In a previous statement approved by the Executive Board of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and subsequently by the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists emphasized the magnitude of the problem of teenage pregnancy and the responsibilities of professionals involved in the care of these young people. Rapid changes in contemporary attitudes and in legislation have caused many physicians and their patients to consider abortion as an acceptable solution to an unwanted pregnancy in adolescent girls. These changes place a heavy responsibility on pediatricians and other physicians caring for adolescents, particularly in regard to their special need for compassionate and considerate understanding.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics prefers neither to sanction nor to forbid the use of abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in the teen-age girl, it does have the responsibility to insist that physicians considering this recourse provide for appropriate counseling and support for these adolescent girls and other involved persons, including the young fathers. In circumstances where the pediatrician is unable to provide adequate counseling support, he should act as the pivotal person in arranging for a social worker, pastor, or other experienced counselor to conduct this essential of care, both before and after the procedure.
Consistent with his accredited role in preventive medicine, the pediatrician must make certain that adequate information and sex counseling are available to his teenage patients. Contraceptive advice and prescription for the sexually active teenage girl should be accompanied by investigation and alteration of contributing issues wherever possible.