Dear Teen Vogue, Stop Hailing Post-Abortive Teens as Reproductive Experts

What defines an expert? Teen Vogue recently published a piece clearly stating young women ages 17-24 are experts when it comes to abortion and reproductive rights. Yet expertise in a subject or specific field, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health and the life of a child, deserves a second opinion. Here is ours.

Merely experiencing an event does not make you an expert on the event. Experts are, by general definition, people who display special skills or knowledge in a specific area, domain, or subject. Expertise is not developed overnight. Knowledge, wisdom, and tenure come from years of study, life experience, reflection, and truth-seeking.

Free expression and the cult of personality developed and exploited by the mainstream media, Planned Parenthood, and those seeking leverage for political expediency do not make experts.

Youth Testify, as featured in the aforementioned article, seeks to create activists of young girls, most under the age of 18 years old, who recently had abortions (some more than one), before they even have an opportunity to absorb and process their experience.

Youth Testify is trying to stretch the definition of “expert.” Not only are they trying to convince people that teens and young adults are experts based on limited experience alone, but they are also trying to stretch experience on a very specific event—abortion—into expertise on a very broad topic—reproductive health. In any definition or connotation of the word “expert,” this attempt is unconvincing at best and harmful at worst.

Youth Testify wants to provide unfettered access to abortions on college campuses nationwide, including setting up actual abortion clinics on campus grounds. They state they want to empower women of all ages but especially those under 18 years old “and simultaneously reframe the narrative around abortion.” Moral relativism is alive and well in our secular “life-doesn’t-matter-as-long-as-I-get-what-I-want” society.

Parents beware, if you are not teaching your children to respect life and their own humanity and God-given dignity you can bet someone else will try to exploit their lack of understanding in this day and age.

The entire conversation lacks responsibility and accountability. In our teen years none of us have the mental capacity to judge future consequences with any degree of certainty nor to make life-threatening choices without a second opinion from an expert or the support of family or friends who have our best interests at heart. Think back to your own youth—what would you do differently knowing what you do now.

The abortion-choice lobby is weaponizing teens against themselves, convincing them that they know what is ultimately best for them. Talk to no one, you are the expert. But scientific studies done by real experts show abortion damages women, and science tells us abortion ends a human life.

Overwhelmingly, the most common reasons women cite for obtaining an abortion are “having a baby would change my life,” and “I can’t afford a baby right now.” Other common reasons include not wanting to be a single mom, unreadiness for a child or another child, and interference with work or school.

What can we as individuals do and how can we as a culture change so these reasons become less common and less likely to scare a woman into an abortion clinic instead of choosing life for her child?

Because a woman’s fetus is her child, her human offspring. Biologists and embryologists are quite in consensus about the fact a new human life begins when the process of fertilization is complete. An abortion kills a human. Do these young women, most of them pursuing a higher education, know this simple scientific fact?

And do these young women understand the very real, very harmful side effects abortion can bring to their own lives? It can affect their mental health, their relationships, and their physical health. Having an abortion, especially multiple ones, like some of these young women have had, increases the chances of preterm birth and low-birth-weight babies. These are not scare-tactic bullet points, but very real possible consequences of abortion. The immediate feeling of relief can change into persistent anxiety.

While some women feel negative effects of their abortion soon after, other women do not begin to feel the negative effects of the abortion until months or years later. Do the girls and young women whom Youth Testify claims have so much “expertise” understand these possibilities? Who will be there for them when they do?

One young woman highlighted in the article is a campus president for a university chapter of Planned Parenthood but she was “shocked when she learned she was pregnant” and said, “I was ashamed and didn’t try to reach out for more help.”

Pro-choice rhetoric does not care for the individual, it is not healthcare and it does not offer material or emotional support for any woman, let alone one that may want to choose differently without the fear of judgment or mob rule. “I just didn’t know what to do for myself even though I always knew what I would always tell others.”

If these girls and young women, who all stated they felt ashamed or embarrassed when they learned they were pregnant, were actually told that every life matters and they themselves have an innate value as being made in the image of God, and there is enough support and resources to see them through motherhood into an abundant life beyond anything they can imagine, how might they have responded differently to the child growing inside of them?

If fear had not been instilled into every exchange of motherhood, childbearing, and career building, what might they have imagined for themselves? These young women may have considered the life God brought to them in the form of their child was their destiny, an individual just as worthy of dignity as themselves, a child whose life or example could one day change the world.  

As a co-contributor and someone who as a teen made the horrible choice to have an abortion without the input of an expert to offer me truthful, comprehensive support and give me all available options, it was easy to compartmentalize my feelings and deny the then emerging scientific proof of my child’s humanity.

Today more than ever, we should be looking at how and why our American culture shames young women and teens into abortion rather than honoring the miracles that are possible in the children they carry. What is wrong with our culture that being pregnant is automatically seen as a source of intense fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and depression? Why does our society seem to imply to young women who are pregnant or have children that they cannot succeed academically, or in their career or relationships?

Seeking expert assistance and truth in moments of need or perceived crisis will go a long way to ensure making educated rather than rash decisions that will affect your self-esteem and mental stability for decades to come. Our young people deserve true experts who will listen and offer unbiased emotional support and objectivity which seeks their best interest, but it will not be found within the walls of an abortion clinic or on-campus women’s center with a hidden agenda. These groups, along with Teen Vogue, have no interest in accompanying these women into their maturity, let alone into their doubt.

These 17 young women are being used by Youth Testify to advance an abortion-friendly narrative: abortion is a perfectly safe procedure and “no big deal” to go through; women need abortion in order to succeed in school, work, career, and life and to be equal with men; and abortion is health care and a right. Youth Testify claims to want to be inclusive of stories of many kinds of abortion experiences. What they really want is to promote a specific view of abortion.

Would Youth Testify be so welcoming to a teen who regrets her abortion, or who was hurt during her abortion, or was pressured into getting one from her family, friends, significant other, doctor, or peers? We suspect not.

But the pro-life community will be there to give our support and assistance to post-abortive women if they ever come to a place where they are in need of mental, emotional, or physical healing.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.

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J. C. Beichner is a post-abortive mother, pro-every life advocate and author of the award-winning book, Grace in Progress: Prayers for the Beautifully Broken.

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I love science and teaching. I am passionate about using those interests to speak for those who can't.

Website | + posts

I love science and teaching. I am passionate about using those interests to speak for those who can't.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.