The Heartless Way Conservatives Treat Young Women Who Choose to Have Babies
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But just because they don’t want you to say no to having a baby means that Michigan Republicans want you to say yes, either, as the girls at Catherine Ferguson have learned. Young women trying to parent and finish high school face often insurmountable challenges. For one thing, being pregnant or mothering in high school is heavily stigmatized, and they face discrimination from school officials, teachers, and their fellow students. They also face a series of pragmatic problems. Balancing school and motherhood requires childcare, something most high school students can’t even begin to access or afford. Being a parent requires money, too. Trying to balance work, parenting, and school proves too much for many young mothers. Fewer than half of teenage mothers go on to complete high school.
Separate schools for teenage mothers draw criticism from people on the left as well as the right. Liberal critics say that teenage mothers should be integrated into their regular high schools, and the services offered at specialty schools should be available at ordinary high schools. While these critics have a point, the cold fact of the matter is that as long as services for teenage mothers are not integrated into regular schools, places like Catherine Ferguson serve a role. This particular school has a 90% graduation rate, more than twice the national average for teenage mothers. Most importantly, the girls themselves cherish the school, which is why they put their bodies on the line in order to save it.
Gov. Snyder claims to be “firmly pro-life”, but his governing decisions that led to multiple young mothers getting arrested because they want a better lives for themselves and their small children shows he is anything but. He and other Republicans who oppose reproductive rights are better understood as anti-choice and anti-woman. Their stance isn’t pro-fetus, but pro-punishment. If you get pregnant outside of their very narrow parameters of what’s acceptable (middle class, married, white), they simply want you to suffer for it. If your decision is terminate the pregnancy, they will make you suffer. But as the girls at Catherine Ferguson are learning, if you choose to have the baby, you will also be made to suffer. You may even find yourself hauled away in handcuffs if you dare suggest you deserve to have something as simple as a high school education.