As pro-lifers, how should we approach teen pregnancy? On the one hand, it's important to keep teens informed about risks of pregnancy, ways to prevent pregnancy, and challenges they will face if they become pregnant. On the other hand, teens should know what resources are at their disposal during pregnancy and, at least as important, that choosing life is the right thing to do. We need to consider both pregnancy prevention and pregnancy support.
Balancing these can be tricky. It’s the same challenge parents face when they want to keep their teen from engaging in sex (often with good reasons) but also want their teen to know how to be safer if the teen does decide to have sex. Finding that balance isn’t always straightforward, but it's still necessary.
Consider the New York City Human Resource Administration (HRA) teen pregnancy prevention program in which ads will be displayed in subways and bus shelters citywide. The HRA site says:
HRA’s new Teen Pregnancy Prevention campaign shows the high costs teen pregnancy can have for both teen parents and their children. The campaign features ads with hard-hitting facts about the money and time costs of parenting, and the negative consequences of having a child before you are ready.
Obviously teen pregnancy isn’t a walk in the park. But people who advocate for messages like this:
don't seem concerned with how this affects the abortion rate. HRA intends these ads to be preventative, but how do they look to a teen who is already pregnant, or has already gotten someone pregnant?
Imagine a pregnant teen. She feels as if the rug has been pulled out from under her. She's completely frightened, and unsure where to turn. Will these ads encourage her to choose life?
Preventing abortion means preventing pregnancy and supporting mothers. Ad campaigns like this ignore half of the equation--probably because the goal is just to prevent birth. I understand trying to prevent pregnancy, but how can we do that while still supporting those who are already pregnant? What are the best methods to warn teens about the challenges of pregnancy without inadvertently pushing them to get abortions?