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Heather Corinna replies:
A friend of mine is severely frightened that she might be pregnant, and I thought I would do a little research to help her out.
She recently had unprotected sex, but stopped halfway through, and neither party came. She knows that the risk there is pre-cum, and says that is why she is so frightened. Her menstruation cycle is not regular, sometimes she is 25 and sometimes 29, sometimes any number in between, but as she is getting closer to the day when she should start, she is freaking out. She thinks she is imagining the cramps, because they are not as strong as they used to be or not as long-lasting.
If she is pregnant, she wants to have an abortion. Her fiance is in the military and being deployed, and she wants to finish school. She is also very broke; where can I find information for her on free abortion clinics, or how to get help paying for an abortion? Her parents are very Catholic, and just recently disowned her because they couldn't all get along, so she has no emotional or financial support there. Any advice?
If it has been less than 120 hours since her risk, the best thing -- least expensive, least invasive, easiest -- for her to do would be to obtain emergency contraception. EC can work up to 120 hours after the fact to prevent pregnancy. if she is over 18, she can get it over the counter at any pharmacy or through a sexual health clinic, and if she is under 18, she can get a prescription for it from a clinic, her gynecologist, her family doctor or even an emergency room.
If it has been later than that, and it has been ten to fourteen days (or more) since that risk, she should go ahead and take a pregnancy test now. There's just no reason to be freaking out when she doesn't have to be, and no reason to get too caught up in what she may have to do to terminate her pregnancy until she knows she did become pregnant, Pre-ejaculate alone may present a risk, but it is a low risk, so it is more likely she is NOT pregnant than it is that she is. Too, cramping is not a symptom of pregnancy, and it's pretty unusual to have cramps before a period begins, anyway.
Per the abortion information, there are not free abortion clinics in the states. There are, however, sources of funding available to help women who need funds for an abortion. She can access a list, with contact phone numbers for each state/fund here: http://www.nnaf.org/. Too, if she discovers she is pregnant and decides on abortion, she can pool money from various sources. Obviously, her fiance should be pitching in, but she can also ask friends: every little bit helps.
Since she grew up Catholic, if she does wind up pregnant and does decide on abortion, she may find this organization a comfort: http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/. It might also be a comfort for her to know that until the early 1800's, the Catholic church did NOT denouce early term abortion, and highly visible and respected Catholics like St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Pope Stephen the fifth accepted abortion as well, with Pope Stephen even stating that it was a far better thing to do than killing an existing child (via poverty, neglect, or anything else).
But it sounds like she's got one heck of a support in your friendship, which is fantastic. How great to have such a supportive, proactive friend in her corner.
Here's a couple extra pieces on abortion for you/her:
She'll also want to be sure that she is up to date with her STI (sexually transmitted infection) tests, since unprotected sex creates those risks as well, and they are, statistically, a greater risk than pregnancy, especially in this instance where there was not a full ejaculation.