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MTV’s No Easy Decision Segment Gives Abortion A Human Face

MTV’s No Easy Decision Segment Gives Abortion A Human Face

When learning that MTV’s popular show 16 and Pregnant would take on the issue of abortion in a special episode, I felt two very strong emotions – hope and unease.

Hope because I felt it could be one of those changing moments in time – a moment that although small could change the dialogue surrounding abortion by giving it a human face.

Unease because I feared what impact telling their stories would have on these brave, brave young women.

Well, after having just watched the episode, I have to say that I am in complete awe of the three young women who shared their stories with us tonight.

I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to make the decision they did and then to share that choice with the world as they did tonight. My hat is off to them and I feel hopeful that their stories will change some minds or at the very least create more understanding around the choice of abortion. 

James and Markai: Choosing Abortion

One out of 4 teen moms will have a repeat birth within two years.

Such was the case for James and Markai, a couple who had previously appeared on 16 and Pregnant. Despite their unplanned pregnancy, the couple was able to finish high school, begin saving for college, and even move in together.

However, after Markai missed a birth control shot, she found out she was pregnant for a second time. The couple had not been using condoms. Confronted with another unplanned pregnancy, Markai and James had a big decision to make. 

So many teen moms who choose abortion do so in secret. Luckily, Markai had the support of many people in her life while making this decision. After discussing her options – parenting, adoption, or abortion – with her partner James, close friends, an abortion counselor, and her mother, Markai made the choice to have an abortion.

James helped Markai weigh the consequences a second child would have on their family. Her close friend Samarra and mother provided her with support and comfort, and the abortion counselor she called provided her with the information she needed to make an informed decision in a non-judgmental manner. 

In making her decision, it is clear that Markai took into consideration the needs of her partner, her baby, herself and her entire family’s future.  You see her struggle with the decision, weighing all her options, but she ultimately decides that abortion is the best choice for her family.

James: “And it’s like. I mean it’s not only setting us up to fail [having the baby], but on top of that setting up our kids to fail and that’s one thing I’m never going to do.”

Markai: “Let’s be real. We can’t take care of another baby. It’s not an easy decision but it’s the best.”

The Shame of Abortion
Two years after having an abortion, Dr. Drew tells Markai that most women feel like they have made the right decision.

When he asks Markai if she feels she made the right decision, she says, “I have mixed emotions right now. I’m still confused. It hasn’t been long enough for me to really comprehend or understand…”

But Dr. Drew assures her that feeling confused is normal and part of the process to which Markai responds, “I think society puts a lot of that on you.”

Bingo! The shame and stigma associated with abortion makes the choice that much more difficult for women to choose or even talk about, but the women who make this choice don’t do so only thinking of themselves.

Markai: “I just want my baby (her first child, Zacary) to grow up happy and to have a better life. Nobody ever wants to have an abortion. No one is pro-abortion. No one puts abortion first…but you have to do what is right.”

Natalia’s Story: A Responsible Choice

Natalia, another women who appeared in the MTV special, found out she was pregnant when she was 17 years old. She was in a state that required parental involvement for an abortion, so she petitioned a court to get a judicial bypass, which she was granted.

Not wanting to disappoint her parents or make them sad, Natalia and her ex-boyfriend were on their own (they had broken up a month before she found out she was pregnant). Together they came up with the $750 for the abortion.

When asked how she felt about her decision, Natalia says “I’m not ashamed at all. I’m proud of what I did!” It was the “responsible choice” to make.

Shame and irresponsibility are often the adjectives we hear when abortion is discussed, so it was refreshing to see the decision described as the opposite.

Katie’s Story: A Parenting Decision

Katie, the third woman who appeared on the MTV special, found out she was pregnant the summer before her senior year of college and coincidentally two weeks before her 18-year-old sister had given birth to her first child.

When asked how she felt after her abortion, Katie says she was relieved and did not feel a lot of regret or negative feelings. She does recognize the “sentimental” aspect when being around her nephew and thinking “what if?” but she knew she made the right decision.

Katie also remarks that her decision to have an abortion was a “parenting decision.” It wasn’t something she did to have “an easy way out,” but a decision she made taking into consideration the needs of her unborn child.

Katie notes how important it is for her to share her story because dialogue surrounding abortion as a “parenting decision” does not exist.

Lasting Thoughts

Each year, approximately 750,000 teens get pregnant in the United States and nearly a third chose abortion, but we never hear their stories.

The heavy stigma our society places on anyone who touches abortion – the women who make the decision to terminate, the doctors who provide the procedures, the activists who fight to keep this right alive – makes it virtually impossible to honestly discuss abortion from a personal perspective. That’s why MTV’s special tonight was so important.

The courage, honesty, and strength Markai, James, Natalia and Katie showed tonight was awe-inspiring. Making the decision to have an abortion is a complex decision made even more complicated when you consider the shame and secrecy surrounding the procedure. Women need a space to share their stories to break down these walls and make abortion a truly viable option for women.

Did you watch No Easy Decision? What did you think about it?

Resources:

www.itsyoursexlife.com

www.4exhale.org

Related from Care2:

MTV’s 16 and Pregnant Takes on Abortion: One Reason Why

Racist Ant-Abortion Campaign Targets Autism

Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low

 

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165 comments

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8:40AM PST on Jan 21, 2014

Noted.

2:43PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

I had an abortion in the late 70's when I was in college because my birth control failed. I used to wonder what my child would be like if I had made a different decision but ultimately believe I did the right thing. I had no way to support a child and didn't want to go the adoption route. By the way, the clinic I went to strongly pushed the adoption option at me and didn't perform the procedure the same day as a "cooling off" period. I was counseled and then returned the next day. Each person has to decide what is right for them and their circumstances.

7:45AM PST on Feb 10, 2011

I didn't watch the episode, but the telling of the story was very poignant and real. I'm very proud that these young people told their stories in an effort to open up the dialogue, possibly helping other young women who are weighing their options.

As one said, no one is for abortion, but one must be realistic about life choices. Shame is put on by segments of the society, instead of trying to help.

12:58PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

These women and teenage girls are very brave for telling their stories. Abortion isn't something people just wake up and decide to do today. It's given a lot of thought, and the process of making that decision is often heartbreaking for them. I might not like abortion per se, but it's because of the stories these women have that I think abortion has to stay legal for the first trimester.

8:16PM PST on Jan 13, 2011

Definitely more dialogue needs to exist in regard to abortion being a "parenting decision." Once pregnant, these are the questions and concerns each individual needs to explore. It is an individual private decision to be conducted by the key players only, those who will have the responsibility of parenting. These are the only people who can assess what emotional, physical and financial resources will be available to nuture a baby into adulthood. They are the only ones capable of assessing their values and religious beliefs surrounding their decision. Those who do not bare the responsibility of parenting the child need to concentrate on their own lives, which are always in need of attention. Make the world a better place for those who choose to parent. For those who find it not the right time, accept that it is their choice. Even the choice to not hold their body captive in order to place an unwanted baby up for adoption.

There is an African tribe that allows the decision of when to parent left solely to the women of the tribe. They get to determine when it is a healthy and good time to introduce life into that community. Their personal wisdom is honored and respected. They understand what it is to parent and when the time is right. That is true awareness of the sanctity of life and acknowledgement of "there is a time to be born."

11:43AM PST on Jan 10, 2011

Thanks.

4:34PM PST on Jan 8, 2011

The logic is very strange. Instead of giving the child a chance to live his or her life, they act like they know that the kid will have a bad life. So they just kill it.

"Let's be real. We can't take care of another baby. "

Give it up for adoption. Killing an innocent human being is never a responsible decision.

8:00AM PST on Jan 6, 2011

I find it so very amusing that the same station that promotes teenage sex, drug use, and all around disrespect for ones self is having this discussion. I will block this channel from my TV when my daughter gets a bit older and if TV continues on the way it is I'll probably not even have one in my home! I think we also need to really TALK with our children they are people too with thoughts feelings characteristics and all. If we treat them with respect and keep them informed of how to live a productive happy life I believe we can avoid allot of these problems. MTV is not the complete cause of children behaving badly but they certainly don't help! While flipping threw channels I saw a preview for a upcoming show and in this one commercial I saw kids talking about "tits" drinking and drug use. I mean common what are we letting the next generation be? A bunch of kids with kids that have no positive parental influence to help understand all the negative media blitz that's constantly shoved in their face; not to mention the pressures of even being a kid today. Listen to your children, pay attention to what they're doing, and help guide them in this world in a positive way cause they really need your support as parents.

7:19AM PST on Jan 6, 2011

Ironic that birth control which seemed to solve the problem of women being able to have control of their bodies created another social problem. More programs like this need to be produced.

9:46PM PST on Jan 5, 2011

I'm so proud of these girls and boys who were able to make the right decision and not to let the dogma of society force them into taking a route that they knew they couldn't take. They are truly heroes and heroines for giving a brave, responsible face to abortion. I hope many girls who saw this episode can take courage from the stories of these young people.

And Brian, any person who has to terminate a baby is going to have regrets. You clearly got the wrong message, probably because you already had your opinion formed or didn't read the whole article. They all acknowledged that it neither feels good nor is the first choice, but the right one. Get your head on straight. Just because a mistake has been made doesn't mean that there is no responsible way to deal with it.

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