I edited this:
Every time I see an article or statistics about how teen pregnancy rates have gone up - I scream. “Why?” you may ask.
First, the reason may be because the lack of access to sex education, birth control, and abortion. This may be partly why rates have gone up. Teens are oppressed - they do not have full "legal" rights as say, I do. Often their choices are decided for them (and we can argue that be good or bad thing) and their autonomy is rarely considered.
Second, those statistics are negative (negative as in it's "bad", "unwanted," "disgusting", "not desirable."). Of course it could be negative if teen women are not offered reasonable education to sexuality (as I stated above). I certainly wasn't. But it is also negative because our society does not want teen pregnancy to go up. There is an assumption that being a pregnant teen or a teen mom is super bad situation. These young women need to be going to college, get married, and THEN have children. It assumes we have all agreed on some abstract "appropriate" age of a pregnancy. So if we talk about how the rates have gone up, people can automatically think - well, kids are having sex, kids are having kids, and so on. I never see statistics on the rates of women in their 20's or their 30's having children. Is it because society has assumed those are "appropriate" ages to have children?
The other thing I get frustrated is how these statistics view teen pregnancy, as a "problem.” So when I ask the question, “what is the ‘appropriate’ age to become pregnant?” I will not get an answer. I know some people choose to become parents after they are married and have careers, but it was still a HARD choice. I feel that the constant focus on teen pregnancy as an "issue" as opposed to just another population that may get pregnant, perpetuates the idea of the “ideal mother” is the one who is done with college, has a career, and is married (or maybe just married right out of high school and is a stay at home mother). Of course, she would have to be married to a man. (I want to note that these mothers are STILL mothers and are still important. However, I am focusing on "inappropriate" mothers.”)
As a group, teens are oppressed and (just like women, queer people, people of color and so on), have a right to sex education just as anyone else. But if teen pregnancy rates raise, let’s talk about it as an issue in regard to radical reproductive justice and rights for all, not blaming the teen for “fucking up” or “being a burden.” (Hello? Because didn’t and are not!) Sometimes a teen choosing to parent is a wonderful thing ... it was for me. And it took a lot of prying and searching on my part to find other people who thought like me about being a teen mom, unfortunately. The access to empowerment for teen parents (particularly mothers) should be like, right there, right here!! (Because it often is for mothers of "appropriate" ages, as it should be!)
Of course, most of these statistics focus on the one who is pregnant or has birthed or will birth. The teenager (or not teenage) men and male-bodied people are not being asked about their sexuality and/or sex lives. The mark of a pregnant belly will never happen to them that screams, "Hey guess what everyone? I had sex and I am in high school. See?! See?!" But apparently, isn't more cool for the teenage man to “get laid”, then for the teenage women to have sex and get pregnant? He's a hero, she's the whore.
Instead of being bogged down with statistics pointing to how it is a "bad" thing that teen pregnancy rates have gone up. I graduate in May with two majors (already have a two year degree) and am off to graduate school in the fall. I honestly probably would not have been so motivated unless I had a children because no one at home was encouraging me either way. I found other amazing single and/or teen/former teen mothers and knew I could do it. Solidarity!