Please Note: This is Ep.18
Please click here for Ep.17
(As everything is true, names have been changed to protect identities)
Teenage Contraception, Pregnancy and Abortion
Before we go any further with the story, I feel this would be a good time to pause and discuss some of the issues that the last couple of episodes have brought to the surface.
Now, many of you would have perhaps been surprised to read that I was an unmarried, pregnant seventeen-year-old. Perhaps the fact that I was already sexually active before the legal age in the UK might be shocking to you.
The truth of the matter is that underage and pre-marital sex is universal across all cultures and geography. The only difference is the country to country legislation and how frowned upon it is by some cultures more than others. And, sadly, these cultural and societal expectations can be crippling.
Let me give you a scenario:
Your unmarried, teenage daughter is pregnant and doesn’t tell you because she’s ashamed and knows you just won’t understand.
Assuming you live in a country such as India, where it’s not legal for a healthy, sane, unmarried woman to terminate a healthy pregnancy (that was not the result of rape); your daughter doesn’t tell you and goes off to a back-alley practitioner who performs the procedure leaving her at high risk of infection and other complications, that could even result in death.
Or, you live in a country where it is legal in her circumstance, and without telling you, she books her appointment and is given a termination.
The first scenario puts her life at risk, and although she is physically safe in the second, the emotional burden plus the upsurge of hormones take their toll on her mental state. Even emergency contraception (which can be taken up to 72hrs after unprotected sex) is not without notable side-effects that disrupt a woman’s physiology and her mental health. The termination of a pregnancy can also send a woman into long term depression beyond the hormone swing and even be a factor in suicide cases because of the guilt.
In either case would you rather your daughter went through the process by herself? Or would you be able to put aside everything you feel about the situation and focus on what’s best for her at that time?
And what if abortion just wasn’t an option and the father wasn’t around or was just a teen himself? Would you be able to provide your daughter a safe, loving environment in which to bring up your grandchild? And if even that wasn’t an option, due to finances for example, would you be able to give her all the loving care she needed during her pregnancy to deliver a healthy child that could someday become the well-loved adopted baby of a kind couple longing to welcome a child into their family?
Perhaps reading this you’re thinking you would, you’d be supportive, but in all likelihood, you’d probably be disappointed to say the least. Would you really be able to step up and be the parent and prospective grandparent that she needs in spite of what that colleague, aunty, or cousin will think about you?
What is it about the opinions of others that make us turn against the best interests of our own flesh and blood?
Millions of women have been beaten up, cast out of their homes, forced to give up their babies or have abortions, or even brutally killed, simply for doing what Nature has designed us to do.
All our hormones and emotions are geared towards finding a partner and procreating for the sake of the human race. It’s basic biology. It’s what comes to us most naturally. How can it then be a sin? When has God ever appeared on Earth and told us it is a sin and goes against ‘His plan’? Did God write the scriptures? No, man did. Or, to be more specific, men did.
Women have gone through so much trauma all because their families are more concerned about what others will think of them. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, who gives a damn what others think. Those that have something to say have more dirty laundry bursting out of their locked cupboards than they’d care to admit. And once they’ve cast a few stones at you, then what? They go back to their petty gossip circles and all you’re left with is lasting trauma and anguish within your own family.
What if you stopped giving a damn about what others think and chose compassion every time?
What if you stepped up and gave your daughter all the love and support she needed.
As a parent, before you ever find yourself in such a situation with your daughter (or your son, having gotten his sexual partner pregnant), let them know from as young an age as possible that they can always come and talk to you about these things. Show them through your consistent actions and behaviour that you will always listen to them and be supportive. You will save so much anguish and torment that could, in turn, affect the baby. It was one of my biggest worries, that if I were to keep the baby, would it be affected by all the stress I was going through?
And what if you can talk to your child openly about contraception even before the age you think they’d be sexually active.
In some Western cultures, it’s not unheard of for a girl of fourteen or fifteen years old, even if she’s not sexually active yet, to go on oral contraceptives with the signed consent of a parent or legal guardian. This might sound preposterous to some of you, but think about it, wouldn’t you rather assume that your daughter is sexually active (or thinking about becoming active) and has taken all the proper precautions, than assume she isn’t, never discussing it with her, and one, day lo and behold she’s pregnant.
I’m in no way saying every fourteen year old girl should be on the pill, but this is the choice some parents and daughters have made and it works for them. The more options you know about, the more informed choices you can make.
Also, being strict with your children, restricting where they go and who they go out with is not guaranteed prevention. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if it made them more likely to rebel. When two young love birds with raging hormones want it, they will find a way through all the restrictions put upon them anyway. The parents will only have added fuel to their fire, so to speak.
Apart from the very basic sex education at school, I really didn’t know enough about contraception. It’s not something my parents ever discussed with me. And even though my boyfriend was eight years my elder, at twenty-five years old, he didn’t know enough either. Ideally I should have been on the pill and we should have used a condom every single time — which we didn’t because he told me that we didn’t need to and if he pulled out in time it would be okay. It wasn’t. It never is. It is always a risk.
I don’t blame him though, because although he was more experienced than I was, he still didn’t have all the correct information either. Sex education in schools, banter between friends and all the conflicting information on the Internet isn’t enough. Parents must get the correct information, fill in all the blanks and communicate with their children about everything.
The combination of female contraceptives and a condom is the only thing that is going to save your child from an unwanted pregnancy, and a condom definitely from any sexually transmitted diseases, which are just as rife as the common cold (and even then, nothing is 100% effective… well, other than complete abstinence).
I once read somewhere about an ancient indigenous community, in an era when contraception wasn’t available, who allowed their children of age to go off and live their lives following their instincts as they pleased. There was no concept of marriage. If they became pregnant, the babies would go to live with their grandparents. They were brought up under the care and wisdom of grandparents, usually a collective community of them, who taught them about living and working in harmony with nature and who instilled spiritual values, while the young adults who although visited them frequently, continued to live out their lives with all the freedom nature had intended until they felt ready to live their lives differently.
There was more harmony and happiness. The children grew up well balanced.
Now what if that was the kind of society we lived in today. What if there was no such thing as marriage (which is a human construct)? What if we didn’t put any expectations whatsoever on our young adult population.
Have you ever questioned why you believe what you believe? Do you genuinely think all your opinions are correct? Have you ever thought about where these opinions come from? I wonder what life would be like if we didn’t have the societal expectations that we have now.
I wonder what your reaction might be if you heard your unmarried, female neighbour was pregnant? Perhaps some shock and judgement? But what if she was a woman who had chosen to be inseminated with a carefully selected sample from a sperm bank to bring a child into this world out of love, regardless of whether she had a husband/partner or not. Would your opinion then change of her?
And this is already happening. All around the world, more and more women who understand that relationships (and even marriage) are temporary but still have the desire to have children of their own and bring them up in a loving home are doing it on their own, whether through natural biology or with the aid of science.
Times are changing, and the views on pregnancy and marriage with them.
Do we want to be stuck in the past and cause grief to our children and possible unborn grandchildren just because of a point of view which less of the world now shares, or are we ready to embrace the change and bravely empower our children, arming them with knowledge, wisdom and our trust; understanding that anything could happen to your child at any time including an unplanned pregnancy and all they need is your love and support to make the decision that’s best for you all.
It’s not my place to say whether abortion is okay or not. I think it depends on many factors on a case by case basis, I only have my experiences on this matter, the choices I made, and their consequences, to share with you, then I’ll leave it to you to make up your mind. Some of these experiences you’ll read in the current episodes and some in future ones when I face a similar dilemma again… Yes, again. You’d think I would have learned from this one. But that’s what we humans do, even if we don’t want to we end up repeating our mistakes until we finally learn our lessons and make some serious changes.
Now, to the teens, tweens/young adults reading this, if you’re even just thinking about having sex for the first time or if you’re already sexually active, remember that nothing except abstinence is 100% effective. Think hard about the consequences of being sexually active:
- An unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock in a world full of judgment and expectations is going to be extremely hard to manage, whether you choose to continue with the pregnancy or terminate it.
- Even in countries where abortion is freely available, it does not warrant reckless behaviour. The physical, emotional and mental after-effects can be devastating and break one down completely (I speak from experience).
- Get all the correct information about contraception from teachers and family planning clinics, not your friends. Most importantly, approach your parents for information and advice. Build a relationship with them where you can trust each other and speak openly about everything. Trust me there’ll be times when you will goof up in general in life and they’ll be the best people to help you out as long as you keep that line of communication open between you.
- And all you lovely, young lads out there, if you’re not ready to be a dad just yet, please don’t try to convince yourself or tell the girl it’s not needed. It’s always needed. So put a sock in it and put a sock on it 🙂 … every single time.
For those who haven’t yet read it, please go here for Om Swami ji’s take on Sex and Spirituality.
Please click here to continue to Ep.19