‘Micaela Alexander – Being a parent involves doing what’s right for your child first and foremost, whether they are physically “here” yet or not. So many children are out here now not being cared for because their parents only thought of themselves and what they wanted instead of what is best for a baby.’ – TRP fan page 5/2/11
The onset of parenthood is a debatable issue. One could argue that it starts when two people have made the decision to start a family. It could also be argued that it starts at conception. There is further argument that if a pregnancy is unplanned, it starts when the decision to continue to the pregnancy is made. An alternative argument is, it’s starts when the child arrives.
Wherever it starts, it’s fair to say that the issue of considering termination is the act of a parent. ‘The best interests…’ a very poignant phrase; when considering ‘the best interests’ regarding whether or not to bring a child into this world, there are many things and people to take into consideration. The person making that decision, is the one who will be ultimately responsible for the outcome. That responsibility is one that will be lived with for the remainder of their life.
So who IS responsible for making that decision? – When looking at adolescent pregnancy we first have to understand that the age range of adolescence is quite wide. Therefore, it might be reasonably accepted if we were talking about a 12yr old but not so much a 17yr old. Also when looking at cognitive disability we have to take into consideration how much the adolescent really understands about the situation they are in. It could be argued that a child with Downs Syndrome doesn’t have the cognitive ability to make a decision and that they haven’t fully comprehended what sex is or what the consequences of it are.
The parents of a child who is pregnant, is responsible for the child and if they choose to support the child to continue with the pregnancy, they are also responsible for the ‘grandchild’ until the mother is legally responsible for herself. Here the best interests are of the child that is pregnant, the grandparents and the unborn child. In a case where the pregnant child is older and cognitively competent, the best interests still go first, with the mother. It is important that her physical health, emotional health and intellectual health are taken into account as she is the one that is going to live with the consequences for the rest of her life.
When a woman considers termination, rarely is it just herself to think of. Her spiritual beliefs, the views of the father, the culture she has been brought up in, any existing children, the grandparents and all the people who are involved in your well being may need to be considered. Ultimately, she has to make the decision, but the level of support she might need and receive will depend quite heavily on whether she has considered the thoughts of the people who have ‘been there’ for her up to that point. Regardless of her decision, she will need support .
Termination is hard on both women and men. A man who is happy about being a father and it is taken away from him will hold that memory, if he has been part of the decision process and agrees, it may be easier for him to live with than if he was given no opportunity to put his views forward. A woman will never forget that the pregnancy was there and many have reported that long after carrying on with their life and even having a family they have wondered ‘what if’ and there are a minority who will count that terminated pregnancies in with the number of children they have, especially if they develop a religious or spiritual life over the years.
If the decision to terminate has been taken after consultation with others, including children, others may feel a sense of loss. Chances are only those that have a vested interest in you, parents, grandparents, siblings will carry that loss alongside you. Others are more likely to be able to put it to the back of their minds and the effect on them will be limited.
In considering whether to disclose a past termination in a new relationship it is would be prudent to understand what is important to the new partner and proceed on that level. If total disclosure is important and there is to be mutual respect and honesty then this information may well have to be share for the good of the relationship. The termination itself may not cause concern, but not disclosing it may raise concerns about honesty and affect trust.