To say “Just have the baby” is to tell someone they should just casually take on what can be an experience where you’re thrust into both love at first sight and devastating fear, anguish, and possibly heartbreak in a very short period of time. A time, no less, when you may be at the very end of your physical and emotional endurance.
There’s no “just” about having a baby. And not necessarily any justice, either.
Just have the baby? Only if you want to. Because no one else can take on any of the pain or risk, and it’s rare that you’ll be helped significantly with the costs—something I think anyone capable of becoming pregnant understands all too well and that forced pregnancy activists work very hard not to acknowledge.
This comes up A LOT at Scarleteen, so just a reminder:
If you think — or are saying to others — things like that if you are using a method or methods of contraception, then there is no risk of pregnancy, or if you are either using safer sex practices, or aren’t, but you and partners have not had previous sexual partners, or have but have recently been tested for all the STIs you each can with negative results that there is no risk of STIs?
Please understand that is false.
If and when we are engaging in the activities — or have been made part of them unwillingly via abuse or assault — that pose those risks, there will always be SOME level of risk there still, including when we are using things, like birth control, latex/nonlatex barriers and testing, to reduce those risks.
Those things reduce risks (sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot, depending on what all we are using and how well we are doing so): they do not remove them.
If you only feel comfortable with NO risk of these things — and it’s okay if you don’t; most people will choose to take some level of risk of them because they can handle that and want to have the kinds of sex that present those risks — then you have to choose not to engage in those activities. At all.
If you want reduced risks of either or both of those things, then you have to use things and practices that reduce those risks. If you want to engage in those activities with the lowest risks you can have, then you need to do things like using dual contraception, including one highly effective method, and be really serious about safer sex — using barriers all the time and for all the activities that pose those risks, always keeping up with testing and insisting partners do, too.
Again, there is no one right set of choices here: this is about what you are yours want and feel most comfortable with now and in the long-term.
But just so we all understand, there is no, for example, penis-in-vagina intercourse that poses NO risk of pregnancy (when the people involved have bodies capable of reproduction) or STIs, even with contraception and safer sex practices to the letter. Just like we can’t say we are going to go out and have no risk of catching a cold interacting with other people during cold season because we are washing our hands.
If NO RISK — none at all — is what you want or need for yourself, then you will need to choose not to engage in the activities that present those risks at all.
(And of course, if you want to find out how to reduce these risks with any activity, either of pregnancy or STIs, or want help figuring out what you even want and need around all this in the first place, we’re always available at Scarleteen with both the information on all of that and to talk with you about it, if you’d like.)
A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) finds millions of adolescent girls suffer serious long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy. Globally, the U.N. agency estimates 7.3 million girls under 18-years-old give birth, including two million girls younger than 14.
In developing countries, 20,000 girls under 18 give birth every day, the report says. It estimates some 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Among those who survive, many will develop an obstetric fistula. This is a hole in the birth canal, which leaves the girl leaking urine constantly.
The director of the UNFPA office in Geneva, Alanna Armitage, says adolescent girls are at increased risk of child marriage and sexual coercion. Maternal death among girls under the age of 15 from low- and middle-income countries is twice that of older females,” says Armitage.
“Our report shows that nine out of 10 pregnancies to girls under 18 take place within a marriage. And, as you may know, every day, 39,000 girls are married in violation of their basic human rights. One in nine is married before the age of 15 and this, of course, will continue as long as families, communities and governments tolerate child marriage,” she said.
Read the rest here.