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

Note from Aspen Baker, chair of Care2 Causes content partner Exhale, which has provided the first and only national, non-judgmental post-abortion talk line. Exhale has partnered with MTV to publicize stories from young women who have had abortions. On December 28, 2010, MTV airs a special episode of the popular “16 & Pregnant” showing three young women and their stories. Exhale, as part of its pro-voice movement, launched the “16 & Loved” campaign last week to make sure the women sharing their stories feel the unconditional love and support they deserve from around the world. 

The following is a personal story from Exhale speakers bureau member Mayah Frank on her own experiences with abortion, and what the MTV special means to her.

When I was 18 I found myself broke, in an unstable relationship, about to start college and suddenly pregnant. My partner and I discussed back and forth as to what to do. I either wanted an abortion or adoption and he wanted an abortion or parenthood. I was unsure of what the “right” thing to do was, but I ultimately came to the decision that having a baby was not the path I wanted to take myself down. I made the appointment to have an abortion.

Just after the procedure I felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders, as the all the drama of the decision period was finally over. As months went on, I had to grapple with a whole range of emotions. At times I felt grateful and happy that I made the best decision for me, but I also faced the painful loss of a potential child. I found that there was little room for public discussion when it came to my feelings, and that no one in the medical field had really even warned me about the emotional side of choosing abortion. I felt very isolated and weighted with this decision–one that had completely changed my life, and yet I had no one to talk to about it.

I knew that millions of women went through this, but only heard politicians and activists in public debate talking about abortion in the abstract. I never heard real women speaking out from their own experience. In my research to find healing, I basically got the message that I had two categories I should fit in; either feel zero regret, forget about it and move on, or be completely repentant and seek out God’s forgiveness. I didn’t identify with either of these. I felt pain over my decision–but knew if I had to, do it again I would.

After much self reflection, I found a non-biased self-help book on dealing with the psychological upheaval of abortion. Then I was put in touch with Exhale, a non-judgmental talk line and private online community for women who’ve had abortions to connect with each other and share their stories. With this website I was suddenly in touch with all these women who were going through the same thing I was. They were feeling a whole range of emotions and growing from them and supporting each other. My ultimate healing and empowerment came from this ability to support other women, and share my own story in a place where people would actually take the time to listen. I learned that I wasn’t alone and felt the presence of a community backing me up.

I think that MTV’s “No Easy Decision” is so important because it is putting real women’s faces on a topic that is often discussed from an outside perspective–it will give them the microphone. This special is also important in that it may be a platform for talking about abortion in a way that acknowledges the full experience and can bring people together with open minds and hearts instead of dividing them on this challenging topic.

To learn more about Exhale’s “16 & Loved” campaign, please visit and join blogging stars Jessica Valenti, Lynn Harris, Care2 blogger Shelby Knox & more in conversation as they live-blog the show.

by Mayah Franck


Susan L.
Susan L.7 years ago

Mayah Frank, thank you for accepting the mike and for sharing your experience and perspective! Honest and brave-your story and the stories of others should always be at the core of abortion dialogue.

Elizabeth Rodriguez
Beth rodriguez7 years ago

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.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago


Kelly Levans
Kelly Levans7 years ago

This sounds really great. Being able to talk to people who share the same experience is wonderful.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan7 years ago

Sadly some teens feel that they have no-one to talk to about sex and contraception and as a result believe many things that aren't true.

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik7 years ago

I don't think that I ever said that all Teen Moms families were dysfunctional nor that "normal: families teens didn't get pregnant. I was specifically addressing EGinger's admonition that teen Moms were effective at raising children, so they should not have abortions. I also addressed the idea that in a time of birth control, no one should ever end up pregnant.
The best defense is to keep an open line of communication between kids & their parents. For parents to talk to their kids, for complete sex ed (& I am not sure why you think that videos would be part of a fear based education). The fact is that people are people & what affects one kid often does not affect the others. YOU DO HAVE TO KNOW YOUR CHILDREN.
It is true that many parents do prefer to keep their heads in the sand & to "heaven forbid" talk with them about SEX but I was not aware that this conversation was about that. It was specific to abortion & all my comments were directed to that end.
I do know what I am talking about when I talk about attachment disorder. Read up on it.

Susana Francisco
Susana Francisco7 years ago

Glenna Jones-kachtik:
Some teen moms don't do a good job raising their child. But it is equally true that some so-called adult moms don't do a good job either. I'm sorry but that's not an argument in my opinion. It's the parents responsibility, not only the teen's. Education should come from the parents, and even though it should come from the school too, some parents won't allow it when it comes to sex education. And not every teen mom's family is dysfunctional. In fact I see more girls from "normal" families getting pregnant than from dysfunctional families. For the reasons I said before, many parents prefer to pretend sex doesn't exist because their "little babies" are too young to know about that stuff. People need to be educated, not to be brainwashed that just because they're a certain age they won't be a good parent. And a good education is based in information, not in brainwashing or fear.

Susana Francisco
Susana Francisco7 years ago

Deborah Weinischke:
Videos? Seriously? I watched some videos back in high school. Guess what, it didn't stop me from doing anything. And it certainly wasn't the thing that made me more responsible and careful. I've always been so because I seeked education by myself from a very young age and because schools here help a bit. Not much but it is better than nothing. Resposibility in these issues come from the parents and schools. As long as sex education is seen as inappropriate and undesirable at school (by parents who most times pretend sex just doesn't exist because their kids are "too young" to know that stuff) teens are not gonna understand they need to be responsible. And they won't understand the consequences of unresponsible sex (and I'm not just talking about pregnancy). Now, I'm not saying the competitions between girls are fun and healthy and right. But the videos, an education based in fear won't work, and it may do more harm than good to some people. Try education based in information, not fear.

Elgrit B.

Anything and anybody who can teach people the "Perils" of being pregnant under the wrong circumstances should be commended. Many people never get to find out what really goes on during and afterwards and have no idea. They should be taught and if they learn, that is great.

Lidia F.
Lidia E F7 years ago

It is a good concept that will educate young girls.I am pro-choice.