Criminalizing abortion would endanger unprepared teenagers

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


I remember when my mother called, and reminded me it had been months since my previous menstrual cycle. I dismissed her implied accusation, but beneath my calm, I felt a storm beginning to swirl inside. To ease my worry, I decided to take a pregnancy test the next morning. The test came back positive, my worst fear confirmed.

Later that day, when I was sitting uncomfortably in seventh period, I felt sudden, powerful cramps strike my abdomen. I went to the nurse’s office. Tears were welling. I took a deep breath and did my best to tell the story, first describing the pregnancy test I had taken that morning, and concluding with the cramping I had been experiencing. “I’m scared.”

“I’m going to write down a few clinics in the area for you.” She clicked her pen and tore a new sticky note from the stack. I wondered what that doctors visit would be like? Would I receive confirmation I was pregnant?

She passed me the paper. “This is the type of thing that can make a girl start a revolution. You’ve been through something now, just like what all those women out there fighting for their right to choose have experienced. No matter what happens here, this pain I can see you feeling—you can use that. You can help someone else in the same shoes.” I stood up, my eyes still locked with hers.

I wasn’t pregnant, but if it turned out I had been, I am certain what decision I would have made. Without that grant of free choice, I would have been a mother. I wish it wasn’t such a common decision women have to face, but in reality, there are plenty of girls out there who have had to get abortions. Women have the ability to make their own choices and define their own lives…currently.

My experience is not unique. Teenage girls at Wilson and plenty of other high schools have been shocked by a false positive or have had to get an abortion. This issue is too big and too consuming to be a decision. Legal abortion simply must exist.

Three in 10 American girls become pregnant before age 20; that’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies a year. Without the option of abortion, there would be an extreme addition to our population, and depression in mothers who do not desire the job.

Understand that the overwhelming feelings that are delivered along with a positive pregnancy test are not meant for high-school girls. Know that girls who decide to get an abortion if it is illegal will have to overdose on pills that are not recommended for pregnant women, or destroy the cells with a coat hanger, both of which are incredibly painful and dangerous approaches. Recognize that despite whatever law is in place, abortions are always possible. The only thing that is up for debate is how safe the methods are; the only decision the law controls is how many people get hurt in the process.