Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra from MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have been, surprisingly, one of the more controversial couples on the two shows. Catelynn was the only teen mom in the first season to carry her pregnancy to term and put the child up for adoption; the little girl, Carly, is now a toddler and the adoptive family is still in touch with the birth parents. Over the years, some people have wondered why Catelynn and Tyler are even on “Teen Mom” anymore, since she is not a day-to-day parent like the others on the show. Some have even suggested MTV might be exploitatively harming these two for keeping them on a show that’s sole focus is the child they gave up for adoption.
Catelynn and Tyler are in the news less now that younger casts of “Teen Mom” are in the limelight. To their credit, they haven’t had public battles with drug abuse, domestic violence and mental illness quite like Amber Portwood, another teen mom from the first season. They seem like basically good kids with solid heads on their shoulders; last year the two even got engaged and set a date for 2013.
But lately Catelynn’s been making headlines recently for another reason: she’s an anti-abortion extremist.
Last week Catelynn posted the following checklist on Instagram with the hashtag #prolife:
Another Twitter user at-replied Catelynn with the comment, “For as long as its daddy isn’t a rapist … I understand your point.” To which Catelynn replied, “Nope, I’ve meet [sic] many adopted children that come from experiences like that. Just b/c there [sic] dad was messed up they can’t live?” The user then responded, “I know, I understand, but mommies’ mental health after rape can damage the baby (lack of dopamine, for instance)…” Catelynn Lowell responded, “That’s a poor excuse to kill an innocent child.” You can read the full conversation here.
According to the blog The Stir, Catelynn and Tyler have done speaking engagements recently for a group called Bethany Christian Services to advocate for adoption. On the tour, which is free to attend, the pair discuss unplanned pregnancy and adoption, alongside adoption professionals from Bethany on hand to answer questions. Although Bethany does include information about abortion on their website, it’s phrased in such a way that indicates they believe abortion is wrong — their advice page, for instance, tells people to inform women considering an abortion that “you believe an abortion will hurt her.”
Let me be clear that I believe a woman always has the right to decisions about her own body. It is no one else’s place to tell a woman whether she should terminate the pregnancy, or carry it to term, or anything else. These are individual, nuanced, private decisions; women deserve our support regardless of what they choose. MTV did a good thing by including Catelynn’s story (and the story of two other teen moms, Brittany and Markai Durham, who chose an abortion) to show there are alternatives to becoming a teenaged parent.
All that being said, Catelynn isn’t just an advocate for adoption. She’s an advocate against abortion as well. Her tweets use anti-abortion rhetoric (“kill an innocent child”) and she’s even against abortion in the case of rape, which is the same extremist anti-abortion position held by conservative Republican politicians like Mike Huckabee and Richard Mourdock. It’s possible to advocate for adoption and still support a woman’s right to choose, but that’s not what Catelynn is doing. She is assuming her choice was the only choice that was the right choice, thus ignoring the very real fact that Catelynn and Tyler’s adoption was a privileged one considering they are both Caucasian (which, unfortunately, helps find an adoptive home) and their child was born without any physical or developmental abnormalities.
I’m sincerely happy that Catelynn and Tyler made the decision that was best for them; my dad and his first wife dropped out of college when they were 21 to raise my eldest sister and I’m happy about that, too. I’m also happy another family member chose to terminate a pregnancy instead of bringing a child into the world that could not have been properly cared for at the time. I’m glad I live in a country where all these choices are viable options supported by the law. My heart broke when Catelynn and Tyler weren’t fully emotionally supported by their families for what they chose to do — Catelynn’s mom, a particular she-beast of a parent on the show, has nastily guilt-tripped her daughter for giving up her child for adoption instead of raising Carly herself. She didn’t deserve to be treated like that, but I also hoped she might learn from it. I wish that her personal adoption happy ending would not be presented as such a black and white decision between “do it my way” or “kill an innocent child.” As a young woman who knows better than most of us what it is like to be 16 years old, pregnant and terrified, I would hope she could show less judgment.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.