How Anti-Abortion Legislation Reinforces My Insecurities as a Teenage Girl
One of the most controversial topics being debated in the country right now is abortion rights. Being a female, this topic piques my interest as it could potentially affect me. Being a teenager, this topic makes me feel insecure about myself. I am at the age where I am meant to be finding myself, learning from mistakes, figuring out my personality, deciding what I believe in and finding what is important to me. I am also at a very vulnerable stage in my life as I am becoming more and more self aware and am constantly doubting myself and looking to others for guidance. Having a president elect and a primarily conservative party in power who oppose a female’s right to choose concerns me. I find myself feeling discouraged that the government could take away a woman’s right to make such a personal decision.
With teen years being the time most young people are prone to being influenced, most become insecure. The use of social media causes many young girls to be self conscious about their bodies, adults talking down to teens can make them feel insecure about their opinions and now the government wanting to make the decision of abortion for women makes teenage girls insecure about their ability to make important decisions. This stays with girls throughout their whole lives.
Figuring out beliefs is a big part of being a teenager. Of course these can change throughout life but they are typically established during the teen years. Many people are brought up with religions taught to them by their families or communities. As we grow and have more understanding of the world our views may change and be different from those around us or stay the same. Growing up in a Catholic household I was taught the beliefs of the religion. I am in a very supportive family however and they encouraged me to figure out my own beliefs which, in turn, were very different from those of Catholicism. The American ideals are supposed to be as accepting of people’s beliefs and religions as my family is which is why there is free speech and no national religion. This is true in theory, but the debate of abortion rights tests that theory. Many who are pro-life are who they are because of their Christian beliefs. This is when religion gets mixed with legislation and can get confusing.
When a nation with no official religion starts making policies to please those of only one religion and goes against many others opinions then the government starts to take away the power of freedom in the country. “How did we get here, where two powerful men argue about whether abortion should be legal while both agree that it is wrong and against God’s will?” (Polite, Katha. New York Times). As teens grow and figure out what they believe in, a country shoving one religion’s beliefs down their throats makes it very hard for them to actually figure it out. This is because it can make people feel like they have no power to choose on their own. It also makes some think that they will not be respected if they do not share the same beliefs as the people in power. As a result these things can result in insecurities among the nation’s youth.
Politicians stating outright that teenagers- especially females- do not have the capability of even understanding the topic of abortion makes teens feel lesser about themselves. Jason Lewis, a newly elected Minnesota Congressman has strong views on the abortion discussion and how women are not educated enough to have an opinion on what is allowed to happen to their own bodies. “This is a country in crisis. Those women are ignorant… They are simply ignorant of the important issues in life. Somebody’s got to educate them… You’ve got a vast majority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means. You know what they care about? They care about abortion. They care about abortion and gay marriage… They are non-thinking.” (Jason Lewis). I read those words and I feel discredited in all the work that I have put into my education. This man is telling me that I should be focusing on this country’s economics and not this country’s social issues even though both are important. This makes me feel like I have to choose between gross domestic product and being able to have my opinions and stand up for what I believe in.
Teen pregnancy is an issue in the United States which could be caused by many reasons but the fact is many of those pregnancies are unexpected and many of those pregnant girls are too young to become mothers. Planned Parenthood reports that “…millions of women face unplanned pregnancies every year. In fact, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.” So when these unexpected pregnancies happen should the government be able to take away their ability to make a decision for themselves which will impact the rest of their lives? Even if this decision goes against what many religions and many politicians feel is unethical, it is still a personal decision. If women are mandated to have unplanned children, most of which they cannot support emotionally or financially, how can they have the confidence to be good mothers? Teens are constantly being told that they are too young to make important life decisions, but somehow they are not too young to become mothers.
Men weigh in heavily on this issue even though they are talking about something that they will never physically experience. They seem to have strong opinions on women’s bodies and have no trouble stating those opinions loudly and often. While the topic can and should be discussed by all people, reproductive rights are far more personal for women who have become pregnant. The strong stances taken by many men, especially men in politics, can send a message to women that they are not capable of thinking for themselves. Teen women, being more vulnerable, hear these opinions and feel insecure and unempowered to “make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine.” (Hillary Clinton)
With the government getting involved in health decisions, specifically the right to choose whether to bring another life into the world helps shape the way many teenage girls feel about themselves. This issue is magnified with teen girls because they are just trying to find their way in this sea of new information surrounding them. Giving these women the power of choice empowers them and can give them the confidence they need.
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