The Internet: Your #1 source for terrible advice on teen pregnancy
I was a member of an internet forum for women who are trying to get pregnant. The other day someone posted a new thread titled, “Help! 16 and Maybe Pregnant!”
I took a deep breath and clicked on it. I knew what I was going to find. And I wasn’t wrong.
I found the girl’s story, which was pretty much what you’d expect: had unprotected sex with her boyfriend, period late, scared to tell parents…the usual.
Then I found two days’ worth of posts by grown, adult women urging the girl to tell her parents or, if she didn’t feel like she could trust her parents, another trusted adult. Every single post urged the girl, if she ended up not being pregnant, to make sure and use condoms and/or birth control pills in the future.
One woman, a health care professional, told the girl she was old enough to get contraception on her own, and urged her to do so.
Almost every single post mentioned Planned Parenthood as the ultimate safe haven, a place where she could get a free pregnancy test and talk to someone about her “options.” I probably saw the word “options” about 30 times in that thread.
So I took another deep breath and became the lone voice crying in the wilderness. I told the girl that she certainly had options, but if she is indeed pregnant, she is a mother. Forever. No matter what happens after this. Her only choice is what kind of mother she is going to be.
I was the first person, the first adult woman, to suggest that this girl stop having sex.
I was also the first person to mention a pregnancy center. I told her that unlike Planned Parenthood, their services are absolutely free: free pregnancy test, free ultrasound, free help with absolutely anything she needs help with, from abusive parents or boyfriends to a job to a place to live to adoption placement to baby clothes. All free.
I told her she was getting a lot of bad advice, and was going to get more before all this was over.
I told her about my awesome friend Destiny, who got pregnant at 16, gave birth to an amazing little boy at 17, and went on to become a wife and mother of four and total badass. I told her not all teen moms are worthy of MTV reality shows. I told her that if she is indeed pregnant and chooses life, her life will be harder but better. I told her lots of women (probably most women) regret their abortions, but I’ve yet to meet a woman who regrets her child.
As you can probably imagine, my post was not a popular one. It became more and more clear that the women of this board were more interested in showcasing their progressivism than actually helping the girl. They seemed to be in competition to out-snark each other, to show how worldly they were in their increasingly hostile responses to my message. I was called “unreasonable,” “naive,” and “dense.” “Down here in the real world,” one post began, “we recognize that teenagers don’t sit around and read the bible. They have S-E-X.”
Over here in Logic Land, we recognize that S-E-X exists for the express purpose of making babies, and divorcing S-E-X from said purpose leads to unwanted babies.
This incident made me think hard about how brilliant Planned Parenthood’s marketing has been. They truly are synonymous with affordable, helpful gynecological care to many women in this country. And that is completely terrifying.
I wasn’t so much surprised by what I read as I was surprised by the uniformity of thought. I guess I figured that on a board consisting entirely of women trying to get pregnant, at least one would pipe up for the unborn child in this scenario. But they didn’t.
I never responded to the thread again, and neither did the original poster. I’ve prayed for her and her possible baby ever since. Maybe the fact that my post was so different from the others made it stand out to her. Or maybe not. I’ll probably never know.
This foray into the world of internet forums was a pretty new one for me, but I think I’ve lost my stomach for it. It’s hard to discuss my fertility struggles with these people, knowing the majority of them share the sick opinion that only “wanted” babies deserve to live.