What Being a Teen Mom Taught Me About Choice

In celebration of Mother’s Day, May 9th, 2010, RH Reality Check is publishing a series of articles on the intersection of motherhood with reproductive and sexual justice.

Propagating the mantra ‘Don’t do it’ does little to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy and STIs. Warnings do little without framework and support.

At age 17, struggling with the choice to become sexually active, I realized how little I knew about how to protect myself. What little knowledge I had came from MTV’s HIV/AIDs awareness.  Promoting the use of condoms is an important step, but ensuring that 17 year-olds watching know where to obtain condoms is an even more important one.

Later that year, I had another choice to make.  At 18, I chose to carry my unintended pregnancy to term, still unsure of the path I would take.  Just prior to my high school graduation, I made the choice to be a mother and work my way from there. The key point was that I was able to make all those choices.  I chose.  I chose to go onto college, work like crazy and attempt to be a competent mother.  I chose to do all this in the face of scrutiny and doubt. It was my choice and I was responsible for that choice.

My choices are what make me who I am: I am a pro-choice mom.

Not all women are able to make these same choices in their lives. In an all-out assault on women’s rights, conservatives want to remove a woman’s free will and make choices for them. Conservatives talk about personal responsibility and personal freedom, yet they want to take away the fundamental right to control our own body. They want to take away a woman’s right without taking any of the responsibility that goes with it. When legislators remove choice, they are making the choices for women and therefore are responsible for those actions. Responsible for those tragic deaths of desperate women and girls; responsible for the terrible deaths of babies because women have nowhere to turn and don’t know about safe- haven laws. Taking away women’s rights to choose takes away their free will and puts the responsibility on the state and those legislators that made the choice for them.

We, as pro-choice men and women, pro-choice mothers and fathers, need to stand up to legislators that continue to chip away at our choices. I honor and respect the choices of all women and acknowledge that there is no one right choice for all.  I support and defend our right to choose. So this weekend, along with celebrating my son’s 13th birthday; I will celebrate my choices in life, all my choices. On Mother’s Day, we all can celebrate the choices women in our lives have made and we must work to ensure that future women have the same right to choose that I did.

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  • saltyc

    Happy birthday to your son! Let’s celebrate mother’s day by taking a load off a mother you know. Don’t ask how a woman got herself into a tough spot before deciding to help her.

  • radicalhousewife

    Yes!  I loved reading this. 

    Your son is a lucky kiddo.  Happy birthday, mom!

  • concernedmom

    You did let your son be born, that you didn’t deny his right to LIVE just because he was inside your body trying to grow. To me, once a life is conceived, that’s a gamechanger. You have a new, developing little person that belongs to no one but you, for 9 months. The instinct is to protect that life, because he is a developing HUMAN BEING. To “choose” robbing that baby of his future, of not finding a way to give him a chance to go to a couple who are waiting to adopt- seems absolutely callous & self centered. But hey, I guess that’s the difference between those who are pro LIFE and those who are ANTI life, isn’t it?

    • clairejulia

      Being Pro-Choice does not make you Anti-Life. Nobody WANTS to abort a child. It’s a heartbreaking decision, not some spur of the moment thing. :-/

  • jayn

    Exaclty, claire.  As I see it, if an abortion is being considered, the situation by definition sucks on some level.  It doesn’t suck equally for everyone, nor is it necessarily a hard decision, but the ideal isn’t to have an abortion–the ideal is to never be in that situation in the first place.  Unfortunately, the world is rarely ideal.