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Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be planned or unplanned, but when it happens, you’ll need to make an informed decision of what to do next and how best to look after your body and your baby. There will be important choices you’ll need to make after becoming pregnant.

This section will explain the choices you have when you’re pregnant.

 

I had sex with a girl, and now she’s pregnant, do I get a say in what happens to our baby?

We would suggest you discuss it with the girl if you want a say in what happens to the baby, but it is ultimately the girl’s decision what she does with the baby. You cannot force her to have the baby or force her to have an abortion.

I’m pregnant, what options do I have now?

If you’re pregnant, remember it is your decision whether you wish to keep your baby or not.

You can decide to:

  • have the baby and keep them, or
  • have an abortion, or
  • have the baby and offer the baby up for adoption.

Remember, it is your decision, but it is always good to discuss your options with your family, close friends and the baby’s father, as you may need their help and support throughout your pregnancy and also after having your baby if you choose to have the baby.

If you need support, you can get some support or counselling from a professional.

Can I get an abortion?

If you’re pregnant and you don’t want the baby, one of your options might be to get an abortion. This is putting an early stop to a pregnancy before the baby has fully developed. You can get an abortion no matter how old you are. If you’re pregnant, only you have the right to make a decision of whether or not to get an abortion, unless you are mentally unable to make the decision. The mother of the baby has the ultimate say in the decision, but it is recommended that you discuss it with the people around you before you make a decision.

If you want to talk to someone independent for some guidance, you can give Family Planning or other professionals a call.

When can I get an abortion?

In New Zealand, you can only get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy, and only if the doctor decides that there is a good reason for it. The earlier the abortion, the easier the procedure and the easier physically it will be on your body.

A good reason might be because having a baby would be bad for your physical or mental health, the baby would be severely handicapped, or the pregnancy happened because of incest (sex between two family members) or rape.

Doctors and other medical professionals have to keep all your information confidential. They can’t tell your parents or anyone else if you ask about or get an abortion.

Can I give my baby up for adoption?

Another option if you’re pregnant but don’t want to keep the baby is to offer the baby up for adoption. You could do this formally or informally. Only the baby’s mother can decide whether to give the baby up for adoption or not. No one else can make you, although sometimes MCOT will intervene if they think you or your baby is at risk.

You can only agree to offer your baby up for adoption after you have had adoption fully explained to you, and after the baby is 10 days old.

What is the difference between formal and informal adoptions?

When you keep being the legal parent of the child, but another family member or friend looks after them, this is an informal adoption. This is ‘whangai’ in Maori culture. Whangai is common within extended whanau.

In a formal adoption, you give all your rights and responsibilities as a parent of the child over to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents become the parents of the child. Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki (MCOT) arrange most adoptions.

Can I still contact my child after they have been adopted?

Most adoptions in New Zealand are open adoptions. This means that the child, the birth family and the adoptive family all have regular ongoing contact with each other. The birth and adoptive parents have to work out this contact together.

However, some families may request for a closed adoption meaning no identifying information will be shared with the child unless the child requests for it when they turn 18. These families can choose from an adoption pool where the birth mother is comfortable with a closed adoption. If it is a closed adoption, you will not be able to contact your baby after they have been adopted unless you come to an agreement with the adoptive parents.

I’m pregnant, can I decide to keep my child?

Yes, it’s your choice! However, if you decide to keep your child, you need to make sure you have the support you need to look after both yourself and the baby.

Plunket is the largest provider of free support services for children under five years old in New Zealand. Plunket offers parenting advice and support to all parents. You can chat with one of the nurses at Plunket by calling 0800 933 922 to better understand what support can be provided.

If you have to stop working because you have a baby, you might be able to get a government benefit to help you to support yourself and your family.

I need help during my pregnancy, where can I get help?

Being pregnant or getting an abortion can be a lot to deal with. It can help to talk to a supportive family member or a friend. If you can’t talk to your family or friends, or you need more support, there are agencies that can support you.

  • Pregnancy Counselling Services offer free support and advice 24/7 for anyone with a pregnancy or abortion related issue. You can call them on 0800 PREGNANT.
  • Family Planning is a good place to get confidential advice on sexual and reproductive health and is free for under 22-year-olds. Find your nearest clinic on their website.
  • Youthline can also give you advice and support for all sorts of things you might be dealing with. You can call them on 0800 376 633.

Can the government take my baby away?

Taking away someone’s child or baby is usually the last option for Ministry for Children – Oranga Tamariki and should only happen if they think it is essential for your baby’s safety and wellbeing. Usually, they will need a warrant to take your baby away unless they are in any immediate danger.

Generally, the baby will be placed with someone in the extended family or if there is no-one, they may be placed in foster care or a residential home and a case will be brought to the Family Court about who should care for the baby.

If your circumstances improve (you have support services and live in a suitable environment), you may apply to the Court to have your children back.

I have been discriminated because of my pregnancy, what can I do?

In New Zealand, the Human Rights Act 1993 is clear that you cannot be discriminated against because of your sex (gender), and this includes being pregnant. If you are discriminated against because of your pregnancy, this is likely illegal. For example, a business generally cannot choose to not serve you because you’re pregnant.

You may be able to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. If you would like some advice, contact YouthLaw or your local community law centre.

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