If you’re deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy or carry to term, you might consider writing a list of pros and cons. It may help you evaluate all of your options, from abortion to adoption, so you can make a decision you feel good about.

Your individual “pros” and “cons” depend on your unique situation and values. The factors that matter a great deal to one person may not matter as much to someone else.

Pregnancy and parenting, for example, can be prohibitively expensive. Abortion costs significantly less. Whether you’re financially stable likely affects how much this matters to you, if at all.

That said, considering the benefits and drawbacks of abortion — concerning your own circumstances, of course — may be helpful.

Remember that you have the right to decide what to do with your body. No one else can decide for you.

It’s OK if you want an abortion, and it’s OK if you don’t. You deserve support no matter what you choose.

Some people choose abortion because they simply don’t want children. For others, the decision may be more complex.

A 2013 study of data drawn from the Turnaway Study looked at why people had abortions. Researchers identified several broad themes. The majority of participants reported multiple reasons, often across different themes.

Some of the most common are discussed below.


About 381 of the 954 participants (40%) cited a financial reason, ranging from general financial concerns to lack of employment or underemployment.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be expensive, particularly in the United States.

According to the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation, the total health costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth are $18,865 on average, with out-of-pocket payments averaging $2,854 if you’re enrolled in a large group health plan.

Abortion medication can cost up to $800 without insurance, according to Planned Parenthood. Surgical abortion can cost up to $800, on average, during the first trimester and up to $2,000 around the end of the second trimester.


Around 343 participants (36%) reported they chose abortion because the timing wasn’t right. They might have wanted a child eventually or under different circumstances, but they didn’t at that time.

Around 190 participants (20%) shared they felt like having a baby at that time would interfere with their academic or career goals, or general opportunities moving forward.

Relationship status

Around 295 participants (31%) gave a partner-related reason, including strained or unstable relationship dynamics, the desire to be married before having a child, and a lack of support or interest in parenthood.

Family size

Around 276 participants (29%) identified the need to focus on their existing children, with many noting that they already felt overextended.

More recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2020, the majority of people who had abortions already had children.


Around 181 participants (19%) described feeling emotionally or mentally unprepared or equipped to raise a child at that time.

Around 114 participants (12%) gave reasons related to their desire to give a child a better life than they could provide.


Around 114 participants (12%) mentioned health-related reasons, ranging from concern about their own health to the potential effects of substance use or prescribed medication use on the health of the pregnancy.

Pregnancy may exacerbate or cause physical health conditions, including high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

Pregnancy and childbirth can also trigger mental health conditions, including perinatal depression, gender dysphoria, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Abortion does not seem to trigger mental health conditions. Research has also shown that abortion is a safe, low risk procedure.

For many people, deciding not to have an abortion is just as complex. There are many reasons someone might not consider abortion an option or not have one after considering it.


Whether abortion is morally right is an ongoing, controversial debate — and one this article won’t cover.

But if you feel strongly that abortion is against your personal values or misaligned with your beliefs, you may decide against it.


Many people choose to parent when faced with an unintended pregnancy. Although parenting can be challenging — especially when you weren’t planning a pregnancy — it can also be a rewarding and positive experience.

You may find one of the alternatives more appealing. Adoption or legal guardianship may make sense if you can’t, or don’t want to, parent a child.


Some people may want to have an abortion but are ultimately unable to.

This may result from:

You may find it helpful to ask yourself:

You may not know how to answer all of these questions. But you can use what you do know about how you feel and what you might want as a starting point.

Sometimes, talking with a nonjudgmental person — such as a counselor, trusted friend, or family member — can help you figure out what to do.

Abortion access is often time-sensitive, so it’s important to act quickly.

Consider your rights and funding

Take a look at our state-by-state guide to abortion laws or review the Center for Reproductive Rights interactive map of abortion laws by state.

It’s important to know any legal restrictions on gestational age, which will affect when you can get an abortion. Consider whether you have to travel to a different state.

If you need financial assistance, this guide from the National Network of Abortion Funds may help.

Make an appointment

Find a clinic via:

If you’re interested in accessing a telemedicine abortion, which is when you self-manage a medication abortion at home, look at Aid Access or carafem.

When looking for reproductive support, avoid crisis pregnancy centers. They often share disinformation to dissuade people from abortion.

Prepare for your appointment

You may need to consider logistics, including:

  • organizing transport to and from a clinic
  • booking lodging if you need to stay close to the clinic
  • taking time off work or school
  • asking a loved one to be with you

Your telemedicine provider or clinic can provide more information about what to expect.

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional about prenatal care. They can also answer any questions you may have about keeping the pregnancy or exploring alternatives.

Legal guardianship

Legal guardianship is when the child is placed with another family but you retain some parental rights. You can choose your child’s legal guardian. It could be a family member or close friend.

The laws on legal guardianship vary from state to state. If you’re considering this option, you need to talk with an attorney specializing in legal guardianship.


Adoption can be:

  • Open: You’re allowed to keep in touch with the child’s adoptive family.
  • Closed: You have no contact with the child or their adoptive family.

If you decide to go with adoption, you can choose between:

  • Direct placement adoption: You choose the adoptive family yourself. You’ll need to use an adoption attorney for this. Usually, the adoptive family covers the legal fees.
  • Agency adoption: An adoption agency helps you find an adoptive family. Be sure to choose a licensed agency that helps you access medical care and counseling and does not pressure you into an adoption.

It’s important to have all the information you need to make an informed decision — one that is 100% yours and not influenced by pressure from others.

If you don’t want an abortion:

If you want an abortion:

If you need further support, contact:

Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.