Aborting Young Women's Rights

Emily Olfson, David Simpkins
April 6, 2006

Abortion ban rallies young South Dakota pro-choice activists

By Emily Olfson

South Dakota passed the nation's strictest ban on abortion last month. The state has one abortion clinic, which conducts 800 procedures a year. Native American leaders are talking about building a tribal clinic that would operate outside the reach of the law since reservations are considered sovereign entities. Children's PressLine editor Emily Olfson spoke with pro-choice teens about the effect of the ban.

Sarah Prentice-Mott, 17
Rapid City, S.D.

In Rapid City, they don't really talk about sex. We didn't actually get any sex ed. in high school, and we had one class in middle school. Right now, the main focus of sex education is that abstinence is good. But that doesn't work. My belief is if school systems start teaching condom [use], your chances of getting pregnant are reduced. It's extremely important to provide all the options to people, not just abstinence education. I've heard a lot of outrage about [the abortion ban]. A lot of teachers aren't really willing to talk about it. They can lose their jobs, with the way the school system is set up here.

It's just another example of how South Dakota's not willing to move with the times. It's so incredibly conservative that it's kind of hard to live here. I'm leaving the state in three months, and I'm not planning on living here after college.

My belief is that part of the reason that this bill was put into law is so it can go to the Supreme Court, with judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. There's no exception in the bill for rape or incest, and it grants rapists parental rights, which is appalling. They can't tell some girl in South Dakota who they've never met what to do with her life.

Abortion affects people who are younger. I mean, you don't hear stories about 40 year-olds getting abortions, but stories about 15- and 16-year-olds? There's a lot of those. A lot of teenagers are really ignorant about the issue. Especially in the town I live in, they're very sheltered about this issue. There's always girls who didn't quite get sex education, didn't use the right protection, and end up pregnant when they're a junior in high school.

My advice is to never stop talking about it. Even if there's no support, chances are there's someone out there who agrees but isn't willing to speak out. If people keep their mouths shut about what's important to them, eventually their rights are taken away and they're left helpless.

Alice Lubeck, 14
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Most of my friends are pro-life. It makes me feel a little alone that there aren't a lot of people who share my views. In language arts one day, we talked about it, and most of the kids were saying, "Yay, it's gonna be passed!" or "That'd be really awesome if it gets passed." This was before Gov. Rounds signed it. It made me feel like I was in room with a bunch of people who are a lot different than me.

If something happens, like rape, then it could directly affect me. And I'm sure along the way, I'll probably have a friend, or know someone who is put in that situation, and have to keep the baby when she didn't want to. Having a 13-year-old who got raped go through a pregnancy and trying to live with it, and then having to give birth when they're only 13, it could really hurt that child.

Abortion decision is not an easy one for young women

By David Simpkins

This year, the Supreme Court will decide whether Congress' ban on late-term abortions is legal. In light of the recent bill in South Dakota (see sidebar) and two new Supreme Court justices, this could be a pivotal year for the abortion debate. Children's PressLine editor David Simpkins interviewed two young women who would have considered themselves pro-life until they found themselves with unplanned pregnancies when they were young and financially unstable.

Amanda Acevedo, 18
Bronx

I already have a son that is 14 months old. When I got pregnant the second time my son was only six months old. I was using birth control, and I knew it wasn't safe to have another baby because of the side effects of birth control. I chose to have an abortion, and it wasn't easy. I was really depressed. I don't really believe in abortions. I did not tell anyone except my baby's father but he was like, "The decision is up to you."

I had so many thoughts going through my head. I wanted to complete school. I have a one-bedroom apartment, so where is the new baby going to sleep? I didn't have enough money to move into a bigger apartment. At the time only my boyfriend was working, so I was not financially ready to have a second baby.

The clinic was gloomy and cold. I felt like I wasn't welcome there. I was against myself getting an abortion anyway, so I was crying when I was there. To top it off, outside the building were people protesting against abortions. That played with my emotions even more. I felt all alone, no one to talk to, no one to comfort me. When you go through the door where the procedure is done, they do not let any one in with you. It's just the nurses and you.

I had to go through a metal detector before I could actually go into the clinic waiting room. I was like what the hell is this? I have to go through a metal detector like I'm some crazy person? But I guess it's because of the protesters. I don't hate the protesters 'cause a person shouldn't really get an abortion unless they have to. I'm not going to tell everybody you can have as much sex as you want and get pregnant, and go ahead and get an abortion. However, the protesters weren't across the street. They were right in front of the abortion clinic protesting with signs, and they had pictures of when women abort the unborn babies. It was really disturbing. Also the protesters are yelling as you go in the building, "You don't have to do it, there are other ways, we can help you," and they tried to block me from going in there. The only way I got in there was because I had to tell them I'm not going in there for that reason, I'm going there to see a social worker. So then they let me in.

After, I felt very sick and dizzy. After you get the procedure done, you have to stay in a resting room for about a half an hour. I was so dizzy I couldn't even walk to the train. When I got home, I was so sick. It took me about two days to recover, and it wasn't just because I was feeling sick but that I was depressed.

I feel like I made the right decision. I wouldn't have been ready to handle another baby. I have one baby in Pampers already and to have another one in Pampers, and to have two babies in daycare We weren't ready. I have one child now, and I want to give him all my attention. If I was financially stable and I had completed my schooling, I still wouldn't have had the baby because I was on birth control at the time I got pregnant and there could have been serious side effects. But I don't think someone should have an abortion unless it is really necessary.

Khelia Braswell, 19
Brooklyn

I was 15 when I had an abortion. I didn't tell my mom because I didn't want to disappoint her. She had me when she was 15. She had a hard time growing up with me. She had to drop out of school. She didn't even get her diploma. It was very hard, and I don't want to have that same feeling that it is happening to her daughter.

My boyfriend was the first person I told. It would have really taken a toll on both of us, so we decided that it's best that I get an abortion. I started crying because there was no way that I could keep the baby. I don't really believe in getting an abortion, but sometimes it is the better choice. I could barely take care of myself, and I just figured that an abortion was the way to go.

I was pretty sad. Did I really kill my seed that could have been born? What if my parents would have done that to me? Of course I was in pain, they put you to sleep. When you wake up, it's a whole other world. Reality hits hard.

I wasn't using protection, but I was only with that one person. There were times I thought I was pregnant but it ended up that I wasn't. This time it was a big shocker. I'm on birth control now. I was more foolish than irresponsible because I knew what I was doing. I figured it won't happen, and then it ended up happening.

My sister is 13 and she is close to the age where boys are trying to talk to her, and I don't want her to make the same mistakes as mother and me did. If she asks, I would tell my little sister the truth. I would let her know to be careful, that it is not worth not using protection just because it may feel better. I'm not going to tell her don't have sex because people do what they want, and she is going to do it anyway. But I would tell her to be careful 'cause I don't want her to end up like me.


Children's PressLine is a journalism program for young people, ages 8 to 18, in New York City.


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