By Nadine Dabby, 18, UC Berkeley
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A giant blue sign in my room says KEEP ABORTION LEGAL. I’m really not sure how it got there, I mean, I’m not an abortion activist. In fact, probably the closest I ever came to any abortion-related issue was watching a movie a few years back, and getting a newspaper shoved in my face displaying cut-up fetuses by an avid pro-lifer in tenth grade.

I was brought up to be believe in liberty and freedom to make decisions and so I took it for granted that I was pro-choice, not having delved into the topic further. Besides I thought the blue sign was cool. And I thought it was wrong that some girls I read about who got pregnant in high school had to put their lives on hold (sometimes permanently) to raise a kid conceived by guys who later said, "It’s not mine," or accused them of being a whore.
That, in a nutshell, is what I knew about abortion. When I asked a couple of friends, they didn’t have much to say about it either.
"I’m pro-choice, I guess," said my friend Sarah.


"Why not."

Another friend of mine, Sheila said she was pro-life, but acted as though she really hadn’t considered the matter before. "Well, there are ethical issues involved, but other than that I think a girl should be able to decide," Sheila said.

Too many teens brush this issue aside without really thinking about it. But what if an unwanted pregnancy happened to you or to a friend? Then you’d have to choose between keeping the baby, giving it up for adoption or having an abortion. What would be the right decision for you? It’s a lot more complicated than it seems at first.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

I had to think twice about abortion after talking to a friend of mine whose mom considered aborting him, but ended up not doing it. This guy is such a good person and he is entitled to every breath he takes. But it would have only taken a seven-minute procedure to not even give him a chance at all.

If you put yourself in the shoes of a pro-choice person, and were faced with the decision to kill a baby growing inside of you, would you really be able to?

By the same token, if you are avidly pro-life, and you too find yourself pregnant as a teenager, would you really be willing to go through the trauma and embarrassment of carrying a child for nine months and then either giving it up or giving up your own freedom?

Either way it comes down to choosing one life over another.
As Christie Blom of the Westside Crisis Pregnancy Center said, "As a high school girl when facing an unintended pregnancy your choices are usually bad, worse and horrible.

"(Young women) almost get this huge burden dumped on them—’You make the decision, I’ll support you,’" Blom said. "A lot of the time (the father) has moved on by the time she thinks she’s pregnant to a new relationship. The woman is actually the loser in the situation because she is left with the responsibility."

An abortion has many consequences

A woman undergoing abortion puts herself at physical risk as she would for any medical procedure. There is risk of hemorrhage, infection if the procedure is incomplete, perforation (that means a tear in the uterus) and the cervix becoming too weak to carry another pregnancy to term. Some medical reports link abortion to a higher risk of breast cancer.

But that’s not all, there are possible psychological consequences too. According to the Los Angeles Times, 10 to 50 percent of women get post-abortion syndrome, a post-traumatic syndrome which is a major mental and emotional disturbance caused by a single event, like when a person comes back from war. Symptoms of this syndrome include depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, nightmares, eating disorders, alcoholism and promiscuity. What’s more, these symptoms can strike two days later, 20 years later or never.

"It’s a sad fact that an awful lot of girls are trying to get pregnant because they want someone to love and to love them back," said Sandy Hlad, co-director of the Pregnancy Counseling Center. "And a lot of girls who’ve had abortions are trying to get pregnant again to replace the baby, because they feel guilty. A lot of girls aren’t even intentionally trying to get pregnant. Often a girl will come in and get a test and say she had an abortion three months ago. Some girls come in to get a pregnancy test when they had an abortion one week ago to see if the baby is still alive."

I look around and I see all this fuss from both sides of the abortion debate. People are throwing their arms in the air as though they were the supreme judges. But really, none of these people (or maybe just some) have ever actually faced the matter themselves. I guess you can’t really say what you would do until you are in the shoes of a 16-year-old girl who only has three choices.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know by writing or emailing a letter to L.A. Youth.