The destigmatization of unplanned pregnancy begins with open dialogue and reproductive health literacy. On a campus with sexually active students it is possible that someone you know could be suffering in silence during an unplanned pregnancy. Contraception isn’t always used correctly, condoms break and pregnancy does not discriminate. The burden of suffering alone out of fear of judgment and lack of confidentiality only adds to the stress of a traumatic experience. The first step to alleviate the anxiety after a missed period or suspicious symptoms is to take a pregnancy test. Sense of assurance regardless of the result is crucial before making any decisions. The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center is a welcoming environment staffed by a group of extraordinary women. They provide free pregnancy tests in the first floor bathroom that can be picked up privately.
The shock that follows a positive pregnancy test should not be handled alone. Whether or not you choose to inform your sexual partner or family, having a close friend as a source of guidance and support is essential. Evaluating your options is a process that takes time, education and advice. Ultimately, it is your choice. Opting to carry a pregnancy to term, terminating a pregnancy and seeking adoption all involve their respective mental, emotional and physical challenges. However, on campus and in the Nashville area there are people who dedicate their lives to taking on the role of supporting women through unplanned pregnancy.
There are two methods of pregnancy termination. Surgical abortions are normally performed if the woman is past the first trimester or there is an abnormality in the pregnancy. This procedure is done in one day under local anesthetics and gentle suction is used to clear the uterus. A medical abortion is more common in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will prescribe you two pills. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to fall and is taken on the first day of the procedure. Misoprostol is normally taken on day two. This drug causes the uterus to contract and clear. Medical abortions can be long, arduous, and painful. Both types of procedures can be scheduled at Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee.
Recent legislation in Tennessee requires that all women seeking an abortion must have a counseling session 48 hours before any procedure can be done. Although pre and post abortion care are essential to help heal the mental and emotional trauma that can often occur as a result of an unplanned pregnancy, this law is considered demeaning by many. It promotes the idea that women who seek an abortion have not properly thought out their decision; however, any woman seeking an abortion has taken autonomy of her own body and made her choice long before walking through the clinic doors.
Listed below are organizations that provide counseling, psychological services, abortions or adoption guidance on campus and throughout Nashville for those seeking help from professionals.
Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center
Student Health Center
Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee
West End Women’s Health Clinic
Lentz Public Health Center
Association for Guidance, Aid, Placement and Empathy (AGAPE)