I never felt as empowered as I did when I crossed the threshold of the bathroom door in my mother’s house to tell her what my instincts had already told me: I was 15, and I was pregnant.
I did not know it then, but once I crossed the physical threshold of the doorway, I also crossed one inside myself. I went from being a powerless pregnant teen to a pregnant woman who had the ability to choose my own life’s fate by choosing what to do with my pregnancy.
Everyone was waiting for me to tell them what I wanted to do.
Do you want to put it up for adoption? Do you want to keep it? Do you want to terminate your pregnancy? What do you want to do?
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This new-found power was strange to me.
Up until that point, all of the decisions in my life were made for me without me even being made aware of it or being asked how I felt. I attended approximately eight elementary schools due to the constant shuffling and moving around through which the adults in my life put me. I was never asked how moving across the country several times made me feel, what I wanted for dinner, or how I felt about anything, really. Thus, I learned early on that I did not have a voice or a say in matters that affected my life.
The sexual “education” I received in school was abstinence-only and peppered with mentions of God and how important my purity was to him. I remember the graduation from the course. We were to stand up, say, “Sex is MINT for marriage,” receive our graduation mint, and sit back down. I can also remember not enjoying the course and not understanding what the point of it was but I just went along with it because that’s what good girls do.
This passivity transcended to all realms of my life even when it came to my body and sexuality. The first time I had sex I figured that, just like the disposable mint I received in class, it wasn’t a big deal. I figured sex is just what was supposed to happen after an intense make-out session.
I didn’t realize that I could have said “no” or “I don’t want to” or “not now.” Just like everything else in life, someone else initiated it, and my “good girl” nature meant I “had to go along with it.”
Let me be clear that by no means am I saying I was forced to have sex.
What I am saying is the lack of voicing my opinion during my upbringing, combined with proven ineffective sexual education, did not equip me with the knowledge to challenge things I did not like or feel comfortable with.
Then, here I was in the powerful decision-making position I was not aware existed, being asked what I wanted to do.
In a strange turn of events and circumstance—being pregnant at 15—I found I had my life in my own hands. Finally people wanted to know what I wanted. “I do not agree with abortions, but it is your life and your pregnancy so the decision lies with you,” my mother told me. “I’ll go along with whatever you choose.”
Four days before my 16th birthday I became a teen mom, by my own choice.
I chose to carry, birth, and raise my daughter. I had a choice, and I chose what I felt was right for me.
So whenever I get thanked by an anti-choicer for having my child young, and am then asked, “How can you be a teen mom and be pro-choice?” I want to answer in several ways. However, what I really want them and everyone else to know is I am pro-choice because I am a teen mom.
By exercising the choice that all women have as a natural and constitutional right, I was able to finally feel some sense of control over my life. The ability to choose the fate of my pregnancy has carried over into every realm of my life.
That power I felt when deciding what I wanted to do is the same power I possess as I go through life every day. That power has replaced the void I once had in me that made me a complacent “good” young woman. It’s the same power I am teaching my daughter in the hopes that she does not have to learn this important lesson in life by following my path.
This power, the ability to choose, to dictate the direction of my life, is the power that tells me that I am more than capable of anything, because I say so. I can control my future, I did it at 15, and I will continue to do so.
If I did not have to ability to choose, I would not be the confident woman or mother I am today.