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Teen Pregnancy

Many options besides motherhood

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June 9, 2008

I WAS struck, in reading "Gloucester stymied by rise in teen pregnancy" (Page A1, June 6) by the lack of consideration of the options open to these teenagers. In particular, it was appalling to describe a healthcare provider's delivering a positive pregnancy test as "telling a teenager she's going to be a mother." As with any woman, a positive pregnancy test does not necessarily mean she is going to be a mother. It means she is pregnant, and has options including abortion and adoption. Even providers who are not allowed or are unable to counsel on these sensitive topics must, at a minimum, refer a patient to other resources.

In addition, and especially in a geographic area where healthcare access is limited, any pregnancy test should be a chance for education. A negative test is an opportunity. Obviously the abstinence approach, if it's being employed, has already failed.

If school-based providers in this situation were permitted to provide full contraceptive education and initiation for those who do not desire pregnancy, and preconception counseling for those who believe they do, the dire outcomes for young women and their children that the article cites could be prevented.

Dr. CHERYL McSWEENEY
Jamaica Plain

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