Australia was reported to have the sixth largest rate of teenage pregnancy among developed nations in 2003. As far as teenage pregnancy is concerned, Australia fell behind the United States, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom during that year. As per the data collected in the year 2004, teenage pregnancy in Australia stood at the rate of 16.3 babies per 1000 women.
Five percent of Australian babies were reported to be born to teenage girls, while legally induced abortions were the second highest reason for girls between the ages of twelve and twenty to get admitted to hospitals. Studies also revealed that teenaged girls comprised the largest segment of society to use emergency contraception methods provided by family planning clinics. Around 45 percent of high school students who led actively sexual lives forgot to use condoms regularly.
A study was conducted to determine the differences in the rate of teenage pregnancy between an economically advanced zone such as Queensland and slum areas. Teenage pregnancy among the poor was about 67.8 births per 1000 women in comparison to the 21.7 babies per 1000 women in Queensland.
Studies have also pinpointed that the factors leading to teenage pregnancy in Australia are not different from those causing teenage pregnancy in the rest of the world. To mention a few, these factors are poor self-esteem, unfavorable domestic conditions, poor financial status, and family history of teen pregnancies.
Irrespective of the cause, a teenager girl who finds herself pregnant is faced with three alternatives.
The most common way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in Australia is abortion. Around half the number of unwanted pregnancies are terminated with the procedure of abortion, and around 16 percent of women who go in for an abortion are teenagers.
Laws concerning abortion differ according to the regions of Australia. In Queensland, for instance, abortion is perfectly legal if the pregnancy can cause harm to the woman’s mental and physical health. A woman can abort a 20-week fetus; but more than 90 percent of unwanted pregnancies are terminated by abortion when the fetus is only 12 weeks old.
Abortion, in case of a woman who has been pregnant for 12 weeks, may cost anywhere between 200 and 300 dollars. In some cases, government aid is available to poor women. The cost of abortion goes up after 12 weeks.
Put the Baby for Adoption
In a teenager is averse to the idea of abortion, she can have her baby and put it out for adoption. This option, however, is not popular among teenage girls and adult women alike.
Single parenthood is accepted now; moreover, the free availability of contraceptives and access to abortions has reduced not only teenage pregnancy but also the practise of putting out children for adoption. Only around 80 babies are adopted in Queensland every year.
Place the Baby in Foster Care
A teenage mother can also place a baby in the care of foster parents for a particular period of time till she is ready to take responsibility for the baby.
Being a single parent is now no longer a social taboo and the government offers plenty of aid to single parents, which is why more and more teenage mothers are opting to be single parents.
Counselling services are available to deal with problems related to teenage pregnancy in Australia.