Right to Choose... to Have the Baby

One of the more thought-provoking op-ed pieces I have read in some time was today's "Sex and the Teenage Girl" written by Caitlin Flanagan. The piece starts with mention of Juno, a film Flanagan refers to as a "fairy tale" (this post isn't about Juno, I promise) because of it's happily ever after ending (I saw the ending as "life goes on" rather than "happily ever after" but that's just me) before going into a bit about Jamie Lynn Spears and the harsh reality of teen pregnancy-- Two issues I have been meaning to address, and in Jamie Lynn Spears' case, speak up in her defense.

Even the much-discussed pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears reveals the rudely unfair toll that a few minutes of pleasure can exact on a girl. The very fact that the gossip magazines are still debating the identity of the father proves again that the burden of sex is the woman’s to bear. He has a chance to maintain his privacy, but if she becomes pregnant by mistake, soon all the world will know.

How soon the world forgets the virgin image Jamie Lynn's sister once had. Britney's virginity was a large part of what made her a star. She was the "good girl" in the Catholic School Girl costume in Baby One More Time. Her virginity was as fake as her sister's sexual activity is obvious. And there's something almost... (dare I say)... biblical about that.

Britney's "virginity" was nothing but a sales-pitch to young girls. A fallacy used to manipulate little girls into following in her footsteps and we all know where that lead. If Britney's virgin image made her a role model then what harm can her sister's pregnancy really do?

I started having sex in High School, as did the majority of my friends. Some started earlier. Some waited until college. Was I "ready" to have sex? Yes. It wasn't something I stumbled into blindly. I had a boyfriend who I totally dug and he dug me. I wasn't irresponsible or erratic. (Not at first.) I took my sexuality very seriously. I had friends in high school who did get pregnant. Two of whom had babies. Others who did not. All young women exercising their choice. Choices made with their boyfriends. With their parents. The "best" choice for each of them at the time.

Since starting this blog, I have been asked and several times assumed to be "pro-life" because I chose not to have an abortion. Strange, right? Or maybe not. ... Because what young woman in her right mind would actually have the baby?

For the record, just because a woman chooses not to have an abortion doesn't mean she doesn't support a woman's right to have one.

A couple years ago I went with a friend to see Ben Folds play at The Wiltern. I had just given birth to Archer and my friend had recently terminated a very unwanted pregnancy. That night Ben Folds performed "Brick" a poignant song about his experience taking his girlfriend to get an abortion. I'm feeling more alone than I ever have before. The song was played back to back with a song Folds wrote about his son called "Still Fighting It". And I can tell you about today/ And how I picked you up and everything changed.

My friend and I sat side by side in the theater, sobbing for two completely different reasons, and then upon realizing the other one was crying, we proceeded to sob even more heavily for each other. It was one of the most poignant moments of sisterhood I have ever experienced and one I will never forget. Two friends side by side, unplanned pregnancies and the outcomes of choice. We were both glad we made the decisions we did, of course, but that didn't change the monumental difficulty of having to make such choices, the changes in our lives, in ourselves.

Any woman who has been pregnant without planning to be knows what I'm talking about. I've written about it ad nauseam. Mainly because every day another woman or girl finds my blog by searching "unplanned pregnancy" or "i'm pregnant. what do i do" or the most heartbreaking, "thirteen years old. I'm pregnant. Help".... talk about a six-word memoir.

I want to open my arms to every one of them. I want them to know that what they are going through is complicated and personal and life-changing no matter the decision. I want them to know that they're not alone. Not even close.

Many sixteen-year old girls are sexually active. And maybe, there's a pregnant girl out there right now or thousands feeling less alone seeing someone as exposed as Jamie Lynn pregnant. And there's something to be said for that, I think. It can be a relief to know there are people out there wrestling with the same choices.

Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. This stark fact is one reason girls used to be so carefully guarded and protected — in a system that at once limited their horizons and safeguarded them from devastating consequences.

Could it be that "devastating consequences" aren't always so devastating? There are happy endings contrary to what Caitlin Flanagan had to say.

I didn't make a mistake having my baby. And my friend didn't make a mistake not having hers. The right choice for me may not be the right choice for you and the right choice for you may not be the right choice for me and the right choice for Jamie Lynn Spears may be the wrong choice for you and your family but come on, now. Let's all have some respect for people's procreational choices.

No, I wasn't sixteen when I chose to be a mother but what if I was? Let us not forget that "a woman's right to choose" also means a woman's right to choose to be a mother.

It is of utmost importance for us as a society to hold up our fellow women and girls as they deal with such difficult choices. We have great potential as women to offer support, to tell our stories, to relate. To hold each other's hands across the armrest of the concert hall and not let go.

GGC

62 comments:

Anonymous | 1:42 AM

I understand that in some situations it makes sense to choose not to have a baby. However, as someone who has tried to get pregnant for 2 years and will probably have to embark on the road of IVF - I wish I had gotten pregnant accidentally much earlier than when I had my first planned baby... Now at 31 I wish I had gotten pregnant at 24 when I got married and started having sex for the first time... I personally think 16 year olds should not be having sex, but as I said, that's a personal opinion.

autobiographyofmyfeet | 5:31 AM

I just wanted to say - this is beautifully written and obviously well thought-out. It was wonderful to read. I, like you, had friends in high-school who did have to make a choice, and different ones chose differently, and each person's choice was both difficult and right for each person. Thank you for giving a voice to "choice"

Anonymous | 5:36 AM

As someone who has been on both sides of the line, I totally agree with you. I was pregnant at 15, and chose to have an abortion. That was absolutely the right decision for me. I've never, ever regretted that decision. Now, at 29, I find myself recently divorced, with a toddler, and pregnant again. Luckily, I'm financially stable and I know, without any doubts, that keeping this baby is the right decision. My partner and I are scared shitless and elated at the same time, just like any 14, 18, 21, or almost-30 year old who finds themselves pregnant would be.

I chose to have this baby not because I'm anti-abortion (obviously), but because it's the right decision for me at the time, just like abortion was the right choice when I made it.

The Mommy of Mommy-hood 101 | 5:53 AM

Well said. I wish more people in this world could show the simple compassion you so easily put down in words here today.

Thank you.

Beckie | 6:35 AM

Beautifully written like always. I read you every day (well I check every day - haha), but never comment.

I was 15 when I started having sex. I was 17 when I had an abortion. I was 19 when I had my son. Most days I don't regret the abortion. I was in an unfortunate relationship at the time (I was 17, he was 39 and controlling and abusive - how cliche right?). But some days I look at my son, and it's been tough at times sure, but we've gotten through it all, so maybe I could have made it if I tried??? He'll be 9 in May and he is so funny and smart and compassionate and honestly I feel special to get to be his mom. In my heart I know I did the right thing both times.

The answers to everything seem clear when you are on the outside looking in, but I firmly believe each woman has a right to do what she feels is best for her situation, her family, her body.

Scarlett | 6:54 AM

i love you.

Don Mills Diva | 6:57 AM

This was an incredible post and it needed to be said: sometimes abortion is the right decision for some women, sometimes it isn't but we need to show compassion for other women no matter what choice they make. Thanks for expressing this so beautifully.

Wendy | 7:24 AM

Compassion and support is all well and good, but where was it for these girls before they got pregnant. Where was Jamie Lynn Spears' mother when she was living (as rumor has it) with a boyfriend at the age of 16 yrs old? Or better yet, where was her mother when she was sleeping with one of the producers of her TV show (as rumor has it)? And the fact that the men in this situation are not stepping forward, just proves that a 16 yr old can't make the best choices.

I blame her mother for Jamie Lynn and Britney. Maybe if her mother was there as a mother and not business manager these girls would have a better shot at life and 2 little boys wouldn't be struggle with a very sick mother.

As far as choices, that is nice, but I have yet to meet a qualified 16 yr old to have enough life experience to make such choices. I remember being 16 yrs old. I would not say I was in a position to make the best choices, yet we have these girls making life alternating decisions.

I will admit to something very few people know about me, I had an abortion at 24 years old. It still haunts me, today. Was I ready to have that baby, hell no. I am glad some women can move on from it, but you don't you can until you do it and then it is too late for all parties involved. I am not evening saying I would do things differently, but I am happy I don't have to make that choice, anymore.

These are just my opinions and my experiences.

merseydotes | 7:27 AM

There are happy endings. There are also stories like that of Banita Jacks.

I also think it's important to make a distinction between girls and women. At 16, I think I was pretty mature, having been the oldest kid of an alcoholic parent. I had a job, had my drivers license, got good grades, had friends, etc. Yet, I was still a girl. I think it's apples and oranges to compare teenagers having unexpected babies with women - even young women - having unexpected babies. During those extra years, there's just so much growing up that happens.

LD | 8:24 AM

I read the article as well and thought much the same things you did, but your post brings a personal side to the issue that neither the writer nor myself could ever bring. It's a beautiful post, articulate and emotional, and it gets to the heart of the false dichotomy of the pro-/anti- debate-- that it's the woman's choice, the woman's situation, the woman's life. Each individual, and each deserving of respect and privacy.
Bravo.

superblondgirl | 8:39 AM

I love this post - I, too, chose to have a child at a time when it was a difficult choice. I'm also pro-choice. I think so many people get tangled up, thinking that if you consider abortion an option than you are pro-abortion - they forget that it's about the choice, it's about being able to decide what to do, not about abortion at all.

Laura | 9:27 AM

What a wonderfully powerful statement on your beliefs and I applaud you. And you have put words to many of my beliefs that I struggled to articulate.

Thanks for sharing.

Corey | 10:04 AM

This is beautifully written.

KaritaG | 10:57 AM

I just have to say it again...so beautifully written. I have always had a hard time identifying with the pro-choice movement because it tends to be so pro-abortion, which I'm not. I wish no one ever was in a situation where they had to make that choice...but I strongly believe they should be allowed to, if they want. It's their life, not mine, right? I think I am going to send this link to all of my gf's that give me a hard time about being "pro-choice." Thanks.

Ambitious Blonde | 11:38 AM

That? Was awesome. Great job, Rebecca. :)

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:24 PM

I think teenagers are more aware of their bodies and their situations than we give them credit for. I've spent a lot of time working with/for teenagers and have always been a little peeved by the attitude that they "are too young to REALLY know"... Sure. We change A LOT in those formative years. We grow up but that doesn't mean teenagers don't deserve the same kind of empathy as their superiors. Especially when it comes to their reproductive rights.

Teenagers have sex. And it isn't just because of a sexualized media... We are biologically engineered to be sexual creatures as teenagers. A point that so many adults seem to forget. Fear-mongering to keep our daughters chaste and/or blaming parents for their daughter's "accidents" does nothing but perpetuate the unjust untruth that sexuality (especially sexuality as it relates to young women) is something to be ashamed of in our country.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:27 PM

And thank you, as always, to all who have commented thus far for your insight, opinions and commentary. You ladies rock my socks.

Mackenzies Momma | 12:53 PM

As a young woman who got pregnant and choose NOT to have an abortion I am glad to see someone who can so skillfully present this topic. I was 16 when I met the father of my daughter and was at the time considered 'grown up' by a lot of the adults around me. I had been through a lot in my life and made a lot of choices that a 'normal' 16 year old isn't likely to do. My ex, lived with me for a while(and my parents) yet we still had plenty of chances to do things they still don't know about. I was so desperate for attention at the time that I didn't see him for what he really was a controlling, jealous jerk.

Shortly after we started dating I made the choice to start having sex with him because at the time I thought that was 'what you do', I mean LOOK at hollywood and how they portray relationships- girl meets boy, girl likes boy, they fall in 'love' and sleep together and live happily ever after. If only the Real world were that easy.

I had just graduated high school when I found out I was pregnant, I had to put off my freshman year of college because I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle it all at once. I had my daughter 6 and a half months after I turned 18, and she is now almost 2. I love her with all my heart and don't regret having her, but I do sometimes wonder what life would be like now if I had choosen to wait rather than 'jumping into life' before I was ready.

Bri | 1:55 PM

Amen, sister. Thank you for such an insightful post. Being able to make that choice is the whole point, which can't really be understood until you have to make it. Thanks again for saying what I have felt, but didn't have the words to say.

Anonymous | 2:04 PM

Something that most people know about me is that both of my kids are surprises. They both came about in a soap opera-esque way. The real story of course is having the first at 19. While I am pro-choice I just couldn't have an abortion. Would my life had been easier the last 12 years? You betcha...but, man do I have some stories about struggle and success..pain and happiness. I was meant to have that little boy and even though I have always struggled to be a good Mother to him I'm happy he's here. But, I wonder always if I was fair to him. I was not old enough or mature enough to really be a good mother, I mean REALLY good. I sacrificed a lot in his formidable years, going to college and working. I thought it for the greater good at the time and really what choice did I have? Wait tables and live in a trailor for 10 year and then maybe think about going back to school?? Anyway...like you said so beautifully everyone makes their own choices and lives with them. Sometimes it's a happy ending, sometimes not and then sometimes it's a little of both :)

Jessica
http:\\jcamara2005.spaces.live.com

Jessi Louise | 2:32 PM

Very well said. I wish everyone could step back from judging other people on issues like this, because obviously it can only really be understood by the person making the choice.

Anonymous | 6:06 PM

Unfortunately most teenagers feel ready to have sex, but do not have the ability to deal with any consequences that may arise. My sister-in-law had her first at 15. Her parents didn't kick her out but expected her to pay for diapers and formula. She couldn't even drive, but somehow she needed to arrange childcare and go to school and to a job.

My sister-in-law is a great mom. She's 32 now. But she's never finished high school, she and her husband are ill-suited to one another and she's dependent on him because she couldn't make enough money to support herself, much less her kids.

Empathy and compassion and help after the fact -- if a teen is pregnant or a parent or dealing with the aftermath of an abortion -- is something we shouldn't think twice about. We should help them along to becoming adults, once they are in adult situations. But the reality of our society is that most teens are not ready to take responsibility for their reproductive choices. They are hitting puberty earlier, but actually growing up later.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 6:16 PM

Well said anon 6:06.

mfk | 7:01 PM

well said GGC 12:28 AM. :) tres bien. and hope your speaking voice comes back as strong and clear as your writing voice.

Anonymous | 7:22 PM

This was beautifully written and made me teary. I have been on both sides of the fence. I got pregnant in college and decided to have an abortion. Years later, I had diffculty conceiving and would have given ANYTHING to get pregnant.

Yes, I do think about the fact that I would have a 16 year old had I kept the baby. It broke my heart to do what I did. While I would never do it again, I could never judge someone else for doing it--no matter what age.

I refuse to judge Jamie-Lynn and all the other girls out there who are young and pregnant. I just hope that they have some sort of support system, be it family or friends to help them get through the rough patches.

I know what you mean about "Brick." It makes me cry every time I hear it.

mothergoosemouse | 8:04 PM

Speaking from the perspective of a thirty-something year old woman who, in about two weeks, will give birth to a baby that was conceived in spite of birth control (IUD), I have realized that none of us exert as much control over our lives as we think we do.

The best we can do is know ourselves and make the choices that are best suited to our circumstances, the courts of public or private opinion be damned.

merseydotes | 8:06 PM

I think there's a fine line between being supportive and empathetic when teenagers get in the situation of either becoming a young mother or having an abortion and making it seem like there's nothing undesirable about facing those two options. I don't think society should stigmatize teenage mothers, but I also don't think teen moms should be lifted up and celebrated in a way that makes other teens think, 'Hey, if I get pregnant, no big deal; it will work out fine' or - even worse - 'It would be cool to be a teen mom.' Teens should understand that it CAN work out okay, but that becoming a parent or having an abortion is the kind of experience that can change your life at any age, and going through either experience so early in life is very, very, very hard.

(btw, I'm not some whack-job abstinence only person. I believe in birth control, birth control and more birth control. And did I mention birth control?)

This was very thoughtful, Rebecca. And I'm amazed at how respectful and civil the discussion is around such a hot-button topic. A nice testament to the readership and tone here.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 8:48 PM

Totally, Merseydotes. I agree. Fantastic readership, I have. Classy, insightful, open and ever-fabulous.

andrea | 9:04 PM

Thank you so much for writing this. Having been on both sides of this situation, I applaud you for putting my own thoughts into words in such an eloquent way.

I made a decision to have an abortion many years ago and I still stand by decision today, regardless of the current state of my fertility. Would I have made a different decision had I felt more support from my family and community, perhaps. All I know is that teenagers are going to have sex and unfortunately many of them will get pregnant. I hope that having a peer out there going through the same thing may help to make them feel less alone and maybe more open to talking to someone who can help them make the right decision for themselves.

Meems | 10:57 PM

My sister got pregnant at 17 and it rocked her world. She'd be the first to tell a teenager to be careful. You don't fully understand what you're getting yourself into. It's wonderful that we have choices and support in our choices, she had all the support in the world, but it was still tough.

Where I grew up, so many got pregnant really young, and it wasn't always pretty. Actually, most of the time it wasn't. It takes it's toll. Jamie Lynn is lucky to have the financial security that she does, which will make her transition into motherhood much smoother. Is a 16 year old really a woman? When a kid that young gets pregnant, it's a choice that not only affects her, it affects her whole family and sometimes all of society because she still requires taking care of herself. I think that is what is so difficult about teenage pregnancy.

Anonymous | 11:23 PM

I dont agree. at 16 you cant raise a child on a job at Mcdonalds making 6 dollars an hour. Your parentns are going to be the ones that have to help out in everyway and thats not fair to them... geow the f up... and do it after your an adult.

liina | 6:06 AM

I have to say I don't understand when it became normal for 16-year olds to have sex. When I was 16 no-one I was friends with had sex (maybe because I didn't grow up in the States??) I know it's not the main topic of the post, but I just struggle to understand why teenagers can't keep it simple and not mess around with sex. It does nothing but complicate things when you're at that age...

Anonymous | 6:50 AM

Thank you.

kittenpie | 8:40 AM

Oh yes - I am so with you. choice is about just that - CHOICE, not dictation. I haven't had to face that choice, but I imagine it to be devastating, no matter which way you go with it. I would think it would be one of the hardest choices you'd ever have to make. But I am so grateful that we have the right to make that choice. I think it is so important. The only downside to choice is that it gives people that option to back off the support, since it's a choice you made.

Beautiful and powerful post, Rebecca.

Lisse | 1:43 PM

I don't comment all that often, but I have to say that this was an incredibly mature treatment of this topic.

In this, as in just about any topic, we think we know...but we really don't.

caramama | 2:02 PM

Beautifully written, GGC. And great comments from your readers.

I just wanted to throw in my perspective. Since I had difficulty conceiving, some people assumed I would change my stance on this issue. I haven't, because I respect that people make their own choices based on their situation. I'm not pro-life or pro-abortion, but pro-choice.

I do, however, think that adoption is not discussed enough during these types of discussions. I haven't seen Juno yet, but I believe adoption is a main theme in that movie. I hope it is portrayed well. Because I know of many other people who are not able to conceive at all. If a 16 year old feels they are too young to raise the child, there is the choice to have the child and let someone else raise the child, people who will love that child as their own. And with open adoption being a norm these days, the birth mother is able to still stay in touch with the child and see the child grow. And that can be a wonderful choice for the birth mother, adoptive parent(s) and the child.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:37 PM

Yes, Caramama. That is a great point and I totally agree. Adoption is a great choice and one often overlooked. Go see Juno. You will be moved and impressed by its message.

isunshine | 3:33 PM

I love this post. I support a woman's right to choose, but there's one thing that I must say that I don't think has been said. (sorry, I may have skimmed over some of the comments) I work in the inner city. I am a 2nd grade teacher. EVERY DAY I see children whose mothers CHOOSE to havethem. Crack babies. Meth babies. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome babies. You get my point. Where does the woman's right to choose end? After she's had 6 babies she CHOOSES NOT to take care of. After we've paid for all of her children's food and healthcare so she can CHOOSE not to work? After her babies the she CHOSE to have are on the streets, committing crimes, and having more babies they CHOOSE NOT to take care of. It's an exhausting, depressing, and never-ending cycle.

Anonymous | 5:46 PM

I really love this post. You've captured the many complicated aspects of this issue so well. I don't think I could ever go through with an abortion, but I am vehemently pro-choice. Who am I to tell another woman what's best for her? She should be supported, loved and educated. In the end, she's the one making the choice about her body.

Anonymous | 7:37 PM

Very well written. I agree about a women's right to choose, to make the decision that is best for her in the given circumstance. I have a child & I've had an abortion. Both choices were difficult to make and the right choices for me at the time.

Jenny | 2:02 AM

Great article, there's an interesting discussion about the article you cited here: http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=24049

I would agree with those who say the author is putting women on a pedestal of sorts personally

Box Office Psychics | 2:08 AM

We've started an abortion fund for Jamie Lynn Spears:
http://www.boxofficepsychics.com/?p=1033

foodiemama | 9:01 AM

well said!

Andrea | 9:55 AM

Thank you for such a touching and thoughtful post. I appreciate your ablility to look earnestly at both sides of a very political and sensitive topic.

Liz | 10:47 AM

*swoon* I love this post! I have had two unplanned pregnancies, one at 18 and one at 19. I was pressured both times to consider abortion (ironically, by my Catholic family). The first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, the second gave me my daughter. I hate the assumption that because I chose to have my baby, I don't support other women's right to make their choice based upon what is right for them. I am as pro-choice as the day is long, but I just couldn't do it. And I'm so glad that I didn't.

Indigo Children | 12:07 PM

Amen, amen, amen. Wonderful writing on a very controversial topic. I am also "another mother for choice." First pregnancy unplanned at nineteen, second planned at 32. Different experiences, both choices, neither one mistakes.

I loved Juno, by the way, and I also felt that the message was life goes on. Nothing about her choice seemed easy, but it was hers.

Becky | 3:14 PM

Dude, I just found you, and seriously it was like finding my twin. Weird.

Anyway, I applaud you for saying out loud what I have always said in my head. Like you, my first son was born out of wedlock (also had some speech problems, which is why we enrolled him at age 3 into a Montessori school, too. Told you, we're twins), and I cannot begin to tell you how often I have to correct the misinterpretation that I must be against abortion. It's gotten comical. Except that it's not.

Anyway, nice to have virtually met you, and I am so linking to you.

Anonymous | 3:29 AM

I wish we could be more objective about abortion. I agree that having an unplanned baby is a huge, life-changing event, but I'm not sure that having an abortion is or must be by default. Why must we suggest to women who have one that they are doing something devastating? I'm not American, and as another commenter above has suggested, that may explain my different starting point. If I felt abortion was something to be wrestled with so, or wept over so, I would be pro-life. The power of suggestion is immense. It seems to me that pro-choicers need to rethink how we use it.

These are interesting:
http://timesonline.typepad.com/alphamummy/2007/04/why_i_believe_a.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,1932835,00.html

Jaelithe | 8:36 AM

VERY WELL SAID.

As you know my own pregnancy was unplanned and I was in a situation very similar to yours when I discovered I was pregnant. This post eloquently expresses many thoughts and feelings I have shared.

I think if more people would acknowledge the fact that teenagers have perfectly natural sexual urges (there is a REASON that, until the 20th century, it was considered perfectly normal for people to get married off at 16) it would actually make it a lot easier for parents to talk to their teenaged kids about responsibility. If you really listen to your kids, respect their feelings and ideas, and treat your kids like rational people, they will be much more likely to listen to you when you have something important to say. Respect is a two-way street.

I waited to have intercourse until I was in college, and was (at least at first, heh) very careful about birth control, in part BECAUSE my mother had been so frank and honest with me, had acknowledged the feelings I was facing, had respected my ability to make my own decisions, and had given me very good advice.

skampy | 8:52 AM

this post just gave me goosebumps. i love you and your face, rebecca woolf!

Maremone | 7:55 AM

I'm very strongly pro life, but your post reminded me of the harsh judgements I can pass when I hold all or nothing beliefs.

I think I'm going to be thinking about this all week and have my hubbie read it so we can have some good conversation.

Amazing as always

Her Bad Mother | 2:32 PM

amen amen amen amen amen amen AMEN.

(this post? is one huge part of why I love you.)

hollibobolli | 8:06 PM

this is very close to what I said in one of my hidden posts (hidden because it was written for another site before I moved it to mine and very few people have ever found it on my blog)

As much as most of my readers know I was an unmarried single mother when I had my daughter, it's something I very rarely discuss. I had extreme opinions on both side thrown in my face when I decided to have my daughter and neither changed my mind. I don't know that I would have been as strong in my teens.

I really wish I would have found a supportive friend like you when I needed it most. I hope this blog post is taken to heart by many, many women.

this was a wonderful post.

Staci Schoff | 8:22 PM

Great post, I saw that op-ed too. The most annoying thing about these debates is the way that it's presumed to be weird or unnatural or not good for teenagers to have sexual desires. I mean, hello -- two hundred years ago they would all have been long married and procreating (not that I advocate a return to that model).

Anonymous | 10:40 AM

last time I checked a CHILD at 16 can not have a baby... WHY? because it needs an education... dont give your parents your problems! Its not their fault you are an idiot. A B O R T I O N all the way!

Anonymous | 6:39 PM

Thank you. There may be nothing more to say than that.

I waited for years to get pregnant. And then I got pregnant too often. Two times too often in 2 years. And I aborted them, even though I was happily married and knew that I would be with my husband forever.

Why? Because we were broke. And had 3 children - 1 with us, 2 we were paying child support for.

I will always mourn those children. I cry for them. But I'm grateful that I had the ability to choose what was right for them.

I've never commented anonymously before, but I must here.

Anonymous | 6:33 PM

I have so much to say about this topic ranging from my own two abortions, to the sixteen year-olds I helped through their choices when I taught at a tough public High School, to the Catholic High School that I teach at now, I don't even know where to begin.
Because of the "No Child Left Behind Act" and my lack of teaching certification, I lost my job at a particularly rough public High School even though I had a wonderful relationship with the kids and was even nominated teacher of the year. It was an emotionaly draining job and I saw many kids whose parents "chose" to have them for the sake of being able to use the system and live off of the money they received for them. Like what isunshine said before.

It was awful to see girls 13-16 walking around with full bellies consciously making the decision to have a child because they think "babies are cute" or "they want something to love"... I spoke with many of these girls about all kinds of things, why they chose to have a baby, if they thought it was a good idea, if they really knew the immensity of their decision and more often than not, these girls were just dying for something to love. And that was the saddest part, that no one had loved them enough to know what love even is. And although having a child is a wonderful reflection of love, how can you love a child if you have never known love in your entire life? There were girls that decided it wasn't something they wanted and I was grateful that they could make the decision to choose their future.

Once I found myself without a teaching position after this experience, I was really looking for anything but ended up taking a job at a private Catholic High School. It was the antithesis of where I had come from. Kids that were well behaved and polite and happy and loved. I thought, this is amazing!... and then "Life Week" arrived and I was blindsided. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a Catholic School, how could I have been blindsided. But I was. Pictures of fetuses hung in the halls,"STOP ABORTION NOW!" signs and kids wearing tiny "10 week" feet on their collars. As I said, I had two abortions, so you can imagine the immediate guilt I felt. But then I thought, wait, these people have NO idea what a difficult decision this is or why it's important that it's available. They just see cute little babies everywhere and label anyone who doesn't have the means to take care of this lovely little being a murderer!

I didn't get it. I just kept thinking, they have no idea, none. After coming from my last school I just wanted to scream, "You can not take away someone's choice to do this!". But I couldn't and can't say a word or it's my job.

Now here is the real kicker, I am not married but have been with my partner for the past 5 years. We went through both abortions together and we have talked about marriage but are happy either way, we know the commitment we have to eachother and that is what matters. Well, I found out in August I was pregnant again and we decided this time we were ready and we were going to keep the baby. When I told the school I was pregnant, they said "you're not married and that would be the wrong example to set for our students"... i.e. you're fired, unless you're married. So, I lied. And said I was married and just never told anyone nor changed my last name. Here's my point... these people were ready to fire me for keeping a baby and not being married... which means that I would be jobless and have to take care of my child...how exactly? Then I thought, if I had an abortion, this wouldn't even be an issue. "We're PRO-LIFE, but we won't help you or let you keep your job if you are a sinner!" (oh right, and to all the single guys out there who we can't tell if you're having pre-marital sex, well we'll just have to trust you!) Good luck with that. AY, the hypocrisy!

In the end I am pro-choice and although I can't voice my opinion at a Catholic School, at least I can still voice my opinion through my vote. And all I can hope is that people will take into consideration every situation when they choose wether or not this should be a choice women can ultimately make. Thanks, as always, GGC for the wonderful blogs and I apologize for the length of this comment.

The Grammar Ho | 9:14 AM

"I wasn't 16 when I chose to be a mother but what if I was."
WRONG!
"I wasn't 16 when I chose to be a mother but what if I were."
RIGHT.
It's called the subjunctive tense and it's RAD, babyluv!

ImpostorMom | 10:26 AM

well said.

I had sex way too young. I was lucky in that I never had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy but I'm positive if I had I would have most likely had an abortion. And I suspect it would have been one of the hardest things I would have ever had to deal with. I don't think it is a decision that is ever made lightly. (this is one of the reasons I cannot stand the term pro-abortion)

I do not regret my first sexual experiences because I did truly love that boy. What I regret is how it shaped my view of sex over the next few years until I reached a level of maturity that was more appropriate for sexual behavior.

I think the idea that teenage girls simply should not have sex is an unrealistic expectation. Not for all girls (or boys) mind you but for many.

I think you are exactly right, we need to offer support and open dialogs on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and on the different choices available should one occur.

Anonymous | 2:00 PM

I've read this post three times now, and I still can't find any genuine support in it for women who abort, honestly. It seems a little disingenuous to me, in that it presupposes that abortion is 'bad' and morally questionable. I'm not sure that view is correct.

Here is another article touching on Spears, teenage sex and Juno, with what I would call a genuinely supportive take on young women who abort:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080121/pollitt

Al_Pal | 4:38 AM

Heavy & interesting. Thoughtful treatment! I knew a couple of pregnant girls in HS, and one of those inspired me to go get BC.

Joey | 2:54 PM

I was 21-ish when I had an abortion through the RU-486.

Ten years later, I haven't decided if I want to have a biological child or adopt.

Sometimes I wish I would have kept the baby that I never had...Other times I know I made the right choice.

I made the RIGHT choice for ME (and the guy) at the TIME. So I hate it when I tell myself I "should have had the baby" - because while I may be secure NOW, I may not have ever gotten to this point with a child. And I would be tied to that guy for the rest of my life...depressing thought for me and the child that could have been.