their decision.1
The other study also found that many of the teens who had abortions did so because of pressure placed on them by other people – either by their parents or the father of the baby. Two of the 11 teens who aborted said that they did so because the baby’s father wanted them to. The researchers wrote:
[T]here was some question as to whether or not the choice was entirely [the girls’] own, with some young women having overt pressure put upon them… Where the decision was identified by the young woman as not being her own, there was more regret shown, although still an appreciation that this might have been the best decision at the time.2
The older study also found that when it comes to teen pregnancy, the “Response of boyfriend [was] especially important.”3
Pregnant teens had abortions because the baby’s father wanted them to
Angelique was only 13 when she became pregnant. Her boyfriend immediately suggested abortion:
He was like, try and get an abortion, that’s the first thing he told me… There’s nothing we can do. Everyone’s going to find out. Everyone’s going to be angry, your dad, your brother and everything. So, I was like oh, okay, abortion in my head.4
She did as he wished and aborted her baby.
When Carleen became pregnant, she considered abortion. Her boyfriend was initially excited about her pregnancy and seemed to want the baby. She decided to have her child. But as the pregnancy progressed, Carleen’s boyfriend went from happy and supportive to hostile. “Far into the pregnancy,” he told her he wasn’t ready to be a father and wouldn’t give her any help once the baby was born. Carleen said:
Well, he wanted the baby at first. I was always the one to say no, not yet. And then the tables turned, and he started getting scared…
At first, he was rubbing my belly, kissing my belly; then when it really hit him when the baby started getting bigger. He got a bit scared and said I don’t think I can do this.
So, it was really hard, and I had to… the decision… I was already far gone… He just got a bit daunted, and he started to get frightened at times, like how was he going to provide, what’s he going to do, how to find a job.5
Carleen ending up having a late-term abortion after her boyfriend changed his mind.
In the second study, one teenager told researchers, “It was the choice, him or the baby.”6 She chose abortion. Another teen who aborted recalled that her boyfriend said to her, “well go round to [the] doctor’s, sort it out.”7
Researchers interviewed Lisa, another teen who had an abortion. She was asked if anyone gave her advice about her pregnancy, and she responded, “Well, no, I wish they had done! I wish they’d said! The only person that was giving me advice was [the boyfriend] ‘Get rid of it!’ ‘Get rid of it!'”8
The baby’s father’s support leads to girls rejecting abortion
In contrast, two girls, one in each study, did not abort their babies because their boyfriends wanted the children and offered to help and support them. Teen mother Fiona recalled:
So from the start we were going to get rid of the baby, but all the way through I’m thinking it’s my little baby, it were awful knowing you had a baby… [T]hey booked me in and they went through everything, and the worst thing was filling out the papers. I was on the edge of tears all the time.
I wanted to try and not listen and get through it, and… he said “I love you, and have the baby please, don’t kill our baby, I’ll look after you and I’ll support you and we’ll get a house and all that,” and then I couldn’t do it.9
Susannah wanted an abortion because she wanted to finish her education before starting a family. Taking care of a baby, she felt, would prevent her from graduating.
She explained, “I was at school. I wanted to finish school. He was okay with that, but he wasn’t happy with the idea of me having an abortion.”10
Susannah’s boyfriend offered to take care of the baby while she was attending classes. This convinced her to have the baby. She said:
[I]t was just deciding whether or not we should go through with it… We decided that…once I’ve had the baby, he’ll stay at home with the baby full time while I’m at school, and then I would have the baby in the evening.11
In these two cases, the support of the baby’s father in a teen pregnancy made a life-saving difference.
These two studies show that teen fathers have an enormous influence on young girls’ abortion decisions. Their reaction can mean life or death for the babies they father.
The pro-life movement needs to reach out to young men and convince them that preborn babies’ lives are valuable and that taking responsibility for the children they father is the right thing to do. When teen fathers support their pregnant partners and encourage them to choose life, it can make a profound, life-saving difference.
1. Sarah Bekaert “I Want to Get My Education Straight: The Impact of Contemporary Cultural Expectations on Teenage Pregnancy Decision-Making” in Heather Jackson and Jessica Shaw, eds Abortion and Mothering: Research, Stories, and Artistic Expressions (Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press, 2021) 150-151
2. Sharon Tabberer, Christine Hall, Shirley Prendergast, and Andrew Webster Teenage Pregnancy and Choice: Abortion or Motherhood: Influences on the Decision (York, UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2000) 36
3. Ibid., 42
4. Sarah Bekaert, 150
6. Sharon Tabberer et al., 26
7. Ibid, 25-26
8. Ibid., 26
10. Sarah Bekaert, 150
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