Feature Archive

Unwanted Pregnancies

Abortion rates are down. Why? Family planning may be the key.

WebMD Feature

May 8, 2000 -- The year was 1986. It was before Planned Parenthood was the obvious first stop along the road to becoming sexually active, before high-school students were well versed in their contraceptive options -- at least in West Texas. College freshman Layla Carter, 18, (not her real name) started having sex during her first semester with a boy she'd met at a fraternity party. "We were both shy and inexperienced, and, even though it sounds crazy now, neither one of us brought up birth control," she recalls. "We only had sex about once a week, and he pulled out each time. I figured the chances of getting pregnant were pretty low." She figured wrong.

Three weeks after Layla was due for her period, the pregnancy test came back positive. "I was in a state of shock," she says. "I felt I had no choice but to have an abortion. I couldn't tell my parents, who would have made me have the baby, and the boy I was dating wasn't at all supportive."

With the help of a friend, Layla made an appointment at the only abortion clinic in town. "I look back on that experience and think, 'How could I have been so stupid to not use protection?' But then I try to remind myself that the culture back then was so different. AIDS was just beginning to be publicized, and safe sex wasn't a cool concept -- it was merely something embarrassing you hoped your parents wouldn't bring up at the dinner table."