Jesurgislac’s Journal

January 12, 2010

Teenagers having babies: Just Not A Good Idea

I’m pro-choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion, as discussed earlier: it means I think that the woman who is pregnant is the one who gets to make the decisions.

But with regard to teenagers who get pregnant: I’d counsel very strongly towards having an abortion, and the younger the teenager, the more strongly.

Reason one, and the single most important one: Getting pregnant too young is bad for your long-term health. There are no circumstances under which an early abortion wouldn’t be far better for the teenager’s health than carrying a pregnancy to term.

Reason two: None of the options for a teenage mother – especially one too young to have a legal full-time job – are good. The pro-lifers who think teenage girls can be used as surrogates to produce healthy babies for their adoption industry, are the most callously damaging, but none of the other prospects are particularly good either – a teenager who has a strong supportive family behind her, willing to provide free childcare and financial support, may still manage to get the education she needs to get a job to be able to support her child, but the odds are against her.

So: a teenager who’s pregnant, ought to be told her first, best choice would be to have an early abortion. (And yes: there are circumstances under which I’d say that a parent is justified in ignoring a 13-year-old girl’s arguments that ABORTION IS MURDER, supposing she comes up with them, and saying firmly “We’re going to the clinic, you’re talking to the counselor” – the doctor shouldn’t perform the abortion against the girl’s will, but the parents should absolutely be doing everything possible to encourage the girl to do the right thing and agree to terminate. Including finding this 13-year-old an afternoon job in a baby nursery wiping up vomit, shit, and other baby messes.)

What if the teenager has unsupportive, abusive parents who think she should have the baby whether or not she wants to do that, and plan to force her to abandon the baby to the adoption industry?

Well, then the teenager should be supported by the law, medical ethics, and humanity, against her abusive parents: she should be able to have an abortion without her parents knowing about it. (Most of the time, I think, most parents would do the right thing even if initially they got mad at their daughter: but a child who says firmly that she doesn’t want her parents to know, may well have good reason to think her parents would be abusive.) Laws that force the government into the parent-child relationship, that require parental consent before medical staff can provide a pregnant teenager with the abortion she needs, are vile and inethical.

As Harriet Jacobs at Fugitivus says, the thunderous conclusion of a fantastic post that outlines how parental notification laws actually work to harm children by denying them essential medical services:

So, welcome to the reality of legal restrictions on medical services to teenagers! This is a thing to keep in mind whenever you read about a new law taking shape or being passed. If the new law does not explicitly identify standards and procedures, and if it does not explicitly identify service providers, and if those service providers do not actually exist in your community, you now have a pretty good idea of the intentions of the lawmakers. Passing a law that is undefined and inaccessible is passing a law you don’t want to see enforced. When lawmakers passed this notification law, they didn’t want girls to actually be able to acquire bypasses. They didn’t even care if girls notified their parents. If they had cared about these things, the law would have actually addressed what “notification” means, what “parents” mean, and who provides bypasses. It did not address these things, because these were not the things lawmakers actually wanted to see happen. The lawmakers purposefully made a law where it is impossible to ensure compliance, but is entirely possible to be punished for non-compliance. They made it this way because they did not want to see compliance. They wanted to see a full stop.

They wanted to see teenagers forced into either having illegal abortions or having babies they did not want and could not support, to provide products for an industry valued at $1.4 billion.

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7 Comments »

  1. “But with regard to teenagers who get pregnant: I’d counsel very strongly towards having an abortion, and the younger the teenager, the more strongly.”

    While for the most part I agree with you, this sentence I find personally offensive.

    If it weren’t for teenage pregnancy, almost the entirety of my family tree going back centuries would not exist. As for being harmful to health, well, we have a track record in my family of not dying until we are very old, often regardless of bad habits!
    As for too young..what exactly is too young??? It seems such a goalpost has been moved repeatedly as time marches on. In the 17 and 1800’s girls being married and having babies at 15 and 16 was common rather than a social problem or exception. But I suppose times have changed quite a bit, and in partiality due to different views socially and within the framework of laws and regulations.

    To adress the post as a whole, I am not for abortion, but I’m not going to waste my time making it a key issue to argue against if I were to ever run for office. The problem with politicians is they spend way too much time making laws regarding social and personal safety issues than actually addressing problems that are real and affect a greater pportion of the population as a whole, such as economics and the like.

    Comment by Mike Lovell — January 12, 2010 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

    • While for the most part I agree with you, this sentence I find personally offensive. If it weren’t for teenage pregnancy, almost the entirety of my family tree going back centuries would not exist.

      And if it weren’t for the kidnapping, enslavement, and rape of millions of Africans in centuries gone by, Senators Edward William Brooke and Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun would never have been born (just examples: indeed, most likely the majority of African-Americans in the US today would simply never have existed, because the vast majority of Americans descended from former slaves have at least one white rapist in their ancestry.) Do you suppose African-Americans get personally offended when people condemn slavery and the rape of slaves as evil? Or is this just something a white guy’s got time for?

      My mum and dad met because of WWII. (Not during: long after. But directly because.) Should I get personally offended if someone says war is bad? I don’t, by the way.

      As for being harmful to health, well, we have a track record in my family of not dying until we are very old, often regardless of bad habits!

      Yep. If you have a large number of teenage mothers in your family tree and they all survived, you have an impressively healthy genetic heritage. So? This will be of no consolation to the many families who lost their daughters – and their future grandchild – because the girl got made pregnant too young to survive. Are you really such a fan of teenage girls dying?

      As for too young..what exactly is too young??? It seems such a goalpost has been moved repeatedly as time marches on. In the 17 and 1800’s girls being married and having babies at 15 and 16 was common rather than a social problem or exception.

      Well, girls having babies at 15 / 16 was common – no effective contraception, infanticide far less risky than abortion in that era. Married teens not so common – you had to be able to afford to get married. Of course adult men had the option of raping unprotected girls outside marriage, or forcing teenage girls into marriage and making forced sex perfectly legal. Teenage girls had little choice: but if you regard their deaths as okay, I don’t suppose you care much about girls being raped by their much-older husbands, either. And deaths in childbirth were also far more common, not regarded as a social problem – just as pro-lifers today take the sternly 17th-century attitude that breeding is what women are for.

      To adress the post as a whole, I am not for abortion, but I’m not going to waste my time making it a key issue to argue against if I were to ever run for office.

      *shrug* You’d just let other legislators argue for forced pregnancy instead, huh? Prepared to bet if you were in office, with your favouring death and rape for teenage girls, you’d probably vote for forced pregnancy/illegal abortion.

      Seriously, Mike: you may have only boys, and therefore be indifferent to the problems girls face when they need medical help, but I’d like to think better of you than this callous comment suggests.

      Comment by jesurgislac — January 12, 2010 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  2. Well first off, the meaning behind my being offended was of a facetious nature! You should know by now I’m a smartass first, serious second. Don’t go linking your replies to me as if I’m Rguy your talking to!!! LOL. As for WWII, my mom’s parents met because of the war as well. Papa brought her over here to the States after he was done serving in Germany.

    As for the TOO YOUNG to get pregnant, that part agree with you. I was merely pondering just what age is to young. And I suppose that ultimately is decided by the biology of each individual, now that I think about it.

    As for me having just boys, doesn’t make me indifferent. In fact I’m quite well aware of what issues girls have, since in my generation of the family, I was literally the ONLY boy, so I got educated on that icky girl stuff whether or not I liked it. Lucky I didn’t get cooties!!! I consider myself quite lucky to have only boys. I’d rather have to worry directly about their antics than the antics of every single male in the world, should I ever be blessed with a baby girl. That, and I don’t want to be wrapped around a little girl’s finger. My sister just had a baby girl this last fall and I met when they came up to my folks for Christmas. Cute kid, and I’m sure I’ll be wrapped around her finger from a long distance, regardless!

    As for letting other legislators argue in favor of making abortion illegal, NO, that’s not what I said or meant. Abortion is legal here, and I’m not going to change that status or argue for the change in status. What I meant is these social laws that are argued over constantly in Congress here in the States are more for blowharding idiots and vote getting, than actually trying to solve problems that however they vote on an issue might cause them consequence come election time. It’s all smokescreen stuff when they run around popping off at the mouth.

    Our Congress, more often than not, would prefer to investigate steroid use in baseball, and more recently try to make a playoff system in college football (something Id prefer over the BCS popularity contest…but not congressional material in my mind), than actually make real laws or discuss matters that will actually affect people, like the economy, healthcare, etc.

    Comment by Mike Lovell — January 12, 2010 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

    • As for the TOO YOUNG to get pregnant, that part agree with you. I was merely pondering just what age is to young. And I suppose that ultimately is decided by the biology of each individual, now that I think about it

      I’d definitely agree with you on the ‘it depends on the individual’. I have a couple of pairs of pants in my box of stuff to be got rid of that I can’t wear because in between when I bought them at 20-ish and now at 30-ish, my hip measurement expanded. My body fat percentage is lower than it was back then, but I can’t fit into them because my hips are wider.

      Comment by Freya — January 16, 2010 @ 4:18 am | Reply

    • Well first off, the meaning behind my being offended was of a facetious nature!

      Oh God. Mike, what do you think smileys are for? To avoid getting flamed when you’re being facetious!

      *switches off flamethrower*

      What I meant is these social laws that are argued over constantly in Congress here in the States are more for blowharding idiots and vote getting, than actually trying to solve problems that however they vote on an issue might cause them consequence come election time. It’s all smokescreen stuff when they run around popping off at the mouth.

      Well, yeah. But it stinks that they do it when actual lives are at stake.

      Comment by jesurgislac — January 22, 2010 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  3. Brushes off pieces of burnt shirt…..thank God….was getting warm in here! Now if you could aim that thing around Iowa and thaw out this ice storm we got, before the flooding rains, snow, and expected re-freeze get here, we’d appreciate it!

    Comment by Mike Lovell — January 22, 2010 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  4. Completely agree. Teenagers shouldn’t be getting pregnant, and obviously because they are young the father of the child will most likely not be around. I would be so embarassed if my mum was a teenager when she had me. But the weird thing is, where I live, there are 15 year olds having babies…and then somewhere else there are 15 year olds MOTHERS having babies. Both seem odd, in the first sense; the mum will be 20 when her child is 5 and in the second she’ll be 20 and leaving home when her brother or sister is 5 an they won’t really get to know each other properly. Things like this kind of disgust me. As like you I’m only up for abortion if completely necessary (If they got raped. etc) I do agree that abortion isn’t really a nice, however I’ve heard a lot of stories where a teenager decides during the middle of the pregnancy that she doesn’t want it anymore and in England you can have an abortion up to 25 weeks, which is when the foetus already has fingers, eyelashes and is starting to get eyelashes. If someone really doesn’t want a baby so bad, they should use protection or go on the pill..and if they want an abortion do it sooner rather than later because it’s not seen as “murder” when it’s inside you.

    Comment by Someone — April 23, 2011 @ 12:33 pm | Reply


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