It's always the elephant in the room when you're a pro-choice person watching one of MTV's Teen Mom shows. Why on Earth did none of the girls seriously consider abortion? And now it seems the show is actually influencing a generation to become more pro-choice in their beliefs.
It makes sense, too. Every time one of the girls talks about how her life changed or how hard it all is or everything she gave up to have her baby, there is always that truth hovering just there in the horizon: It didn't have to be that way. But of course, everyone erupts if you even say the word "abortion."
But not everyone, it seems. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that Americans who watch Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant generally feel that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (65 percent vs. 56 percent of the public). I can see why.
As someone who grew up with a vehemently pro-choice mother and attended marches on Washington before I could even drive, I have always believed that abortion is a choice that every woman has the right to make for herself.
That makes me pro-choice. It has never been that abortion is a good thing. And that was never more clear than after I had my first child. Until she was born, abortion was an intellectual discussion, but as someone who practiced very careful birth control (and backup birth control), I was luckily never put in a position where I had to make a choice. So the only times I have ever been pregnant were when the babies were very much wanted and blessed.
This isn't the case with every baby, unfortunately. And while we openly talk of adoption on The Stir when it comes to the show, the truth is, when it comes to many of the girls on these shows, abortion would be the much smarter option. It's always impossible to say after a baby is born that abortion would be smarter without it sounding like that baby should be dead. But the fact is, to many, abortion happens before the baby is a baby.
Whether you "believe" in abortion or not, the fact is it exists, people have them, and they have different ideas about when life begins. That is what "pro-choice" means. Saying one of these girls would have been better off had she chosen abortion is roughly the same as saying she would have been better off if she'd never had a baby. And we all know that is true. She would be.
Having babies too young is a tragedy. No matter how pretty the bow you tie it with, no matter how much it makes you grow up or how mature you are, you would have been better off if you had waited. Still, there are some teens who make better parents than others. And for the rest, there are THREE choices, only one of which comes with the added bonus of creating a smaller disruption in a child's life.
It's a complete fallacy to say if you're old enough to have sex, you're old enough to procreate. That is the kind of statement a person who isn't very wise in the ways of the world makes. People have sex every day who should not and cannot be parents. Not every baby is a blessing. And yes, Teen Mom reminds me of this.
I love babies, adore them, in fact. But every baby deserves to be born into a home where they're wanted and loved and have plenty of money and all the opportunity in the world. If that isn't possible, then a pregnant woman has three choices and ought to think long and hard before making the knee-jerk one. Sure, life is a wonderful gift, but so is a bright future and plenty of opportunity and happiness.
Even though the moms on Teen Mom rarely discuss abortion, they do a great job convincing others it's a choice that still needs to be available. It may not be an easy or fun choice, but in many cases, it's the right one.
Does Teen Mom make you more pro-choice?
Image via MTV