US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Being pro-young mothers

By Megan Sweas | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Back when I was in (public) high school, we had an interesting assignment for health class: We had to ask our parents, "What if I got pregnant?"

After laughing and saying that that would take a boy, my mom said that she and my dad would love and support both me and a child. Even though I was far from dating, I was comforted to hear this. Even though she was pro-choice politically, that didn't mean she would encourage her daughter to have an abortion.

We wouldn't have had that conversation, if it weren't for having a good health class. Unfortunately, many teenagers aren't forced to sit through incredibly uncomfortable lessons on sex, especially in schools with few resources for anything beyond academics. I doubt many teenage girls, or boys for the matter, have ever had such a conversation with their parents.

Meanwhile, the teenage pregnancy rate increased in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade, by 3 percent, Reuters reports. The Guttmacher Institute--which despite its connections to Planned Parenthood, is a reputable source of such data--connects this increase to the increased funding for abstinence-only education and the decrease in the pregnancy rate in the 1990s to increased contraception use among teenager.

But beyond the debate about sexual education in schools, this new increase offers a very personal challenge. As Sister Bernadette Reis, F.S.P., writes at Busted Halo, it challenges us to be not only "pro-life," but "pro-active."

Of course, being pro-active starts at home with conversations like the one my mom and I shared, but not everyone is lucky enough to have parents as good as mine. Are we willing to lend a hand rather than point a finger at the failures of other parents?

Can we share our love and support with these children, especially in minority communities where pregnancy and abortion rates are highest, before they even come close to getting pregnant? Can we give them the knowledge and confidence to help them not get into this situation? Do they know that we as a community or individuals will be there for them, no matter what?

Take a look at the "reasons for abortion" listed in Reis' article and the vast majority seem like issues that people could help a young mother through. I'm inspired by the story of her brother and sister-in-law taking in a single mother and her child.

It interesting to hear Reis, who says she personally only votes for pro-life candidates, put it this way: "What if our focus changed from a debate about the constitutionality of abortion--which requires very little personal sacrifice on our part--to directly helping the women who may potentially have an abortion?"