Teen Mom

As+abortion+continues+to+be+a+topic+of+discussion+in+the+Nation%2C+sources+reflect+on+their+rights+and+what+they+believe+is+just.

Alexa Druyanoff

As abortion continues to be a topic of discussion in the Nation, sources reflect on their rights and what they believe is just.

When she became a mother at 17 as the result of an unplanned pregnancy, Jenna Ronan’s life changed course completely. After she first found out the big news, Ronan was so overwhelmed with embarrassment that she went through most of the pregnancy completely on her own, hiding the secret from everyone in her life. The COVID-19 pandemic began when she was three months pregnant, and she suddenly felt even more isolated than before. Now, Ronan has 97.2K followers on TikTok with an account centered on her motherhood journey, as well as a similar presence on Instagram. She lives with her son and boyfriend in Pennsylvania in their own home.

According to the Pew Research Center, teenage motherhood rates have halved between 2008 and 2018. The abortion rate for pregnant teenagers has also been declining since the 1980s, while use of birth control has increased.

At the same time, teenage pregnancies have become a common theme in the entertainment industry. “Gilmore Girls,” a fictional TV show from the 2000s which is still popular today, chronicles the lives of teen mom Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory as they both navigate their maturation.

From 2009 to 2014, MTV aired “16 and Pregnant,” a reality TV show focused on pregnant high school girls’ experiences and hardships. On the other hand, “Unpregnant,” a movie released in 2020, centers on a pregnant girl’s roadtrip across the country in search of an abortion.

Ronan said she considered abortion as well as adoption during her pregnancy. She said her mother even made her an abortion appointment, but her father’s threats of kicking her out if she proceeded were part of what convinced her to keep her baby.

Now that she has already experienced motherhood, Ronan said she would not have an abortion.

“I enjoy being a mother and I’m no longer scared of it,” Ronan said. “However, I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to decide what a woman does with her body. If a woman doesn’t want to become a mother, then no one should make her. I don’t think abortion should be a form of birth control, though.”

Ronan also said becoming a teenage mother helped her understand those who did choose abortion.

“Before I became pregnant and had to make a choice, I thought abortion was horrible,” Ronan said. “I looked down on anyone I knew who had one, but being a teen mom changed my perspective.”

On September 1, 2021, Texas passed a law banning abortions after cardiac activity is detectable, which is about six weeks into pregnancy.

There are no exceptions for rape or in- cest-caused pregnancies, and the law allows any citizen to sue someone who helps a woman to obtain an abortion, according to NPR. According to the New York Times, the majority of Texans believe that abortion should be legal, but only under a few circumstances. Most Americans are reported to have a similar opinion.

A college junior in Texas, Regan Vaughan, said she felt personally affected by the new abortion ban in her state. In addition, Vaughan said she thinks the law could force many young girls to become parents before they are ready for the responsibility of raising a child.

“Mental health struggles could occur for both the child and the woman, and a rise in the number of children placed in an already broken and inadequate foster care system could be another issue.”

Vaughan also said victims of rape or incest should not be forced to carry, deliver and take care of a baby that is a product of their trauma, and that women and girls whose lives are threatened by pregnancy should be able to protect their own lives over the life of a fetus or embryo. Tim* (a Harvard-Westlake student) said his opinion on abortion changed after speaking to multiple women who had abortions and then regretted them. He said a young girl’s decision about what to do during an unplanned pregnancy depends entirely on her situation. He also said he is more supportive of abortions in cases of teenage pregnancy than grown adults who did not consider the consequences of unprotected sex.

“If you have loving parents,and are in a relationship that is healthy and supportive, I would suggest bringing [the baby] to term, and if it does not work out, [adoption] is always an option,” Tim said. “I know a number of people who were the result of a teenage pregnancy, but turned out fine, still have super loving parents, and are happy. I do not think abortion is the best option but [in many situations] it is viable.”

Tim said he thinks the Texas abortion ban is too extreme, and he would prefer a ban on abortion after three months of pregnancy. He said he considers abortion to be more immoral at this time due to the increased devolopment of the baby.On the other hand, John, from Prolife.com in Redondo Beach, said he agrees with the new laws in Texas, and believes every baby in the womb must be protected. John said he has spoken to many women who had abortions as teenagers, and although they at first felt relieved to be free from the stigma and difficulty of teenage mother-
hood, they later considered their abortion to be the worst decision they ever made.

“Many of the women I have spoken to felt immense pressure to have an abortion as a teen- ager, whether it be from their parents, their boyfriend, or from the society they felt would shame them as a teen mom,” John said. “I want teenage girls to know that there are thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers around America, and they will help girls with telling their parents and boyfriend, finding a job while pregnant, and even with paying their rent.”

Jenna Ronan said she believes a woman can be a good mother at any age. Ronan also said she wants girls to know being a teen mom does not mean they can not be successful in oth-
er areas of their lives.

“Use your baby as motivation to succeed and love your baby endlessly,” Ronan said. “Remember you are a mom over everything now, and motherhood is the most important job.”