Auntie SparkNotes: My Friend Is Pregnant. What Should I Do?
Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I'm a junior at a private high school and I found out that one of my good friends is pregnant. So far I'm the only one who she's confided in aside from the baby's dad and she is kind of floundering right now. I'm doing my best to give her support and be a shoulder for her to lean on, but I'm wondering what else I can do? Our school has kind of a zero tolerance pregnancy policy which will result in the expulsion of both her and the baby's dad. She isn't far enough along to start showing yet but nine months from now is January first of our senior year. The baby's father has a jealous streak a la Abigail Williams from The Crucible and is well known for hulk-smashing any of her would be suitors (even though they aren't together) and I don't want him to take my support of her as a personal attack on him because that would just be more undue stress for her.
My friend and I aren't romantically involved and I think she confided in me because of our group of friends I'm the most responsible and level headed and least likely to react by shouting, "YOU'RE WHAT?" And then promptly spreading the news around the school. So how can I do what I can to make this less stressful to her? I don't want to become "too involved" because she didn't explicitly say, "Hey help me raise this baby," but I don't want to be all talk either and be like, "I support you, I believe in you, you go Glen Coco." So what would you recommend I do? I'm thrown for a loop and usually I'm the advice-giver of my little group.
Oof. That's some heavy stuff, Sparkler, and kudos to you for wanting to help, because there are two things your friend desperately needs right now. The first is a safe, nonjudgmental source of support.
The second is information, and soon.
Which is why you're going to discreetly give her a ride to the nearest Planned Parenthood, wait while she discusses her options with one of the counselors there, and once she's done, ask her if she wants to a) get a milkshake, or b) talk about what she's feeling, or c) both. (And please, make sure it's a Planned Parenthood—or another reputable medical facility—and not a Crisis Pregnancy Center; the latter are notorious for disseminating false and medically inaccurate information to patients.)
Because if your friend isn't due until January, she's still got a limited window of time in which all options remain open to her. And as the one person who she turned to for support in her moment of crisis, you're the one person who can steer her to investigate those options immediately, before time and legal restrictions end up forcing her down one particular path. That's what's important right now, and it's a hell of a lot more important than keeping up the appearance of non-involvement or soothing her ex-boyfriend's hulk-like rage—and while helping her in this way is a big responsibility, and one you didn't ask for, it is nevertheless a responsibility that's been placed squarely in your lap. Assuming you can handle the job of connecting your friend with the resources she needs, please do, and do it now.
And let's be really clear on this: when I talk about the need for quick action here, I am not talking about pushing her to terminate her pregnancy (which is more than I can say for your school's repulsive "zero tolerance" policy. What kind of sick administration forces a pregnant teenager to choose between her baby and her education?) The only desirable outcome in this situation is that your friend gets the information she needs to make whatever choice is in her best interests.
With that said, you should realize that she may end up deciding that it's in not in her best interests to have this baby—because it would derail her future, or because it would mean permanently involving her horrible, controlling exboyfriend in her life, or because she doesn't feel emotionally and physically capable of going through with a pregnancy, or any of the million other reasons why women choose to terminate. And whatever your personal feelings about abortion, whatever she chooses, I hope you'll make the choice to still be a kind, supportive, and caring friend to her. Because no matter what, she's going to need one.
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