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Author Topic: An exercise for Roe Vs. Wade's Anniversary
Heather
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In case you weren't aware, it's the 37th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade here in the US, the landmark court decision which legalized abortion.

Often, users here at Scarleteen, especially the youngest users, haven't yet had to make any choices with a pregnancy, and that can certainly influence one's feelings about and understanding when it comes to what it's like for women who do make those choices.

So, here's what I want to do today, for those of you who haven't found yourselves in that position, either because you're male-bodied or simply have not been pregnant in your life. I'd like to put out three sample scenarios in which a given person would be making a difficult reproductive choice, the kinds of scenarios that those of us who work in this arena tend to see every day. Scenarios which are much more common than women having a fully planned pregnancy which she 100% wants and is also 100% prepared to handle, from pregnancy until a child is an adult.

I've left out a scenario we tend to see a lot with later procedures, which is dealing with health risks or birth defects: scenarios like that tend to be even more complex, and I figured we'd start with easier (though none are easy) situations.

What I invite you to do with them is this: read them, pick one or even all of them and put yourself in the shoes of that person. Then, think about and write about what choice you feel would be your best choice in that situation: pregnancy and parenting, adoption or abortion. There's no right answer with this, as there never is with reproductive choices, and I fully expect people to have different answers.

Please use "I" statements in doing this -- pretend that person is you -- and do refrain from making any broad judgments about all women or all women in that position, like "I don't think women should [whatever it is]" or "Abortion, adoption/parenting isn't okay because..." rather than "I'd choose [whatever] because, for me in that situation..." Got it? For those interested in the exercise, here goes!

• You're a 16-year-old woman who is pregnant. Your boyfriend would probably be a good co-parent, and your relationship is pretty good, but it's still pretty new, neither of you have jobs, and you're not even sure if you want to parent at any point in your life yet or not. You never really thought about it. Your parents don't know you have been having sex, and are not likely to be supportive no matter what choice you make, and are also likely to kick you out of the house because of your pregnancy, no matter what you choose. Your boyfriend says he would emotionally support you and do his best to help if you chose to stay pregnant and parent, but he has strong feelings against both abortion and adoption in general. He recognizes it's your choice, but if you chose abortion or adoption, you'd probably wind up breaking up and going through those things alone. He would, however, probably still consent to adoption if that's what you decided to do, so he probably wouldn't block that choice for you. Your high school does not offer any kind of program for pregnant students, and daycare would not be something you could afford, but you may be able to get help from his extended family with childcare and a place to live with them. It seems like in order to parent and pay the costs of parenting, one or both of you would probably have to drop out of high school.

What would you choose, what are your big considerations in making this choice, and how would you best manage your choice?

• You're a 37-year-old woman who is pregnant. You have two children already. You're married, but only one of you has an income and it's a very low-paying job. You have medical coverage, but it isn't great, and in this economy, you worry about your spouse getting laid off. You love the kids you have, but parenting two is already challenging for you and your spouse, especially since you stay home and take care of them during the day and some nights all by yourself. You also had really been hoping to go back to school for yourself soon since you never got the chance to finish college. Given your age, you know pregnancy could potentially be complicated, and that it's going to be hard to be pregnant for 10 months and take care of your other two children, and that after the birth, it's going to be even harder for your family to cover the costs of one more child, and will probably mean the two kids you already have will need to get by on even less than they do already. Doing things like helping to pay for college later in their lives is already not going to be possible. It will probably mean you or your spouse also taking a night job, which means one or both of you seeing all of your kids less than you do now. You think your family and marriage could weather another pregnancy and child, and you know you could both absolutely love another child, you just know it's going to also be hard on all of you. Your spouse is fully supportive of any choice you want to make, and you know he will stand by you no matter what.

What would you choose, what are your big considerations in making this choice, and how would you best manage your choice?

• You're a 23-year-old woman who is pregnant. You're one year away from being done with college, with plans to then move on to medical school, and you've had to work really hard to both do the work and pay for part of your schooling, but you've done it and are still pretty solvent. You think you might want to have kids at some point in your life, but this is ot the best timing for you, and certainly not an ideal fit with your life plans and goals. You got pregnant via an ex who you know you can't rely on, and who you know would not likely take any part in parenting, and if he did, would not likely be a good co-parent. He'd probably make parenting harder for you, and you don't really want to have to deal with him at all, anyway. Your parents are supportive of you no matter what, and would probably help you out with some of the costs of your pregnancy, delivery and parenting, and would also probably be willing to help with childcare. They'd also be supportive of your other two choices. Even so, finishing your last year in school will be hard if you stay pregnant, and choosing to stay pregnant and give birth now might mean not finishing school at all, even when you're so close to being done.

What would you choose, what are your big considerations in making this choice, and how would you best manage your choice?

[ 01-22-2010, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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EliotDorian
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*I* would have an abortion. I'd be sorely tempted to pretend I had a miscarriage to my boyfriend, if I were the sixteen-year-old, but then I'd eventually grow up and confess that I had an abortion and on top of that, I lied, and I'd brace myself for his dumping me and possibly never speaking to me again. As the 37-year-old mother of two, well, easy, abortion, in full faith that my husband will stand by me. And as a 23-year-old, I'd have an abortion. A better question for me is "Under what circumstances would I bring a pregnancy to term?" And the answer to that? If I caused the pregnancy deliberately.

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treetops
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Thanks for posting this, Heather; it's very thought-provoking.

The first scenario seems to me to be especially difficult: if I do anything other than decide to parent, I have no support at all (excluding possibly other family/friends). However, I think I would not choose to parent in this situation, as the financial situation wouldn't be great, I would potentially not have a home, I might have to stop my education meaning it would be harder to get a job, and I would be locked into a pretty new relationship at a very young age. I would feel beholden to my boyfriend and his family for supporting me, which could easily end up with me feeling trapped in the relationship and/or relying on my boyfriend's family for the welfare of my child.

The fact that I hadn't even considered the question of parenting confirms for me that it would not be a good time for me to do this and it would not be fair on a potential child.

I'd probably opt for abortion, and hope it would be early enough that my parents wouldn't have to find out I was pregnant and that I wouldn't lose my home. Obviously, not telling my parents would not be ideal, but it doesn't sound like I'd be able to support myself easily if I got kicked out. I think I'd be honest with my boyfriend about it as I wouldn't want to be in a relationship based on a lie. (Easily said, but I'd probably end up feeling pretty alone.) I would try and seek out what support I could find, maybe counselling if I needed & could afford it.

I think I would not choose to go the adoption route, as I don't know if at 16 I'd be able to cope with pregnancy and birth, especially if I got kicked out.


In the second scenario, I think I would also choose to abort. Choosing to parent sounds like it would be incredibly difficult for the whole family, and I'd end up losing the chance to go back into education, and I'd have the burden of the childcare mostly by myself. Having the unconditional support of my partner here makes the choice easier. It doesn't sound like I really want to have another child, and it doesn't seem like I could give a third child a very good life.

I think I'd not want to go for adoption here either, because going through pregnancy and birth would again take a toll on me and my family which would be difficult to cope with.


In the third instance, again I think I'd go with abortion. Even if I might be able to get help from my parents in funding/raising a child, it's not an ideal situation financially - I'd rather be financially independent and know that I would able to support a child myself. I would not want all my hard work at college to be wasted, and I'd be in a much better position to support future children if I had qualifications. Although I do perhaps want a child at some point, I still have time to do that in the future.

Re: the situation with my ex, it sounds like I'd end up either single-parenting (which although doable is not something I'd take on lightly) or having to accommodate an unreliable co-parent. I could choose to parent but not tell my ex, but I don't know how I'd feel about that ethically. (And I'm not sure about the legal situation there either, as to whether he has a legal right to know.)

Adoption here would be difficult too, as if I chose to give birth, my education would still be messed up, and again, I'd have the issue of whether to tell my ex.

I think abortion is what I would choose here as I do have my parents' support, and I'd be in a better position to parent later on if that was still what I wanted.


Er, sorry for writing so much, there's so much to consider. And even making these decisions on paper is not easy. After I'd read them I just sat there for a while thinking about all the different factors.

Again, thanks for posting this.

[ 01-22-2010, 04:12 PM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Ecofem
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To me, it all really depends on whether or not these women WANT to continue the pregnancy and look into parenting. The way I read these scenarios is that I see really just the negatives of continuing the pregnancy; granted, this very exercise is about dealing with pregnancies that are not 100% planned and wanted! So, I'd probably go for choosing the abortion in all situations.

However, I grew up in a low-income home with many children who were had after age 37, although there was a high level of education (and we all went to college, too), free health care, and we were all very much wanted. So, issues like age and income don't affect me in the same way they may another person from a different background; that said, if I were in that very situation, it clearly seems like abortion would be the right choice for me.

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Heather
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Just to be clear on the exercise: the way to do this, is to make yourself BE these women.

In other words, that one is you, so is that one, so is that one. So, if you put yourself into these scenarios -- any or all of them -- AS yourself, with your own feelings and thoughts, but in that situation, what would you choose?

Also to be clear, I would not describe these things as the negatives, but rather as typical challenges in making choices as well as helps. For instance, I included where support was in the scenarios (which is usually the biggest benefit/positive in any choice scenario we find ourselves in), as well as what challenges might be posed. You'll also see that one woman had more education than another, etc. If all that was posted there looks like negatives, perhaps take a second look?

(Or, explain to me what positives might be inserted you think were missing?)

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Ecofem
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Sorry to make it sound like I was just seeing negatives there! I wasn't saying there were positives missing but rather the bottom line for me would be: Do I want to continue the pregnancy and parent (because I wouldn't be interested in adoption)? If that were the case, then I'd consider it worth dealing with the challenges; if not, then it wouldn't be. I know that sounds oversimplified but I'm not doing a very good job expressing myself here so I'll leave this exercise to other users. It's a really interesting activity, for sure! [Smile]
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Heather
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I'm going to go ahead and take a spin with this one myself, if that's okay.

With #1 (16): I'd first go ahead and take the time to think about if I do want kids in my life, since I hadn't before. But I think even if I decided that I did, my best choices would feel like adoption or abortion. Looking at the whole situation per parenting, I think I'd feel like I was building a trap for myself and a kid, especially with a partner whose support seemed so conditional on this.

However, with my parents being that way, even if I feel good about adoption, that seems like a pretty problematic choice for me, so unless I felt strongly enough about adoption vs. abortion to tel them about it, and potentially risk being kicked out of the house, I would probably choose abortion, and would also be honest about it with my boyfriend. If he couldn't turn around and be supportive, I'd probably be the person doing the breaking up in the situation.

For #2 (37): This one, in my shoes, feels like a very clear abortion choice. I already know full well what parenting requires, and this scenario seems like it would be most likely to create strife for myself and the rest of my family than it would to be of benefit to myself and everyone else. I might also use this opportunity, too, given my age, to sit down with my spouse and really talk about if we wanted to have any more children, period, given my age, financial situation and the kids we have already. If we both felt it was a clear no, I'd probably also consider a permanent BC method for one of us after a termination.

#3 (23): This one feels the toughest for me, especially if I do want kids someday. For sure, the timing is crap with my schooling, but having that kind of support from family also doesn't happen every day. And since said ex seems to be a no-show, parenting without his input or support at all would probably be doable, especially if I told him I didn't want financial support, either (mind, I'm making this me, and while I know single parenting is tough, I also know it's doable and that co-parenting has challenges, too).

So, in this case, I'd probably do some homework first. I'd talk to my school and see what kinds of resources they might be able to offer me, and if they'd be willing to work with me during my pregnancy/birth/early parenting to make school still doable. After all, if I've been there this long, and am on a med school track, they might be up to helping me out. If it was workable, and I landed on feeling like I did really want to parent in my life, I'd probably go ahead and choose to stay pregnant and parent.

On the other hand, if school really didn't seem doable for parenting, but felt like it was for pregnancy, I'd talk to someone about open adoption.

In this scenario, abortion would probably be my last choice, something I'd probably only land on if the other two options were such with school-stuff that it was just impossible to finish school.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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eryn_smiles
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I thought I would talk about just the third scenario. It's easiest to imagine for me because this woman is closest to my age and to my current social situation. It's a little hard because in the scenario, I think I might want to have kids someday. But in real life, I definately want to have kids one day.

Still, I am almost certain I would choose to remain pregnant and give birth and then to parent. It's really awesome that I have supportive parents myself who would help with costs and childcare. Although not so great that I can't rely on my ex for support and co-parenting. Either I would talk to the university about part-time schooling, or I would be willing to take at least a couple of years off school to be a full-time parent and then do my very best to get back to school.

(In my real life, I know four inspiring women who were/are single mums in med school. Three had kids prior to starting and one became pregnant during her training. One was aged around 35 with her kids in middle and early high school when she started med school. I can't fathom how hard it must be for her..but she's doing it. I don't think the word 'impossible' is in her vocabulary [Smile] )

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Kaydee
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#1 (age 16) - I would most likely get the abortion and hide it from my parents, but I would be straight up with the boyfriend. I say this because the situation is too uncertain to be a parent in, there isn't much in it that is stable and I wouldn't want to put a child or myself through that. If my "boyfriend" couldn't support my choice and at least try to be understanding I know our relationship wouldn't work in the long run anyway.

#2 (age 37) I also feel like I would choose abortion in this situation. I feel that it would be unfair to the family that I have already, even though I'm sure everyone would love the new child. The lack of financial stability and the hard parenting situation that would be presented would make me not want to carry the pregnancy to term. I would want to be able to give my children all the love and time I can, not that I wouldn't be able to do that if another child was involved, but I feel like things in that situation are strained enough as is.

#3 (age 23) This one is really hard. I do think I would carry the pregnancy to term. I would be so close to done with school, and with the supportive environment that my parents provide I feel I would be able to do it. Of course I would have to look at other things and make a realistic plan as to how things could work out with me going to college but I feel like I would keep the baby unless there was something big and nearly impossible to over come keeping me from finishing school. I wouldn't like the situation with the father, but it isn't the baby's fault and because the father isn't endangering me or the baby in anyway here I wouldn't get an abortion for that reason.

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Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. - Albert Einstein

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treetops
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Really interesting reading others' perspectives on the third situation.

I too am around that age and in education, so I can imagine being in that situation. One reason I would not choose to parent is because, although in the scenario my parents have offered to help out, I know that my parents have their own plans; they are looking forward to their retirement and have worked incredibly hard and saved enough money to be able to enjoy it. If I were to parent, I would have to move back home to take advantage of their childcare offer. I'd also be using up the money they'd saved for their retirement.

Essentially, in that situation, although I agree with what someone else said (that I would be unlikely to get that kind of support at another time in my life) I feel like that might be a pretty selfish reason for me to go ahead and parent, as it would be at my parents' expense. If I'm only 23 I potentially have plenty of time to parent at a time when I wouldn't be impacting on someone else's life plans to do it.
I'm pretty sure my parents *would* offer their support in this situation, as they would want to do the best for me, but I know that it would probably have a large negative impact on their lives. That's not something I'd want on my conscience.

Of course, if I'm in a scenario where my folks have endless money to spare, that's a different matter, but for most people that's probably not the case.

(Obviously, this isn't meant to be judgemental of what others have said, it's just how I think I'd feel were I, and my family, in the situation.)

[ 01-27-2010, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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Michelle Ravel
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The third scenario is interesting me because the very same thing happened to my aunt over 30 years ago, but with one important difference: her partner, now my uncle, stuck around. With his, and my grandparent's, support, she was able to finish medical school. She said interning while having a young child was a bitch and she wouldn't have been able to do it if my uncle hadn't been willing to stay home with their son quite a bit.

I think that I would abort if I were woman one and three, but I'm not sure if I would as woman number two. I wonder, however, if I am seeing her situation through Canada-coloured glasses--I don't fully feel the fear of losing health care that woman two would be feeling.

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ChickFlick
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First situation? I'd have an abortion. If the boyfriend didn't support me he isn't worth my time to begin with. So I'd live with him to mooch off until I disowned myself from my parents who kicked me out. Then I'd contact a local women's shelter so they could set me up with subsidized apartments. At that point I'd get an early abortion because later term abortions freak me out a bit. My boyfriend might kick me out, but frankly I wouldn't expect some high school relationship to last a long time anyway. And if I really needed him for resources and felt financially and emotionally cornered I'd wait to give up the kid. Otherwise with my mother's issues with psychosis I'd feel uncomfortable contributing to the Global gene pool.
Scenario Two? Totally get rid of it. Last thing I need on my plate is ANOTHER kid to worry about when there's mortgage, and college dues coming up. Honestly "IRL" I don't want children at all. I can only hope that birth control and responsible use of condoms prevent any pregnancies in my lifetime.
Scenario 3? Definitely abortion. The fact is I prioritize my career and education more than anything, and my chances of graduation diminish drastically once I'd give birth. I would honestly schedule an abortion with Planned Parenthood. If I needed cash I'd lie and ask my parents for book money since they're pro-life. And then I'd only tell my best friend about the abortion because my entire family is pro-life and DESPISES pre-marital sex.
I'm sure you noticed my preference for abortion.

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Kawani3792
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In the first scenario, I would carry the baby to term and give it up for adoption. Specifically, a friend of mine who, when I was 16, was 22 and finding out that she would never physically be able to have a child, despite being an aunt to ten children and an excellent person in general. She was trying to adopt, but is single and gay, which in that state causes difficulties. I'd tell my parents and hope for the best, and if I was kicked out of my home I would look for the nearest shelter, or I'd live with the boyfriend or the friend I mentioned. I would know that my baby would be cared for by someone who could provide a lot more for him/her than I could, and I would be able to watch him/her grow up in a big, loving, non-judgmental family.

My major reasons for making this decision are that I would not be able to parent, based on my lack of familial support, lack of a job, and so forth. If I had not physically known a person who would be an excellent parent and wanted to raise a child, I would have aborted. In this situation, I would not choose to parent.

In the second situation, I would abort, with the support of my husband, and depending on the ages of the children let them know something about the situation. What I would mention depends on the age of the children. If they were into their teenage years, I would probably tell them the truth, if they were younger than that I think I would be slightly more circumspect. They deserve to know, but my biggest concern is that one of the children would be either scared that I'd make them go away if we didn't have enough money, or that they would come up with "Well, I'll move into my sibling's room and not eat ice creams for a year and only drink water instead of soda, and then we can have enough money and room for the baby."

My biggest reasons are that I wouldn't feel right bringing another child into the world when I can't give it as much care and affection as it would need. I would hate for myself or spouse to have to take another job and not see our new baby that we're doing this for. If the pregnancy itself wouldn't be so difficult on me and my children (I know even teenagers who insist that they will take care of it and diaper it and feed it...I know this is in no way a real comparison, but it feels much like if I were to adopt a brand new puppy or kitten, only more difficult. Extra care would be necessary, the current children either look at it as a doll or an inconvenience...) I would carry it to term and give it up for adoption, but getting checkups and vitamins and having more difficulty getting around to care for the two children I have would be a concern. I would not choose to parent in this situation. It would cause too much of a drain on already-stretched finances and the economy is terrible as is.

In the third situation, I would have an abortion. I'm in college, the father is no use and I don't want to put that much of a strain on my parents. Giving the baby up for adoption would still entail surviving several months of college courses. Parenting would mean likely dropping out of school and living with my parents, at least until the baby is born. I would rather not put them through that financial hardship, also, having gained my independence, I'd rather not give it up. I might want children at a later date, but right now it would be a bad situation to bring a child into.

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LimeGreenLovexX
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#1
I think I would choose to have an abortion, although I would take into consideration that I should be more careful with birth control next time. Normally, without thinking about what it would be like for the person, I'd up and say adoption, but I can't say that now.

#2
In this situation, I believe I would choose adoption. I would find comfort in knowing that I could get WIC to help with vitamins, Dr. visits, ect. I would also choose and open adoption.

#3
In this case, I'd choose to stay pregnant and parent. I'd realize that yes, it's going to be hard but I'm close to finishing college and I can make a good life for my child. I'd also take advantage of WIC in this situation as well.

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