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You Asked: Supporting My Girlfriend While She Waits for an Abortion

DearSugar --

I figure this is probably a girl's site, but I just needed to ask someone some questions. I'm 22, about to turn 23, and my girlfriend is 21. We found out that she is pregnant. She is pregnant by only about 3 weeks and she has decided that she wants an abortion. I told her that it was up to her because it is her body and that I would support her in any way I could, that I would be there for her whether she wanted to have an abortion or not.

But I am stricken for words; I really don't know what to say or how to comfort her, except for telling her that I will always be there and that I love her and that I wont leave her side. I am afraid for her. I love her too much to see her tear herself apart and feel bad or guilty.

I've told her that my mother had an abortion before I was born. Her mother told me once that she had had an abortion, too, but made me promise to never tell her daughter. I don't want to betray that trust, but I wonder if that would maybe make things easier for my girlfriend?

This might sound very selfish, but I need to say this. I don't want to lose my girlfriend. I love her with all of my mind, body and soul, and I am so afraid of losing her to this. I have come to realize that this is the girl I want to marry. I'm just so confused. I just want to be loving and helpful to her, and be there for everything. Hopefully you will give me some advice. Until that time comes I shall continue being her rock. Thank you very much. -- Heartsick Henry

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Heartsick Henry --

You sound like a good man, a loving boyfriend, and a true friend. I'm so sad for you both; this is a painful moment in your young lives, and I'm relieved your girlfriend has you in her life and that you show her such care.

I'm going to encourage you both to sit down immediately with your mothers, together. Tell them what's happened and seek their help, counsel and comfort. From what you've written, I get the feeling you both will find much relief if you turn to them. I hope you'll also tell your girlfriend exactly what you told me in your note. You might feel at a loss for words, but you expressed yourself very well and with much tenderness. It might help to remind her, again, that you support any decision she makes around this matter and that nothing, nothing, will change your good and strong feelings about her and the relationship.

I've pulled together a few resources for you both, and I hope our community here can be of help, too. For basic information about pregnancy, birth control, and abortions, I would go to planned parenthood's website. They also provide general counseling and support services over the phone.

If either of you want to discuss your fears, worries or doubts with professionals, you can call 1-800-376-4636. This Planned Parenthood program is called ACCESS, and someone there will listen and answer questions as you make your decision. Should your girlfriend decide an abortion is best for her right now, but finds she has questions or needs some additional support afterward, she can call 1-800-376-4636. That program is called EXHALE, and their help is also available to either of you after an abortion.

I might also visit the online website and community; it provides a wide range of information, resources and chat rooms. It's politically neutral and respectful, and I've linked here to the "Do's" and "Don'ts" page for support people. Perhaps that will be of some use to you now, Heartsick Henry.

Be gentle with each other, and kind. Please do discuss birth control before you become intimate again, and promise each other you'll show your love and respect by being safe every time. Courage and comfort to you both.


Join The Conversation
Miss-K-Smith Miss-K-Smith 10 years
just be there for her thats all you have to do :) let her talk about how scared she might be and everything she is feeling, just do your best to let her know that you care
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
I think you should tell your girlfriend everything you just said in your letter. I'm getting the feeling if you did..she would keep the baby. Please, tell her how you feel. I also really like DearSugar's advice. You sound like a very loving and caring young man. I wish you both the best of luck.
Brittany14706805 Brittany14706805 10 years
you sound very caring and supportive thats a good thing. But i for one dont agree with abortion i dont think its right to kill off an innocent unborn child. You both thought u were responsible enough to have sex but obviously u didnt take into consideration the consequences of it... There are to many abortions and kids that are given up from teens having kids to young who cant take care of them properly. This is something that bugs me greatly. If u have a kid and then want an abortion you need to think twice about having sex then if you cant be responsible. I myself am 20 and ive been with the same guy for 5yrs. Im careful though to stay protected to prevent this from happening. Though if it did happen i would have the baby and love it since i am the one who made it from my own decisions to have sex knowing that it could happen. Ppl need to grow up and start taking more responsibility for their actions. If u cant handle it you shouldnt be doing it.
kc1985 kc1985 10 years
to heartsick henry the choice ultimately is your girlfriend's to make. in saying this i don't think you should be swayed by people who are either anti or pro-abortion. coming from a strict catholic family with my own morals, i believe the choice should be made with each case in mind. at 3 weeks, the "baby" is not technically a baby, nor a foetus scientifically at all, but an embryo, basically so far a bunch of cells that have divided and grown. but the obvious scientific approach gets in the way of the emotional consequences of pregnancy. being 21 myself, i can understand the level of maturity needed, as well as security (be it financial or emotional) in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy. i have adopted cousins, as well as a family history of pcos and endometriosis, which have been passed on to me, so i can see both sides of the adoption/termination/continuation of pregnancy debate. however, and this a big however... i think you are in the wrong place, you don't need advice, i think you and your girlfriend should consider professional counceling. in australia it is required by law to talk to a professional before and after a termination. i think this could well be much more beneficial to yours and your girlfriends well-being and relationship than any opinion we can give on this site.
Casimira Casimira 10 years
I'm curious about something here: why is she waiting? If this is the decision she has made, shouldn't she be doing it? But if this is not the decision she has made, I would join in and encourage you to consider adoption. Adoption can be a way to resolve the situation that makes you feel good about the outcome. I understand that some women feel that they had no other choice but to have an abortion, but rarely do I hear a woman who had an abortion finish her story by saying, "And I'm so glad/happy I did." Also, I feel that if a woman has invited you into her body, she has invited you into the decision. She ultimately does not have to do what you want if your choices differ, but you do have a voice and if you don't want her to have the abortion you should speak up now. Finally, I think that if you're going to seek counseling about this issue, it's always best to consult with a group that does not profit from performing abortions. There's an inherent conflict of interest there despite the best intentions of the men and women that work there. I am pretty passionately pro-life (not anti-abortion, pro-life...there is a difference!) but I live with the fact that first trimester abortion is part of American life. I won't condemn a woman who chooses abortion, but I do encourage her to thoroughly consider all her options before she picks any of them. Too many people say, "this isn't the time," before they stop to consider that this might or might not be the time, it's just not how they had it laid out in their minds.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 10 years
I live in Washington so yes, I would have been allowed my BF in the room, unfortunately they didn't ask or I didn't hear that since I was upset. I remember having a counseling session right before where they make sure you really want to do it though. That was 100% private.
calibabi calibabi 10 years
kiddylnd and cubadog...i do appreciate both your viewpoints on this matter. i just needed help to see a different side of things since it is such a sensitive issue in my own life. thank you!
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Calibabi I am sorry you have not been successful in your quest for a child but adoption is not always in option. It is one of those things that is easier said then done just like an abortion it is an individual choice and unfortunately your bias does come through. I am very passionate about a woman's right to choose!
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Not all states allow you to have someone in the room with you the laws vary. In Washington and Oregon they ask the patient if they would like to have their BF or whomever with them in the room. For privacy reasons they ask the patient away from who ever is there with them.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 10 years
Calibabi - I'm sorry that you have not yet been successful in your ability to conceive. For me the decision to go full term and adopt out my child was due to many factors. I myself am adopted so I do know the value it brings to families. We were just not prepared to have another family raise our child and live not knowing if they survived life okay. Also, it would have adversely impacted my ability to work so I would have lost my job and income during the pregnancy. For us, in our situation it was the right choice. It sounds like it's been a long road for you, and I hope that soon you will have a child to hold.
kiddylnd kiddylnd 10 years
Do what you have already said you would do - be there for her. When my BF and I went through this, I was scared. It was the right choice for us at the time, but I was sad none the less. When it was actually happening I was alone. I had no idea that he would have been in the room with me. I didn't ask, and he didn't offer. We both thought since the other didn't say anything that we didn't need each other. It was a very emotional event and I burst into tears when it was over. This is a common reaction. The nurses and staff offered to get my BF and he came running down the hallway. We just held each other. Together we sat in the room for almost an hour crying together. It was so comforting to have him just BE THERE for me. So the best thing is just to be there for her. It's true - sometimes we don't need words, just kind and loving gestures. It sounds like you will do just fine.
calibabi calibabi 10 years
i hope this doesn't come across as judgemental, and if it does, i completely apologize. i am just wondering why abortion was chosen instead of giving the child up for adoption? i understand that a woman has a right to choose...but i am also a little biased since my husband and i have been trying to have children for 5 years and have thus far been unsuccessful. when i hear stories like this it makes my heart break because it is possible that the unborn child might have been MY child when we end up going through the adoption process. i have wanted to be pregnant for so long, that i have a hard time understanding those who would rather have an abortion than give their baby to a couple who is so willing to raise their child in a happy, loving family. so i'm hoping that you can help me to understand why an abortion is the choice over adoption in so many situations.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I also agree that you should NOT give up the secret her mother told you in confidence. If she wishes to speak to her mother about it she will. I am a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood and once a week my job is to provide support to woman that are going through an abortion. I am there to let them talk about whatever they want and to provide support as they go through the procedure trust me if she wants to open up and talk about it she will. Do not force the issue. I think for a lot of people there is a fear of what takes place during an abortion and that it is cold and callous. The exact opposite is true. Everyone will be there to suppor both of you and answer any questions. The most important thing you can do is to take her and be there when she is ready to go home. Do not be upset if she would prefer that you are not there through the whole procedure it is more important that you be supportive of every decision she makes.
SaRaH-22 SaRaH-22 10 years
i agree with Jinx i dont think that anything needs to be said, everything that could be said has probably already been said...Just hold her and cuddle, sometimes thats the best thing to fix anything! Good Luck and Kudos to you for being such a great guy!
Jinx Jinx 10 years
If you promised her Mother not to tell, you shouldn't. Sometimes, words aren't necessary. ------------------------------------------------------ "We're forced to bed, But we're free to dream" Gord Downie
smith3 smith3 10 years
You sound like a tremendously thoughtful and caring man, and I'm sure your girlfriend will appreciate all of your support and care for her over the months and years to come. I do agree with roguesugar that you should also find support for yourself in this time of pain and confusion, though I don't think we have any right to judge your relationship or your maturity, and you don't sound at all immature or irresponsible to me. DearSugar's advice is brilliant - apart from that, all you can do is keep being there for your girlfriend, keep holding her close, letting her talk if and when she feels ready, and accepting that this will take a long time to heal. The question of telling her about her own mother's abortion is a very difficult one, but at the end of the day I don't think it's yours to share. Perhaps you could gently encourage her mother to tell her, but that might depend how her mother feels about her own experiences and how likely she would be to support her daughter in making the same decision. This is a difficult decision and a difficult time for anybody, and I hope the two of you can grow closer through sharing and coming through such a painful experience.
DearSugar DearSugar 10 years
I suggested talking with the mothers mentioned in this note because each one has had an abortion, tho the girlfriend only knows this fact about her boyfriend's mother. It's my opinion other women who have had abortions can offer real information -- not necessarily advice -- that might help ground this young woman about what's up ahead. I didn't suggest it so they could seek permission or approval. My hope was that their mothers might help diminish the shame, fear and secrecy for these two young people, and lift some of the burden. He will know best, or as best he can, whether or not this feels wise.
RogueSugar RogueSugar 10 years
First of all, whether or not any woman has an abortion will always be up to them. They may say you have an input, but if they ever decide to change their mind, one way or the other, there is nothing you can do about it. So yeah, all you *can* do is let her know you're there for her if she wants to talk about it. Second, if she's going to tear herself up about it, and feel guilty, well, that can be expected. She's only 21. You're 22. This is heady stuff for any girl, woman, or couple, but at 21 and 22? You sound like a guy who wants to "be there for everything" for her, fine. Swell. But, this is also about you too. You never stated that she said she would be there for you. Well? The whole chivalrous, looking out for the damsel in distress thing is honorable, but make sure you save some of that energy and time for yourself and please don't ignore how this is also affecting you - in respects to YOU, not just her. Don't just focus on how strong you have to be for her. After all, this would be your child too, and yes, women bear the child, but you count too...until like I said, in the end - she's can choose to do what she wants to anyway whether you agree with it or not. So make sure you get what you need emotionally too. If she was "mature" enough to have sex (premarital notwithstanding) then give her some credit to be able to be strong enough to work things out on her own but without shutting you out. Maybe she's not mature enough to do that, and maybe you're not mature enough to be her everything like you want. Lesson learning in progress... Here's the thing: you two weren't mature enough to "double up" to prevent a pregnancy so who knows if you can accept this situation for what it is and deal with it like adults. People can post and talk about "mistakes" all they want but you'd be surprised how many guys/gals don't know there's more to putting on a condom than just slipping it on. I honestly don't mean to be flippant, but talk to couples who truly didn't want to get pregnant until they were ready. They didn't. They don't. Other people just make excuses. It's one thing if an unplanned pregnancy happens when you're married, but you two youngsters, well...maybe you'll protect yourselves better next time - with whomever - maybe you won't. I also disagree with DS about sitting down with the parents. This is your personal, private, business. I presume that you didn't tell them when you had sex, where you had sex, how you had them that info is no more their business than you two deciding what to do. It's great to selectively decide when we want to play adults: If you need them to hold your hands through this, then perhaps you two aren't as mature as you think you are, or were, or need to be. I don't know. I wouldn't turn this into some group therapy session. I don't know your mothers, but if you guys end up getting married, you're setting the precedent to let them have a say on every other aspect of your life. I mean, if you're going to sit around and hold hands like DS suggests, why *wouldn't* you tell them about everything else in the future? Then the day you decide to not tell them something, they'll resent it. That won't be a nice scene. However, I could be way off base - I don't know you or your families at all and if you guys are "close" like that, fine. Forget what I just said. BTW, where are the fathers? Why doesn't DS recommend including the men in on this pow-wow? Women don't corner the market on the hurt and the loss felt by losing a child. You didn't mention a father, not once. You don't have man to talk to? If you want to share so much with the family, why don't you ask your father how he felt and how he dealt with it when your mother had hers. Better yet, here's a maturity check for ya: go ask her dad how he felt when her mother had one. Still feel like sharing? You also need to sit back during your Me Time and self-evaluate how much experience you've acquired in your life that justifiably leads you to believe that without a doubt at age 22 she is the girl you want to marry. She's the one? Compared to who and how many? You've got a lot wrapped up in this girl, who is only 21 with a lot of life experiences yet to live by the both of you. You didn't mention if you guys are in school, if you have jobs...what if she changes her mind and decides to have the baby? Are you prepared/equipped to pay rent, buy food, pay utilities, pay for childcare if she chooses to work? Do you have a degree yet? Do you have career choice, a career plan (does she?), or will you be working a job the rest of your life because you knocked up your 21 year-old girlfriend at age 22? Will you want her to be the primary care giver? Would she *want* to be the primary child care giver? If you or her is offered a great career opportunity, will you be able to move far away from your mommies? Do you have a clear understanding of your spiritual beliefs and how your children will be raised accordingly? That's the very short list... See, mature adults discuss these things before they get married, and they are vigilant in their birth control practices before they decide to raise a family. Yeah, I know. "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love." Sit back and start thinking, and take care of yourself too because if you're not sound you'll be absolutley no good to her.
katie225 katie225 10 years
if you are at a loss for words, then you don't have to talk. just show your devotion to her in other ways. make her dinner, tuck her in to bed at night, take a shower with her, etc. you're a great guy for being there for her and supporting her decision.
nycgirl nycgirl 10 years
You are a great guy! You're both very young, and while I agree talking to the mothers might ultimately be a good thing, that will only delay the process (if it goes through-- catch pregnancy early and you have more options on methods of abortion) and potentially make your girlfriend feel even worse if she does decide to go through with it. Bottom line: with your commitment and understanding, I don't think you are at risk of losing your girlfriend. She's so lucky to have someone like you!
Marci Marci 10 years
What a special boyfriend you are. Dear Sugar has given you really good help and advice here. I wish you both all the best. I'll be thinking of you during this really rough time.
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
You sound like an amazing boyfriend and the support you are offering your girlfriend during this difficult time is really crutially important to her wellbeing. I agree with DearSugar that you and your girlfriend should talk to your mothers about the situation. Not only can they offer support, but having gone through it themselves they can also offer guidance. Planned parenthood is also a great source of info. I know you've said that at this point your girlfriend has decided an abortion is her best option, but maybe with the support of you and your parents she will consider other options. There are lots of people (myself included) who can't have biological children and I'm sure you could find someone who would love to adopt a healthy baby. She also might realize that with all of the support from her loved ones she could raise the baby with you. This is all a lot for you to think about so I think you need help and support from your loved ones right now. If she decides to go through with the abortion all you can do is support her physical and emotional health and reassure her that when the time is right you two will start a family together.
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