There is a high cost for teens who choose to continue a pregnancy against the wishes of their parents, friends and society. This was revealed on SBS television’s Insight programme last week, focusing on teen pregnancy.

Of the teen mothers interviewed, not one of their parents wanted them to continue the pregnancy initially. Most were pressured to have an abortion, not only by parents, but by peers and professionals. The young women also shared about intense, cruel and unrelenting bullying both online via social media and in person.

“Everyone was telling me, you’ve ruined your life!” said Ebony, who became pregnant when she was 15. “Where is my choice for me? Where is the choice for my baby?”

Mollie was 15 when she discovered she was pregnant. She recalled the reaction of her mother who screamed and told her to get an abortion.

Nikki, who features on our Not Born Yet ads, was pregnant at 17 and had just moved to Australia from the Phillipines two weeks prior. Her mum Bernadette shared frankly about her own reaction.

“We come from a culture where reputation was very important… I was thinking, what do I do? How can I protect my child? Her pregnancy was like a disease that needed to be cured.”

Her attitude changed very quickly when she accompanied Nikki to her ultrasound, which was to determine the method of abortion.

“The technician said, grandma, there’s your grandchild!” pointing out the strongly beating heart.

Consistent amongst the teen parents being interviewed was their strength of resolve. These are brave young women and men who have endured the scorn of peers and strangers who referred to them as sluts and losers because they wouldn’t toe the cultural line. And despite often appalling lack of support (one young woman is trying to complete year 11 at a school that offers no concessions for childcare needs), they show great resilience in their situations. Not to mention love for their children and a responsibility for the choices they made.

Still, the stigma of teen pregnancy stings.
Sophia was pregnant at 16 and her son is one year old. She struggled to bond with her baby and attributes this largely to the lack of support and vitriol of those around her.
“I had so many people whilst I was pregnant tell me that you don’t have what it takes yet, you’re not going to be a good mum, you don’t have the life experience,” she said.
When she did encounter problems adapting to motherhood, she was afraid to ask for help.
“If I’d let them see that I was failing and that I hadn’t bonded to my child, it would just put fuel on their fire,” she said.
“I feel it’s really important for people to know that the way they act can seriously effect a relationship between a mother or father and their child.”
When asked what they would do if their own teen daughter came to them pregnant, the response was singular: offer support, education and real choice.
The programme served as a wakeup call for all people in positions of influence over teenagers. Do we want to be part of a culture that says teen abortion is preferable to teen pregnancy? That the lives of teen parents’ babies are somehow less worthy than those of parents who first finish their education, get a job and get married before having a baby?
I didn’t think so.

Watch the segment for yourself:

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