Sunday, January 31, 2010

About That Pregnant Teen....

Now that I have come to the defense of the pregnant teen, I find it necessary to make some distinctions and give some, probably unwanted, advice.

I do not advocate teens having deliberate pregnancies. With those of us from the BSE, stuff happened. The reason stuff happened is that we were woefully undereducated about sex and reproduction and had no access to birth control or safe, legal pregnancy termination. There sure were no morning after pills to be had. That is something the younger generation seems to find unbelievable but it is true. Teens and unmarried women were denied birth control in those days. And, for me, the pill was a couple of years away. All we had were condoms and those were often unreliable and overlooked because young men had problems going into the corner drugstore for a pack of Trojans.

Today's teens are a lot more savvy about sex and much more sophisticated than I was. But they are just as impressionable and impulsive. That hasn't changed. Along come the anti-choice contingient with their horror-story pamphlets and strident chants, add into the mix the inane and unworkable "abstinence only" propaganda, and you have a fertile field for harvesting good, little, adoptable fundies.

Education about the workings of the reproductive systems and how to acquire and use effective birth control seem to be missing from the equation. Some people seem to think that giving this information to our children will encourage them to have premarital sex and we don't want to think our little Suzie or Johnny is allowing anyone to sully their pure little bodies. But think back. Post-puberty is a powerful time in our lives and the hormones flow in rivers through our systems. That can interfere with good decisions and merits protection from lapses in judgment. And a teen CAN be in love, feeling a love just as real to them as it is to those of us in more mature relationships.

I wonder if anyone has connected the reported rise in teen pregnancies to the abstinence-only and anti-choice movements that overwhelmed us in the prior administration? There seems to be a connection to me. And the scary thing is that many of these girls are getting pregnant on purpose and for all the wrong reasons.

To our teens. Yes, have your children while you are young, healthy and energetic. But the optimum age span for really viable pregnancies is ages 18 - 29, NOT 12 and up. If you are going to be sexually active, then use protection against disease, go to the local Department of Public Health and obtain effective birth control and you will be exercising informed choices. And try to exercise good judgment in your partner.

Parents, give your teens this information. It's not automatic permission to have sex, but if they do, then they are protected. And, if it does happen despite it all, and your teen daughter is pregnant and wishes to bear her baby, support her, welcome your grandchild, and make sure the father of that baby takes his responsibility. You are her best resource, comfort and guide. Think love and compassion rather than politics and dogma. Don't jump on the adoption bandwagon. Talk to some adult adoptees in private, where they can speak freely and then think about your grandchild.

Give your child the support we didn't receive and you won't be sorry.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I just stumbled upon your blog, and am a fan -- you make very good points!

To your question about teen pregnancy rates / abstinence-only policies, The New Yorker had an article in the run-up to the 2008 election (like maybe in September-ish? My memory isn't what it used to be....) talking about how teen pregnancy rates are higher in "red" states than "blue" states. This may be part of the answer you're looking for!