For some women, an unplanned pregnancy can be a pleasant — if unexpected — surprise. But for many others, an unplanned pregnancy is a crisis, one they are desperate to find a solution for. In these cases, abortion might be the first thought to cross a woman’s mind.

But what if you know that abortion isn’t right for you? Or what if you are considering abortion but still want to make sure you understand all of your options before making your final decision?

If this describes your circumstances, you probably have questions about your alternatives to abortion — and you’re not alone. Below, find answers to the most common questions women have about their options other than abortion when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

  1. Are There Ways to Stop Pregnancy without Abortion?

When a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant or doesn’t want to have a baby, she will naturally want to understand all of her options for ending her pregnancy. Many women in these circumstances don’t want to be pregnant but also don’t want to have an abortion; they may wonder how to “lose” a baby without abortion.

However, unless a pregnancy naturally ends in miscarriage, there is no way to stop pregnancy without abortion. Abortion is the only unplanned pregnancy option that allows a woman to terminate a pregnancy before her baby is born.

For women who do not want to experience pregnancy and childbirth, this may be the determining factor in their decision to have an abortion. However, if a woman’s reasons for considering abortion have more to do with being socially, financially or emotionally unprepared to raise a child, there are some other alternatives to abortion to consider.

  1. Is Plan B Abortion?

Plan B (or the “morning-after pill”) is an emergency contraceptive that women can take within three days of having unprotected sex to help prevent unintended pregnancy. The drug, which is available over the counter, has caused some controversy, raising questions like “Is Plan B an abortion pill?”

The scientific answer is no; emergency contraceptive pills are designed to prevent pregnancy after sex, not cause an abortion. The pill works before pregnancy begins, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the lining of a woman’s uterus. Because these contraceptives will not work if a woman is already pregnant, Plan B is not an abortion pill; there is no such thing as a “morning-after pill abortion.”

For women who have recently had unprotected sex, this means that the morning-after pill may be an option to help them prevent an unplanned pregnancy. However, if you are already pregnant and wondering, “Is the morning-after pill abortion?” know that Plan B cannot be used as an alternative to abortion.

  1. What Are Some Alternatives to Abortion?

So, if Plan B is not an alternative to abortion, and there is no way to stop pregnancy without abortion, what abortion alternatives do you have?

In general, a woman has two alternatives to abortion: giving birth and parenting her child, or giving birth and placing her child for adoption.

Adoption as an Alternative to Abortion

First, it’s important to note that not everyone sees adoption as an alternative to abortion; instead, some argue that the alternative to abortion is giving birth, while adoption is an alternative to parenting the resulting child. Because these decisions can be made independently of each other and at two different times during the pregnancy, some may argue that adoption and abortion are not interchangeable pregnancy options.

However, plenty of other women who are not ready to parent do find themselves deciding between adoption and abortion. They may see adoption as an alternative to abortion because both options allow them to continue working toward their goals and delay parenting until they are ready. Some women cannot parent a child but do not want an abortion for any number of reasons; for these women, adoption is, in fact, an incredibly valuable abortion alternative.

So, if you are considering adoption as one of your alternative options to abortion, there are a couple of adoption arrangements you can consider:

  • Placing the baby with an adoptive family: Most women who choose adoption will work with an adoption professional to create an adoption plan and choose pre-screened adoptive parents to raise their baby. The vast majority of women who go this path choose to have an open adoption, maintaining contact with their child and the adoptive family throughout their lives. Prospective birth mothers are in charge of every step of the adoption process, so every woman can design the adoption plan that’s right for her and her baby. Additionally, adoption is a completely free abortion alternative; women making an adoption plan will not be responsible for any of the legal, medical or counseling costs incurred during the process and can get financial assistance for certain living expenses like rent, groceries, maternity clothes and more.
  • Placing the baby with a family member: In other adoption situations, a woman may choose to place her baby directly with a friend, family member or someone else she already knows. Some birth mothers feel more comfortable with these kinship adoption arrangements than placing their babies with an unknown adoptive family, though there are pros and cons to consider before moving forward with relative adoption.

Parenting as an Alternative to Abortion

For women who do not view adoption as an alternative for abortion, or for those interested in the alternatives to abortion besides adoption, there are a few different arrangements a woman can make to parent her child:

  • Parenting as a single mother: Many women considering abortion are not in a stable or committed relationship with their baby’s father; in fact, a desire to avoid single parenthood is one of the most commonly cited reasons why women have abortions. But, while single parenting can be difficult, it is becoming more widely accepted and respected in society, and there are resources available to help support single mothers if this is the option you choose.
  • Co-parenting with the baby’s father: Unplanned pregnancies can happen to anyone, including women who are married, in a relationship or generally on good terms with their baby’s father. If this describes your situation, you may be able to raise your child together. However, it’s important to remember that a new baby can cause financial and emotional strains on any relationship, and raising a child together will mean that you are forever connected to this man. Carefully consider whether you are ready to make this commitment and whether your baby’s father shares the same parenting philosophies, goals and dreams for your child as you do.
  • Arranging a temporary guardianship: You may be considering abortion because you aren’t quite ready to raise a baby — but you might feel that if you just had a bit more time, you would be. If you simply need some time to finish your degree, find a more stable living situation or make some other changes to your life before focusing your attention on parenting your baby, you may be able to arrange a temporary guardianship for him or her. This legal arrangement allows you to temporarily place your baby with a close friend or family member and resume parenting your child when you are ready, all without terminating your parental rights.

Exploring Your Alternative Pregnancy Options

There is a lot to consider when exploring your choices other than abortion. If you need help exploring your abortion alternatives, organizations like adoption agencies and pregnancy centers and clinics like Planned Parenthood should be able to provide you with additional, free information about adoption and parenting. You may also benefit from talking with a counselor who can provide the unbiased support and guidance you need to explore your options besides abortion.