By Gabrielle Muhammad, 16, Frederick Douglass Academy HS
Print This Post
Gabrielle thinks teens should wait to have sex until they're responsible enough to handle the consequences.

Sex is all around us. I hear friends talk about it at school, songs on the radio portray it as something fun and the half-dressed women in some music videos seem to be telling girls that it’s cool to attract men’s attention like that. All this stuff can make us curious about sex, but it seems like no one is talking about the consequences, like getting a sexually transmitted disease or getting pregnant. But I’ve seen how the consequences affected someone close to me.

My sister, who is 16 years older than me, and I used to have a lot of long conversations. One day when I was in fifth grade she told me that she had had an abortion a year before. I was shocked. My eyes started to water. I don’t remember exactly why she had the abortion, but I think it was because she didn’t think her partner would be a good father. I had no idea that she had even been pregnant. All I could manage to say was “uh-huh” when she asked if I was listening. If I started talking the tears would come out. I felt like she regretted it because she wouldn’t be telling me otherwise.

I thought about the child I’d never know

After she told me, I went straight to my room. I laid on my bed and cried quietly. I was sad that I could have had another niece or a nephew. I already had one niece and one nephew who are just three and four years younger than me. We’re more like siblings. This time I would have been 11 years older than the baby. I envisioned holding the baby for the first time and being called “auntie.”

Before all this I had never thought about abortion. I mean, I was only 11 years old. But afterward I kept thinking about what happened and I realized that I thought abortions were wrong. To me abortion wasn’t a constitutional issue or court case. To me it was about my niece or nephew whose life was taken.

Illustration by Jennie Nguyen, 15, Glendale HS

Abortion is not just getting rid of a child so no one is disappointed in you or so that you won’t have to deal with the difficulties of raising a baby. It’s about refusing to face the consequences of your actions. Yes, raising a child would be hard but that’s something you could face if you have sex.

I think there should be more TV shows and movies that show how having sex has consequences, like MTV’s reality show 16 and Pregnant. The first episode I watched showed how a teen mom, Amber, had to become more responsible. One day her best friend asked her if she was going out with their friends to a big party. Amber had to tell her friend no because she had to take care of her baby. You could tell that Amber and her friend were both disappointed but that was a sacrifice she had to make. Throughout the episode, Amber looked stressed while feeding the baby, changing diapers and rocking the baby to sleep. I felt bad for her because while her friends were out having fun, she was stuck in the house taking care of her child.

I liked how the show didn’t glamorize teen motherhood. Although Amber and Gary, the baby’s father, didn’t have much money, they took responsibility for their actions. It was good that the show included the dad, because it can teach boys how a pregnancy affects them too.

I’ve heard my friends at lunch sitting around talking about their sexual experiences. People ask questions, like, “What did you guys do?” Or “How does it feel?”

The only time my friends talk about sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies is when they’re gossiping, like “girl so-and-so has an STD” or “Guess who just got pregnant?” They don’t talk about protecting themselves, choosing not to have sex or how they would handle pregnancy and parenthood. I guess they think it will never happen to them.

Teens should be better informed

Maybe if they had better sex education they wouldn’t treat sex so casually. My sex ed class didn’t mention how to protect yourself, what birth control is or where to get it. I think every class should include a discussion about abortion. It should explain how one is performed. I think lots of girls have no idea what the procedure is. They should talk about the emotional consequences of an abortion by having a woman who had one speak to the class. The class should also discuss adoption, which is an option for those who are thinking about abortion. This way the child could have a better life than you think you could provide them.

Now that I’m older I understand better why my sister had an abortion. It would’ve been hard to raise a child without the support of the father, but when I think about the niece or nephew I could have had, I still don’t agree with my sister’s decision.

I know some women feel like having an abortion was the best decision for them. But to me, unless you’re a rape victim or having the baby would endanger your health, then you’re taking the easy way out of a hard position you put yourself in. I feel like my sister didn’t face the consequences of her actions. And many teens don’t want to face the consequences of their actions either. Some girls decide to have abortions because the father is not willing to take responsibility and be in the child’s life and they don’t think they can raise a child on their own. I guess the guys feel it’s the girl’s problem, but it should be the guy’s responsibility as much as the girl’s.

I feel too young to be sexually active right now, but later if I get pregnant I wouldn’t get an abortion. I would try to be the best mother I could.

Like this story? To help ensure that L.A. Youth can continue to write about sex education, please donate to L.A. Youth.

To read more of L.A. Youth’s coverage of sexual health and sex education …

Why didn’t I learn this in sex ed? Since 16-year-old Meklit’s health class wasn’t informative, she has tried to get answers on her own. WITH a Q&A with a sexual health educator.

Taking on teen pregnancy. The play Ernesto, 17, was part of taught him and his classmates about the consequences of sex. WITH sidebar about the efffectiveness of different forms of birth control. (October 2009)

Acting against AIDS. Putting on a play made Jessica, 17, realize that teens are at risk and need to protect themselves. (January – February 2009)

Listen up about HIV and AIDS. As an AIDS educator Sasha, 18, wants teens to know they could be at risk and how to protect themselves. (November – December 2007)

Inside Planned Parenthood. A confidential visit to Planned Parenthood could be the answer to your questions about sexual health. (May – June 2005)

What you need to know about sexual health. Valentina interviewed Dr. Mark Schuster the author of Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid They’d Ask. w/ list of clinics. (September 2004)

Why does my textbook tell us sex is dirty and bad? Robyn, 16, says her health textbook shouldn’t take a stand on whether teens should abstain from sex. (January – February 2004)