I am responding to Sam Guthrie's letter to the editor on March 31. I disagree with the statement that "a baby will not ruin your life." The decision to give a child up for adoption can be very agonizing and painful. A woman goes through the pregnancy feeling the baby move, kick, and hiccup. She watches her belly grow and her body changes in ways that may never be the same again. The physical sacrifices she makes can leave lasting emotional scars. The experience of pregnancy and a mix of emotions can influence the woman to keep a child she never intended to keep. Some might answer, "great, she kept her child." But what if two weeks, two months, or two years down the road she regrets her decision when she realizes she was not financially or emotionally mature enough to handle motherhood. The child may be abused or neglected as a result. What about the lasting guilt, remorse, and shame the woman may potentially experience if she goes through with the adoption? What about the societal pressures from those who may question her decision to give up her child? Women's choices, either adoption, abortion, or motherhood, are individual experiences. Each woman should be free to make the decision that she is going to have to live with.
We should avoid generalizations such as "a baby will not ruin your life" because for some, it just might. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but we can't make decisions for other people.
The best thing we can give our youth is knowledge. Sex education and reproductive safety are important because of the emphasis on safety and responsibility. These programs do not promote activity; rather, they acknowledge that many kids are going to do so regardless and that kids should be safe in their decisions. Abstinence-only programs are not effective because they don't teach kids about what is important, how to be responsible. Many unwanted pregnancies and painful decisions could be avoided if youth were educated about potential risks and contraceptives. The message should be prevention. Pretending that abstinence-only programs are effective in reducing the problem does more to perpetuate the problem.