Tuesday, April 3, 2012

16 and Loved

About a year ago, we blogged about "No Easy Decision", an MTV special featuring three young women from the series "16 and Pregnant" who chose abortion under the watch of millions of viewers. These brave, insightful women shared their emotional journeys and unashamedly defended their decisions, with one even referring to abortion as a "parenting decision". It was definitely a victory for honest television.

Last night, viewers encountered another abortion story, brought to us by Exhale, but this time in the context of conflicting pregnancy decisions.

Sisters Brittany and Briana became pregnant at the same time. Brittany, the older, chose abortion, while 17-year-old Briana chose to become a parent. Initially, we see tension between them, as Brittany expresses some sadness about her decision and jealousy about the attention that her pregnant sister receives from their mother.

Eventually though, shit starts to get real. Briana's ex and the baby's father is being a total douche and shows no interest in his daughter. As Briana becomes more stressed and tensions with her sister run high, they have a frank conversation about how their decisions affected each other.

Brittany: “I made my decision so I don't have to eat nobody's shit. I don't know how you do it.”

Briana: “If I could go back and make the decision you made, I would do it. I don't regret having her or anything, but you made a very, very smart decision....I would trade places with [you] any day.”

Having worked on a funding hotline, I heard stories like this all the time. After so many, they started to run together, and I started to nod along to the script that was so familiar. Teenager. Deadbeat baby daddy. Wants to go to college. It got so routine that I even confused the names of callers.

But watching this story, admittedly never having seen the show before, really got me feeling emotional. It reminded me that abortion is not like a McDonald's drive through, regardless of how mundane I've been conditioned to think it is. Having a sneak peek into this woman's life made me see the reality. It was all the things I didn't ever see when I spoke to clients. I've also never been around for the pregnancy of someone close to me, so it was totally eye-opening. And watching this poor girl have to go through her pregnancy without the support of her sister or ex-partner, and later question whether it was even worth it, was just heartbreaking. I was so touched that I also watched the re-run an hour later.

We so rarely see this side of the story. We like to think that having an abortion is a religious experience, but not always. Even if the "abortionee" feels solid in the decision, it's also possible to feel the loss. And, despite what most ob-gyn websites depict, not all pregnant people glow. What's interesting is regardless of their respective decisions, the love for the life that could have been was almost palpable. While one sister mourned the loss of her motherhood opportunity, the other - knowing full well how much she would come to love her daughter - would have chosen differently given the chance. It goes to show, for all the naysayers out there, that abortion can definitely be a decision made out of love and care, and absolutely a parenting decision.

If you'd like to share your love with Brittany and Briana:


  1. Wow, I loved this post, it's so thought-ful and thought-provoking. I've only ever watched "16 & Pregnant" a few times (one of those dark times when you can't help but get sucked into a marathon) and really didn't intend to again, but your description really makes me want to watch this episode. Thank you!

  2. There is a new response to the antis who hang around the clinic doors and harass the medical providers. I read about it on the Widdershins blog. http://thewiddershins2.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/feminist-friday-reach-out-and-touch-someone/

    Here is an excerpt:

    "I have a new hero, and his name is Todd Stave. Todd inherited an office building from his father that houses an abortion provider. He has been familiar with protesters picketing, praying,lighting candles and displaying gory photographs outside of the building, and supports their right to do so under the First Amendment.

    The protestors, however, began to gather outside of his daughters school and then began calling his home at all hours of the day and night demanding that he terminate the lease, and to let him know that they were praying for his soul. Todd first got angry, then he figured out a way to get even.

    He began to write down the telephone numbers of the callers, and enlisted his friends who enlisted their friends, and so forth. Soon the callers were receiving hundreds of telephone calls from people who spoke softly and nicely thanking them on behalf of the Stave family for their prayers.

    The callers also advised that the Stave family could not and would not terminate the lease, as they believe in choice.

    Word spread, and a new association has formed – Voice of Change. From their website:

    For too long, the abortion discussion has been dominated by angry, nasty protests fueled by individuals and organizations that thrive on sensationalism and extremism. Now it is our turn.

    “Voice of Choice” was established as a calm, measured response to anti-abortion activists who engage in misguided, raging protest tactics that are often ill-informed and only serve to victimize women, pro-choice professionals, law-abiding businesses and unaligned bystanders.

    We use email, telephone and social media in peaceful, person-to-person counter-protests against groups that target abortion facilities, providers and patients, as well as their families and communities. We don’t question anyone’s right to express opinions and ideals; we challenge their bullying tactics and their contempt..."

  3. Thanks, Greenconsciousness! I actually am a member of Voice of Choice and blogged about it recently, check out that post if you want to learn how to get involved! http://abortioneers.blogspot.com/2012/03/strength-in-numbers.html


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.