Site Home   Gender and Unintended Pregnancy       Introduction to Gender and Health   The Gender Lens Tool

Unintended Pregnancy: An Introduction

The purpose of this module is to give consideration to pertinent gender, medical, and psychosocial issues related to unintended pregnancy and the options available to women in this country.


Unintended Pregnancy is a scenario that brings individuals to see healthcare providers in nearly all specialties.  In primary care and obstetrics, women may present seeking information about what options are available to them, seeking to initiate antenatal care, or seeking an abortion.  An unintended pregnancy may have an impact on ongoing medical therapy (e.g. antidepressant therapy (e.g. Paxil), immunomodulation therapy (e.g. Remicaide), or on an upcoming surgery which may or may not be safe to postpone. 


It is important not to make assumptions about unintended pregnancies, or even about women choosing to have an abortion:

  • Not all unintended pregnancies are unwelcome or unwanted.  Many, in fact, are “mistimed”, in that couples were planning to have children, but not right now.  Mistimed pregnancies are less likely than unwanted pregnancies to end in abortion, but are more likely than planned pregnancies to end in abortion or adoption. 

  •  Secondly, not all terminations are performed for reasons of unintended or unwelcome pregnancy.  Changes in family situation (breakups, divorce, and death), health, and prenatal diagnosis (the discovery of a lethal anomaly) can make the difference between an anticipated outcome and an unwanted one (i.e. an inability to cope with a potential child).