How can this booklet/online guide help you?
If you are a pregnant youth (especially under the age of 18) reading this resource guide, you should know that there are adults who want to help you, not judge you. You do not have to go through your pregnancy decision-making process alone. There are resources to support you and the choices you determine to be best for you.
We have set up this booklet in four sections: Education Rights, Legal Rights, Safety Information, and Resources. Most sections provide common scenarios in which youth in Maryland have found themselves, the general questions that arise from these situations, and helpful answers and information.
The first section, Education Rights, contains information about a pregnant or parenting student’s right to an education. If you are (or someone you know is) pregnant and your school is trying to force you to leave, to block you from taking the classes you want to take, or to prevent you from participating in certain school activities, follow this link.
The second section, Legal Rights offers information about a youth’s rights regarding pregnancy decision-making, such as adoption, abortion, and parenting. It also describes the types of legal options for those facing parental abuse or abandonment. For information about available legal help and assistance, see this page.
The third section, Safety Information, provides information about the rights of abused youth under the age of 18, runaway laws, and emergency shelter. If you are (or someone you know is) pregnant and have experienced abuse and/or are thinking about leaving home, go here.
The fourth section has Resources for pregnant and parenting teenagers seeking information and services. The phone numbers, addresses, and websites of organizations that help pregnant youth – especially those under the age of 18 (often referred to as minors) – are found here.
Every pregnant individual has three options from which to choose:
- Carrying to term and parenting
- Carrying to term and adoption
It is essential that a pregnant youth knows legal rights exist in Maryland to make the best choice.
A parent or legal guardian cannot force a pregnant minor (someone under the age of 18) in their care to have an abortion, to continue a pregnancy, or to place a baby up for adoption. It is important that the pregnant minor makes her own decision, no matter what the choice may be, without pressure or coercion from others. A pregnant minor who feels that her parent or legal guardian may harm or abandon her for her pregnancy decision has the right to seek legal help.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Jane’s Due Process for providing us with the inspiration to develop this booklet, and to the thousands of pregnant minors who called the Jane’s Due Process hotline to answer the questions that many youth have.