I understand the very real moral dilemmas around abortion. But if you want to deny abortions, then this is the ugly life sentence you are condemning a young girl to. A young girl who has not committed a crime. Who is not guilty of anything other than doing what she sees others doing openingly, freely. The only difference between her and the others… her body’s biological timing was wrong.
For that should she be condemned to a life of poverty and no dreams?
The average teen girl would be led to believe that teen pregnancy doesn’t ruin adolescence, but instead brings lavish amounts of attention, an adoring and adorable teen father, and an endless supply of parental support. The reality for most teen moms could not be more different. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, eight in 10 teen fathers do not marry the mother of their first child. Kids without involved fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, twice as likely to end up in jail, and two to three times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. Children who live apart from their fathers are also five times more likely to be poor than children with both parents at home.
Teen mothers, typically left to go it alone, are less likely to complete the education necessary to qualify for a well-paying job — in fact, parenthood is the leading cause of school drop out among teen girls. College then becomes the remotest of possibilities. Less than two percent of mothers who have children before age 18 complete college by the age of 30.
Too often heartbreaking sacrifices are also foisted on the child of a teenage mom. The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely at low birthweight compared to children of older mothers, which raises the probability of infant death and disease, mental retardation, and mental illness. Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade and are less likely to complete high school. The children of teen parents also suffer higher rates of abuse and neglect (two times higher).
Teen girls and their children are not the only ones paying dearly. Teen childbearing in the United States costs taxpayers (federal, state, and local) approximately $9.1 billion each year. Most of the costs are associated with services to address the negative consequences detailed above.
My sister is just such a victim. As a result of her teen pregnancy, she was kicked out of the private school she was attending (the father was not) – she never completed high school except for years later in the form of a GED. And has suffered economically for years as a result. And this is for a pregnancy that ended in a stillborn birth.
My mother for years had worked a hot line for Problem Pregnancy Help in Michigan. She took many calls from girls who did not know the basic biology behind how pregnancy happens. Some examples that I remember from her conversations with me:
- A girl who considered herself a virgin because her boyfriend always pulled out before orgasm. (Newsflash: a guy leaks sperm long before orgasm)
- A girl who had thought she was only fertile when her period was happening (the opposite of the reality)
If you don’t want abortions, then you must accept a life-long punishment for teen mothers OR you must be willing to talk about sex and pregnancy prevention in school. Because right now, girls are getting their (mis)information from each other and from Cosmo / Ms teen magazines and from older guys who want to have sex with them.
Most teen girls who end up having sex are having sex with older guys. A 19-, 20-year-old can easily manipulate a 14-, 15-year-old girl who is entering a period of her life when looks, social acceptance, and identity are all being questioned and reevaluated. A guy with money telling a vulnerable girl that she is the hottest chick in her class, can easily get her to sleep with him.
For that should she be condemned to poverty?
She was a victim here.