WOW! This is a loaded question! Our first response would be to cover the financial cost of pregnancy, BUT financial cost is only a part of the “cost” of pregnancy; there are other costs that cannot be ignored when answering this question.
Let’s break it down into these areas:
The REAL cost of a teen pregnancy is not only in $$ amounts, it is in sacrifice! The government cannot foot the entire bill for what teen parents pay. Do you know that 8 out of 10 teen mothers will eventually go on welfare? These moms “pay” by handing over their own childhood/teen years. Most are no longer able to go out with their friends, but now have someone they have to put before themselves. They pay socially! Do you know that 8 out of 10 fathers do not marry the teen mother of their child? Do you know that 47% of these mothers believed they would have married the father of their child? There goes a lot of the support the teen mom was planning on.
Teen moms pay emotionally. The strain of taking care of a child is tremendous… especially when doing it alone. This is not just true for teen moms but for all parents in general – regardless of age! They may question decisions they make on health-care, discipline, childcare….you name it! They may analyze their child’s behaviors and development and it may feel like pressure is piling up, as many don’t feel qualified to be a good parent. The care of a child is an emotional roller coaster that even middle aged, married couples find challenging. Parenting is a full-time job and being a single parent; there is no rest for the weary. Can you imagine that position as a single, teen parent?
The physical expenses are both financial (we’ll get to this….) and exhaustion. Do you know that newborn babies eat every 2-3 hours regardless if their parent wants to sleep or not? Can you imagine waking that often and feeding and caring for baby for about an hour only to do it again in another hour or 2? Oh but wait, a teen would have school the next morning as well and, not to mention, most likely a part time job. Yep, exhausting!
Mentally, parenting is draining; many parents, teen or not, question everything they do and everything baby does. They often wonder if what they are feeling is normal. Is how the baby behaving normal? Are they doing the best they can for the baby? Many teen parents experience loneliness because teen friends do not understand what it is like to have a baby and juggle all that teens want to do.
Because of the stress of a new baby, most teen girls must put-off dreams of a college education. Nine out of 10 teen moms will never graduate from college even though it is something they had hoped to do! It is possible for a teen parent to go to college; it just rarely happens. Many times plans for an education never go off hold and 10 years later many find they are still working for minimum wage and trying to support their family on that salary.
As you can see, the financial cost of a teen pregnancy is the least of the cost! You better believe all of us pay (as a society) but no one pays more then the new parent and the child.
- The actual financial cost of the teen pregnancy depends upon insurance. If there is no insurance, the cost of pre-natal care and delivery falls on the pregnant woman, father of the child, parents of both of these, and then taxpayers. Whatever the new, teen parents are unable to pay, (like, how many teens have a couple “grand” saved up for a rainy day or unexpected pregnancy?) and if the teen parents are under 18 years of age their parents may be asked to help pay the bill, then after all that money is exhausted; tax payers will have to pick up the cost because most teens can’t pay. Who are tax payers? That is me, and you (if you have/get a job) and others who live and work in this country. In Indiana, you are likely to pay at least $10,000 in doctor and hospital bills, if all goes well, if not, $10,000 won’t touch it!
- If the taxpayers pay for the doctors and delivery, the cost just went up because most likely they will also be caring for the child through WIC (a government program that helps those who can’t afford baby formula, etc. through the tax-payer’s money) food stamps, and insurance for doctor visits and check-ups. In some cases the taxpayers, through our government, continue to pay for many children in court fees and through the foster care program as well. (The emotional, mental, social, ethical, and physical costs to these children are just way more than we can get into here; you can imagine the costs TO the child.)
- Medical expenses for the child do not end with the delivery of the baby. There are additional costs for follow-up visits for the new baby and mommy. Children should see a doctor annually for well-visits and immunizations (those shots required for a child to attend daycare or even school.) Add to that any sick visits and medications….it cost a lot and for a long time!
Think a young girl can skip all of this “cost” by privately having an abortion and picking up where she left off in life? Abortion has its own ring of emotional, social, mental, ethical/spiritual, and physical consequences. Do you know anyone that has had an abortion? If you do, how often do they talk about it? Most people don’t talk about it because it is painful – but most clinics will not tell you about all the different types of pain after abortion. Ethically, you should have the entire truth about your pregnancy when making this kind of heavy decision. See your local Clarity for a complete inventory of the “cost” of abortion. It is a heavy load to haul and not just temporarily, but for a lifetime.
Lastly, if parenting is not an option, and neither is abortion, what about adoption? There are families all over the United States wanting to adopt children but are on waiting lists. Often couples are sitting by their phones and checking their in-boxes on e-mail just waiting for word that they are going to be parents. They want a child to love and are willing to contribute financially to make that happen. In some types of adoptions, the birth-parent is able to choose the family she wants for her child. Imagine that; hand-picking a family! If the mother chooses an open-adoption, the family will allow the mother to keep in contact with the child, if she so desires, and watch the child grow. It truly is a selfless act of love to give a child up for adoption. The birth-mother is often able to give the child a life she could not have provided otherwise, as well as giving the waiting family the gift of a child.
Think about it! Teen Pregnancy costs a lot! Count the cost; we hope you will see YOU are worth waiting for!