“Why Can’t I Be Happy?”

baby showerLast month, I was at Chicago’s Navy Pier with the Pro-Life Action League to protest Planned Parenthood’s Generations Gala. With over 50 million children aborted in our country since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and Planned Parenthood currently performing 40 percent of those abortions, we stood as witness to the violence against women and children that PP promotes in the act of abortion. Nearing the end of the protest, I was approached by a young woman wearing a homemade sign pinned to her shirt that said, “Proud Teen Mom. Young girls deserve better than Planned Murderhood.” Lilliana explained that she had chosen life for her son Jay after finding out that she was pregnant at the age of 16. A few weeks later, I had the incredible opportunity to meet with Lilliana and hear her story. Among the many insights I gained from her story, the most poignant was this question, “Why can’t I be happy?” Faced with the myriad of social stigmas associated with teen pregnancy, Lilliana felt that the privilege of being happy was denied to her. She described an instinctive burst of joy upon finding out that she was pregnant, knowing that she was bearing a new life inside of her, but that joy was quickly eclipsed by the harsh reality of her situation. While pregnant women in stable, respectable situations are entitled to proudly announce the news, plan charming baby showers, and make a fuss over how to decorate the baby’s room, Lilliana wore baggy sweaters and deflected judgmental glances from passers-by on the sidewalks. She felt tremendous pressure to abort her child, and even called Planned Parenthood only to learn that she could pay $300 to lose the child that she already loved. Whereas other pregnant women are surrounded by a network of people offering help and advice, Lilliana delayed telling her family and lost nearly all of her friends. Some might say that the social stigma is justified. Children born in unstable situations face many risks, and their parents (mostly single moms) face untold challenges. Although we can work for a society in which children are born into stable and loving families, each human life is precious regardless of the circumstances. As we provide for the material needs of women who face unplanned pregnancies, we need to help them reclaim the joy that is so easily buried in the mound of social stigmas. We can help women reclaim any dignity that has been lost through the fear and embarrassment of an unplanned pregnancy by recognizing that every pregnant brings a tremendous gift to the world – the gift of a unique and unrepeatable human life. [Cross-posted at Biking for Babies]

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