THE PRO-LIFE/PRO-CHOICE ISSUE has been front and center in the MSM and on social media in recent months. Proposals and legislation to either end most abortions or to allow them to occur up to (and even post birth!) are showing up in almost every state in the nation. People are taking sides as strong pro-life conservatives or advocates of a woman’s right to choose and battling the issue out on Twitter and Facebook.
Articles are appearing that call abortion murder, either because life begins at conception, as deemed by The Department of Health and Human Services, a government agency, or because of the scientific argument that the cells of an embryo have all the genetic material that the baby, born or aborted, would ever need throughout adulthood. Other articles refute the claims either because the sources believe them but still believe a woman should have a right to choose, or that the claims are false and that the fetus is not really a viable human until it can live outside the womb.
It is still a debate for the ages. Who gets to decide whether an unborn baby has a life and a future, and more importantly, why?
As people bantered back and forth on social media, I came across a post by a friend who gave an example of a situation and pointed out that, “it’s not that easy.”
Here’s the issue. If you recall back to your middle and high school and college days, many people were having sex outside of marriage; some as young as twelve years old. The numbers are available. The number of pregnancies may be dropping because of birth control but teens and young people still have raging hormones and millions of them still engage in sexual activity, no matter how they were raised.
On the other hand, many do not. I am focusing on those who do and those who did though. If we look at a particular year pulled out of the past just for the sake of illustration, and use a hypothetical school system and hypothetical data, it might look something like this:
In Maybebaby County, Kansas, 82 girls became pregnant in the school system in 1996, not including those who naturally miscarried early.
Sixty-eight of them had abortions, not including taking the morning after pill (in which case, girls would not know they were pregnant so are not being counted here). Of these 68 girls, half of them were forced to abort by their mothers who felt they were too young or just didn’t want them to be pregnant for whatever reason. The other half had abortions because they did not want to be pregnant and were scared either that their parents would find out, or that their boyfriends would dump them.
Fourteen of the girls delivered babies.
Out of the fourteen babies delivered, six girls kept their babies and their parents were involved and helpful in raising the child. The other eight adopted out their babies, either because they did not want to raise them or their parents forced them to adopt them out.
That sets the stage for the following discussion:
Out of all the women and girls who had sex outside of marriage in Maybebaby County in 1996, what percentage of them were these 82 girls? That number is an unknown quantity but it’s probably a very small percentage. Odds are that the 82 teens comprised far less than 5% of the unmarried women and men having sex together.
So these odds are kind of like roulette.
With the exception of a couple, most of those girls didn’t want to get pregnant, but they did want to have sex, or were strongly coerced to by a guy that they were interested in, even if it was one night at a party and there was drinking and/or drugs present. The bottom line is the firing line.
Who gets talked about, blamed, fingers pointed at when a teen gets pregnant? The teen. She is blamed for what happened, for allowing it to happen, for not being in control, for not being on birth control (although it’s been proven that pregnancies still occur while on birth control). She is the one who is gossiped about, whose parents get stared at with side glances by parents whose kids did not hit that roulette fetal jackpot.
It really does put a family and a teen in a precarious situation.
This does not at all mean that abortion is the answer. It is not, but as my friend said, it’s not that easy. And to complicate matters, another life is at stake.
What if everyone who has engaged in premarital (or extramarital!) sex had a big S show up on their cheek and could not hide it? Both men and women? This great equalizer would embarrass millions of parents, and staunch church attenders and legalists, and cause teens to run away from home or hang their heads in shame, or maybe not care.
But this stigma would put the blame equally on everyone who engaged in the activity and not just on the teen girls who ended up with the prize – an unborn baby and a decision that would leave deep regrets no matter what it is.
If she aborts, she will wonder about the baby never born, how old it would be, what kind of life it would have had. Was it a boy or a girl? Would it have been so bad to carry the baby to term and keep it? Or even put it up for adoption?
If she has the baby, she will have regrets about what she missed in high school; about being laden with responsibilities she is unprepared for, about perhaps ruining a future away at college that she was so hopeful about. And always, the relationship with her friends and relatives would bear that stigma that she had a baby while she was yet a child. Sadly, the most important concern is the boyfriend she loves, who usually disappears from the picture as soon as possible.
When I was in high school, the daughter of a Baptist preacher got pregnant. No one would have ever guessed she would have been in a relationship, let alone a sexual one. She dropped out and married the guy, who was a couple years older than she was.
People stick their noses up in disgust. They say, “couldn’t she have kept her legs crossed like good girls do?” They blame her parents. They blame her school. They blame her. So much blame and so much guilt. And so much escape for the ones who got away with it and never had the stick turn blue. And no one knows today. It’s hardly fair.
These situations are different than exotic dancers who abort babies one after another because they cannot do their disgusting jobs and they don’t want to ruin their bodies. They are different than grown women who, for selfish reasons abort a baby, since it didn’t jive with their lifestyle and they couldn’t allow someone else to raise it!
They are different than the 26 year-old woman I knew in the early years of my career who aborted six weeks before her wedding because she would have been three months pregnant by then, and unable to fit in her dress – and besides, she told me, people would have counted back and realized she got pregnant before she married the guy and it would have reflected badly on her influential father, who was wealthy. Needless to say, I have no idea what happened to her, nor do I care. It was the epitome of selfishness to throw away a child from a marriage that happened three months after he/she was conceived.
These situations are different because responsibility is experimental for teens. They often can’t see past next week because it’s too far away. Most of them seem okay on the outside, but underneath the ruse is often a different person brewing in a stew of hormones, and even depression, sometimes leading to suicide or drugs or other bad decisions.
The lack of parental involvement in the lives of their children is often the reason but not always. Electronics have become babysitters and consume the free time of not only the teens, but their parents as well. The lack of communication is escalating, but the problem of sex outside of marriage for young people is not new. And there is no easy solution because where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Teens are afraid to reach out to adults because they believe they will get blamed or reprimanded or even punished. Sometimes they should be. They know right from wrong. But to ostracize the ones who happened to get pregnant out of all the ones who could have is just wrong. After all, could that have been you? Did you escape hitting the fetal prize on the roulette wheel when you were in school?