Thanks to Amy Benfer at Broadsheet for pointing out this article in the new issue of Self, called “Single, Pregnant and Panicked,” about the trend of twentysomething women having unplanned pregnancies. As the feature points out, we’ve all seen this trend in Hollywood — Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba, and Ashlee Simpson have all had babies in the last few years — but some of us, especially given the statistics, have probably seen it in our personal lives or experienced unplanned pregnancy ourselves. Despite editing this site, the statistics shocked me. About half of American women will have an accidental pregnancy before the age of 45. That’s kind of a scary thought, considering my addiction to high-fructose corn syrup (um, and red wine).
Self‘s main intention is to show just how “normal” the face of unplanned pregnancy actually is — that it’s not just famous names like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears or “careless and clueless” teenagers who get knocked up accidentally. It happens to “smart,” educated, career-minded women too — women who don’t have Hollywood money in their bank accounts either. To illustrate that point, writer Laura Bell focuses her story primarily on Kortney Peagram, a 28-year-old urban professional who found herself pregnant after a drunken one night stand with a married male friend. In the end, Peagram has a change of heart right before getting an abortion and decides to have the baby, which her sister will raise. It’s the kind of happy ending movies are inspired by. Literally. Benfer points out that the verbal agreement between Peagram and her sister — “I’m in if you’re in” — is straight outta “Juno.”
Of course, not all unplanned pregnancies have such a Hollywood movie ending. Many women choose to have abortions, some miscarry, others have the babies and raise them alone, while some mothers have the support of the father or other family members. Bell includes two other characters in her narrative, both of whom carried out their pregnancies, like Peagram, but are raising their children with the assistance of family members. These stories add diversity to the article, but why wasn’t there a woman who chose to have an abortion? Or a woman who decided to keep the child, but had a miscarriage? Writes Benfer:
“When quite literally 99 percent of pregnant women choose to raise their children themselves or have an abortion, it seems, at the very least, that these are the women whose stories should be heard first.”
While the article in Self was, in general, a good one and definitely a nice little wake-up call for women who have unprotected sex (or don’t know that the morning after pill needs to be taken within 72 hours of the deed), I, like Benfer, wish that Bell had shown all sides to this very relevant topic. [Self via Salon]