How Lani got the address for this blog, we may never know, but thankfully, she did. In response to my last post (on queens and their commitments to youth) she asks what I think about the Gloucester “Pregnancy Pact.” Well Lani, I think a lot of things.
For those who don’t know, in mid-may a high school in Gloucester Mass was faced with an enormous upsurge of student pregnancies. In a school that typically sees 3-4 pregnancies a year, the emergence of 10 pregnancies (mostly in girls under 16) prompted further investigation. Here’s where it gets a little sketchy: the principal, nurse, and childcare coordinator have all said that they were aware of a “pregnancy pact” in which many of the girls promised to get pregnant and raise their children together. The nurse recounts an unusual number of girls asking for pregnancy tests over the past school year and upon learning their results “high-fiving” each other in congratulations. I don’t know about you, but I high-fived my friends when I WASN’T pregnant. Since the story broke, everyone except the childcare coordinator has denied any assertion that such a pact was made, or well-known. AP
So, Who’s to blame? Well, lots of people, apparently. So far it’s the parents, the school, the local hospital that funds the school clinic (more on that later), and inevitably, popular media (namely, Jamie Lynn, Juno and Knocked up). I find it prudent to only touch on two out of the four.
The local hospital gives the school state money to fund the clinic. Two of the clinic workers had previously resigned in protest of the hospital’s refusal to provide money for safer sex supplies including birth control, condoms, and educational information. The principal has also gone on record to say that a lack of access to birth control is *not* the issue here. (I beg to differ…)
On to my favorite, popular media. I never saw Knocked up, but I did see Juno. When it came out, and was quickly followed by the younger Spears’ (seemingly) immaculate conception, I had a lot of feelings about the attitudes toward unexpected pregnancy that were becoming increasingly pervasive (read: persuasive). Young women, finding themselves pregnant, inevitably chose to follow to term and keep their babies. GT
Lets get one thing straight before I go any farther. I’m all for babies. I love ‘em. I want some, bad. I do. I’m not going to hide the fact that I want to pump out some munchkins, and I’d like to do it sooner rather than later. However, should I become pregnant tomorrow, there’s no way anyone could convince to me not to terminate. And I’m 23! For all intents and purposes, I’m at my prime for baby making. I am not, however, in any sort of “prime” in terms of financial stability or familial closeness/support.
So Juno and Jamie Lynn pop onto the scene, with many other examples, I’m sure. They are young women opting to follow to term and it is framed, as always, as the morally responsible and correct decision to make. At a point in the movie, Juno goes to a clinic, seemingly, to terminate the pregnancy. While in the waiting room she comes to the inexplicable decision, not to have the abortion, but to carry the child and put it up for adoption. It is, as I’ve said, inexplicable. Nothing indicates why she has made this split second decision, only that she has, and is now running from the clinic as fast as she can. It is indicated that a moral/ethical trigger was set off in her brain. “Something” told her that she shouldn’t do it. I’m still wondering what that “something” was.
As for Jamie Lynn, the sweeter than apple pie kid sister of Britney Spears, she becomes pregnant by her high school boyfriend. After about 25 seconds of moral outrage from the public, pictures of her shopping for carriages and diapers start flooding the interwebs to coos of “adorable!”, “So Sweet!” (Ew. Gross.) Not to mention, Jamie Lynn has got quite a chunk of change to support said child, and recently purchased her own house in her native Louisiana. This is NOT, by any means, your average teen pregnancy situation. But still, her “condition” received mass publicity and commentary heralding the mature decision to keep her baby.
So do these, seemingly, positive images of youth pregnancy influence such cases as in Gloucester? Who knows, really. What I do know, is that these images seek to moralize abortion and stratify decision making into good vs. evil. If nothing else, this has its impact.
So, i get to work this morning and pick up the paper. Page two, headline: “States Turn Down U.S. Abstinence Education Grants.” Currently, only 28 states are accepting federal money to fund their sex education programs, and the article tells us that two more are pulling out. The federal money received, while generous (to say the least), must be used to institute abstinence only curricula, as defined by the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. $50 million dollars have been budgeted for this year alone. Lovely, no? But all in all, the news is good! States are rejecting federal funding because the programs are costing them more money in the long run (pregnant teens are not cheap). Hurray! HP
So, what *is* the issue here? Young women are becoming pregnant and a heated game of pass the blame is being played. Blame the parents, blame the schools, blame the girls themselves, blame the media! Blame them all! Either way, no one is telling these girls to HAVE ABORTIONS, because that, my friends, would be morally wrong. And that, folks, is what teen pregnancy is currently about in this country: morals and ethics.
After all that, it seems that nothing has changed.
What do you think, Lani?