Teen Pregnancy: Why Liberals Got It Right

by Kirsten West Savali

Teen Pregnancy

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unleashed his recent elitist, race-tinged, poverty-shaming ad campaigns on the unsuspecting citizens of NYC, allegedly intended to illustrate the pitfalls of teen pregnancy, he sparked a fiery outcry that rages still — and rightfully so.

Toddlers with anxious tear-stained faces are captioned with statistics meant to alarm and shame teens out of having children. One ad even goes so far as to have a little Black girl mock and shame her future mother:

“Honestly mom, chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?

As expected, Planned Parenthood, spoke out against the ads. Haydee Morales, vice president for education and training at Planned Parenthood of NYC, said that the organization was “shocked and taken aback” by the strident tone of the bold campaign, reiterating that “hurting and shaming communities is not what’s going to bring teen pregnancy rates down.”

In a culture where women, particularly women of color — especially women of color living in poverty — are ridiculed and lambasted on a daily basis in the media, stripped of dignity in the face of one-dimensional statistics manipulated to further the already entrenched narrative that poor Black women giving birth is what’s wrong with America, one would think that denouncing this campaign as ineffective and cruel would be a no-brainer, right?

I could not have been more wrong.

In an op-ed for The Root, titled “Why Liberals Are Wrong On Teen Pregnancy,” political correspondent and author, Keli Goff, wrote that the criticism surrounding the campaign was “ridiculous,” “lunacy,” “well-intentioned but misguided.” According to Goff, Planned Parenthood’s position as one of the “nation’s leading sexual-health organizations” should preclude them from being in opposition to the campaign, even in the face of the organization’s “diversity” issues and “privileged” vantage point. Goff further states that PP is “celebrating and encouraging teen pregnancy,” which, in light of their mission, is so baffling to her that she asks her readers: “Did I miss something?”

Obviously I did, because I have not seen one response from Planned Parenthood that even suggests they are in favor of more teen pregnancies. In fact, because that is such a far-fetched accusation to fling, I felt compelled to check — and nothing. Not. One.

To Goff’s credit, she acknowledges that her position is not a popular one among her liberal friends and colleagues and that she fully expected them to tell her as much. And while we are not friends — we’ve never met but I’m sure we’d get along famously — I do admire her career and have rooted for her achievements. When Pat Buchannan told her to shut up on national television in 2008, I even got all sista-girl and said I know he didn’t. The fact that I even clicked on the link to read her article is a testament to the respect that I have for her opinion, but in this case, I found her position to be extremely problematic.

One of the primary criticisms the campaign has received is that it misses its mark. Instead of speaking to potential parents, it casts judgement on those teenagers who already have children, further stigmatizing them and their offspring in front of their peers and society. I emphatically agree. When I see these ads, I envision a resentful, dismissive voice hissing to a young girl staring forlornly at the poster as she waits on the bus to arrive: “Oh we’re not talking to you, your life is already screwed up; we’re trying to save your friend and their unborn children so we don’t have to take care of the little poverty-ridden bastards.”

Extreme? Maybe, maybe not. But the psychological implications of this campaign on teens who are already parents can not, or rather should not — be dismissed as a casualty.

Goff states that she is unconcerned with that stigma; rather she cares more about the stigma that awaits the children of single, teen parents yet to be born “because their parents weren’t ready to realize their full potential as parents while raising them.”

Here’s where I disagree: In the eyes of the law and most households, teenagers are still children.

There is no magical age, say around 11-years-old, that children learn to scream “Expecto Patronum!” in order to shield themselves from the cruelties of a bleak reality. Most teen parents come from broken homes – and by that I don’t mean one-parent households. I’m referring to those that replace love with negligence, discipline with abuse, positive reinforcement with shame. The focus should be on their adult parents, and to a larger degree, the socio-economic and political factors that lead to unstable households, not shaming and victim-blaming little girls at bus-stops.

Unlike Goff, I do not believe that “shame is an effective motivator.”  In fact, I think shame is so counter-productive and cruel that I’m embarrassed that adult politicians and marketing professionals — who care less about communities and more about the bottom line — came up with the idea in the first place.

If we want to talk about ways to reduce teen pregnancies, let’s address the fact that it has dropped by 27 percent in New York City over a period of a decade, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 How, you ask?

The Health Department has a multi-pronged approach to reducing unintended teen pregnancy. It includes the distribution of a pocket-sized guide to clinics where teenagers can get medical care and low-cost or free contraception. The department also partners with clinics in the neighborhoods with the highest teen pregnancy rates, working to improve the quality of health care for teens. In public schools, the Health Department supports the Department of Education’s school-based classes, which provide accurate science-based information and use role-playing to help teenagers learn how to negotiate relationships and practice the skills necessary to make important decisions around reproductive health. In addition, all public high schools distribute condoms in the health resource rooms in each school. Through a combination of increasing education, skills-based learning, and access to quality health care, the Health Department continues to work toward lowering teen pregnancy rates.

No shaming in sight.

But I’ll tell you what has gone up: poverty. Yes, while Bloomberg is using poor, (potential) teen mothers as a red herring to deflect from racial and economic disparities that actually create conditions conducive to teen pregnancies, poverty has gone up — particularly for Black Americans who are faced with a 15.3 percent unemployment rate, while the nation stands at 8.2 percent.

Or how about education. According to “A Rotting Apple: Education Redlining in New York City” published by the Schott Foundation for Public Education:

  • Districts with higher poverty rates have fewer experienced and highly educated teachers and less stable teaching staffs.
  • • Students from low-income New York City families have little chance of being tested for eligibility for gifted and talented programs.
  • Community School Districts with no schools among the top set of schools—with Opportunity to Learn indices of 0.00—are in the city’s poorest neighborhoods of Harlem, the South Bronx, and central Brooklyn. Schools with the highest scores are found in northeastern Queens, the Upper West Side, and the Upper East Side.
Pedro Noguera, education professor at NYU, who wrote the foreword to the report, compared education in NYC to “apartheid.” John Jackson, president of the Schott Foundation, went even more in depth:

This unequal distribution of opportunity by race and neighborhood occurs with such regularity in New York that reasonable people can no longer ignore the role that state and city policies and practices play in institutionalizing the resulting disparate outcomes, nor the role played by the lack of federal intervention requiring New York to protect students from them.

“Unequal learning opportunities for poor students and students of color have become the status quo in New York City. The current policy landscape in New York does very little to give these young people access to the supports, type of schools or qualified teachers that give them a substantive opportunity to learn. We need creative leadership to promote greater equity and alignment so the city no longer relegates our neediest children to the most troubled schools with the most limited resources, thereby limiting their potential for future success.”

It might behoove Bloomberg & Company to focus there instead of attempting to scare children already in a fight against society to keep their legs closed.

In a phone interview I conducted with Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry last year prior to the Democratic National Convention, among the many things we discussed was the stigma attached to being a parent living in poverty in America:

 “I am truly a reproductive rights advocate,” said Dr. Harris-Perry. “I’m not just pro legal abortion…I also believe in highly accessible, insurance covered, hormonal birth controls. I’m also in favor of condoms being distributed in public bathrooms. I’m also in favor of the ability of poor women being able to have children, without being judged and stigmatized because they’re poor women. Just because you’re poor, doesn’t mean you’re not an adequate parent.”

That is what Bloomberg’s campaign is vilifying, poverty. It is not concerned with empowering teenagers not to have children, it is focused on reducing the city’s responsibility for healthcare costs associated with those who do. The bottom line: It is nothing more than capitalism masked as concern.

That is pathetic and it is dishonest. And in denouncing this campaign, liberals got it exactly right.

Follow Kirsten West Savali on Twitter at @KWestSavali.

  • Keshia

    I don’t like these ads at all, I feel like they are attacking women more than helping them in any way

  • http://www.urbanexpressive.com J. Nicole of UrbanExpressive

    Not only are the ads offensive, I think they’re counterproductive and a waste of money. How often do you see teens actually paying attention to a billboard? If they aren’t texting/listening to music/clowning out with friends, or a combo of the three, they’d probably crack jokes or draw on the poster. As mentioned, teen pregnancy is on the decline, and I don’t think shaming them, especially young girls will help. Education is the best policy.

  • http://twitter.com/KiaJD Nakia (@KiaJD)

    Just wanted to say kudos and cosign. I thought Goff’s piece was way off. She made a LOT of baseless assumptions about the way people who work at Planned Parenthood raise their children (nonprofit employees kids are de facto privileged now?), the identity of those employees (only white, wealthy women work there?), and then put words in the “mouth” of a national organization that it did not say.

    What people fail to grasp is that you can actively and staunchly work to reduce unintended and unwanted pregnancies for teenagers while advocating that those same teens are treated with dignity and respect. Shame is not an effective means of change… just look at how STDs fare under the rubric of shame. Instead of encouraging more people to face the facts, folks hide their status or ignore it altogether.

    Sidenote: Interesting how the focus is always on teen moms though, right? As though the sole responsibility for not bringing a life into this world is on young women.

    Full disclosure, I am a former Planned Parenthood employee (who is neither white nor wealthy, btw).

  • Curls&Swirls

    “Planned Parenthood of NYC, said that the organization was “shocked and taken aback” by the strident tone of the bold campaign…” while I’m shocked and taken aback at the fact that I’m under 25 and upwards of 75% of my friends and other acquaintances are a part of this statistic, with the majority of whom started popping out kids in high school. I’m shocked and taken aback with the stride tone of acceptance given to something that is so preventable. No I’m not bashing, children are blessings in my eyes but like I’ve always ask, “Why make it harder for yourself when you don’t have to?” A lot of those that I know that have children were careless about contraception and genuinely feel that “raw sex is the best sex” …and yea, he who hath no sin cast the first stone, so I know what it’s like but damn right it’s the best sex, that’s why God said wait until your married. Every Tom, Dick and Hairy (yes Hairy) shouldn’t be ejaculating inside of you. And of course Planned Parenthood wouldn’t support this campaign, do they not get a lot of their money from the abortions they provide? If I know one person who’s had 5 abortions, that’s over $1000 right there, now multiply that across a county…
    The men need to take responsibility too; these children are not made by one person. Where is the accountability for them?

  • Anon

    I don’t like the way they demonized teenage pregnancy. Most of our female ancestors were teenage mothers.

  • Sasha

    The two aren’t comparable being that our ancestors lived during a much different time, a time when they were teen mothers out of necessity and there was no concept of “teenagers”. It was childhood straight into adulthood.

  • Kay

    I agree that these ads are incendiary and divisive. I was talking with my ultra-conservative sister the other day and after telling her that attacking teen pregnancy was a multi-pronged approach, including mentoring teens, she said, “Why should we take time out of our busy schedules to mentor teens because some lazy parent didn’t want to raise their children? It’s not THAT hard to be a parent.” As much as I love my sister, I realized she was speaking from a point of privilege. She and I had an entire support system geared towards pushing us to succeed. Even in the face of her company’s possible financial failure and the threats to her homeownership, our family and friends, including myself, rallied around her, helping until her company got back onto its feet. The are a lot of people living in poor areas with NO support at all. No one to tell them how to navigate their way about our modern world.

    The problem with this conservative ideology is that it denies the systemic racism and classism inherent in institutions and public policy. It places the onus onto the individual in a kind of laissez-faire, pseudo-meritocratic way, reinforcing the existing inequities while pandering to the idea that anyone can make it. I’ve met young kids that didn’t even understand the basics of opening a checking or savings account. How then, could they just magically understand the realities of sex and parenting? I then reminded my dear sister that she had begun having sex when she was just a teen, the only difference is that our mother made sure she was on birth control and understood the need for condoms and prophylactics. The problem with our society right now is not only are we apathetic, but when we do spur ourselves into action it’s only to judge. And we judge as if our own experiences are the sterling examples of propriety when we are all engaged in many of the same behaviors. We need to stem this by addressing core issues, including poverty and access to family planning services.

  • Kay

    Exactly! I’ve heard that statistics show that teen pregnancy has gone down across the board, as some teens are actually listening to adults who, instead of shaming them are actually giving them valuable information.

  • MimiLuvs

    Re: Teen pregnancy prevention, shaming and threatening.
    First off, I would luke to mention that I understand the objective of using shame tactics/threats (“If you become pregnant, you’re out!”) to prevent teen pregnancies, but I don’t tolerate them.
    From my experience, they do not work. I knew two teen girls, who are now dead because of the potential shaming that they thought that they would face. I recently found out that I had an aunt. She passed away in 1972, from complications of a botched, illegal abortion.
    I believe education is the key.

  • donnadara

    Planned Parenthood is non-profit. And if you believe that PP operates so that it can make money on abortions, you really don’t know anything. I’m sad for your ignorance. Have a look at the Guttmacher Institute if you are interested in real statistics about teen parenting and abortion. And I also suspect that you are lying about knowing someone who’s had 5 abortions, because you want to bolster your ridiculous argument.

  • Wanda

    I just don’t see those wild kids on the subway at 3 pm paying attention to any of this anyway. Sorry.

  • http://airindanyell.tumblr.com Erin

    The money wasted on these ads could be used to actually properly educate teenagers (and adults who definitely still need it) about sex so that they’ll understand pregnancy is 100% preventable. Shaming someone isn’t going to stop them from doing what they want, but they could know what precautions to take so they don’t end up pregnant before they want to be and could potentially prevent diseases/HIV. I still feel that in 2013, with so many different ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy available, that people that get pregnant must actually want to get pregnant… unless a woman was a victim of rape, pregnancy is preventable. Nobody is immaculately conceiving.

  • http://elegantblackwoman.blogspot.com Elegance

    Who says the rates won’t go back up? This post actually mentioned that poverty has increased and that with increased poverty teen pregnancy rates go up. So based on that reasoning then pregnancy rates might start going up again.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Here we go again…

    If the posters said, “Hey parents of teens that are likely to become teen parents: replace love with negligence, discipline with abuse, positive reinforcement with shame.” I would be in support of those too.

    Why is there such an aversion to promoting personal responsibility here on Clutch? “I want free condoms, and then if I decide not to use said free condoms, I want free health care, housing and food for myself and my child. I would also be open to taking a well-paying job with benefits that the government creates out of thin air.”


  • Cia Bia

    The ads were just super ineffective and pointless and rather insulting. They need to go back to the drawing board. I do think that efforts need to be made to further decrease teen pregnancy, until it gets to almost zero there is more work to be done.

    I will have to make what will probably be an unpopular comment about what Melissa Harris-Perry (and I really like her) said “Just because you’re poor, doesn’t mean you’re not an adequate parent.” I agree that lacking proper financial resources doesn’t mean you not an adequate parent but it does mean that you should WAIT to start your family. Children need proper food, clothing, shelter, etc. not just love and the desire to be a good parent. Adding a child to an already financially volatile (or lacking) situation makes it much worse. Family planning is so important in moving forward in life and I think many people need family planning assistance, NOT shaming.

  • Curls&Swirls

    I agree, Before I get back to my work I’ll just say that I support the campaign because this effects us all…I’m a little salty because I pay market price rent in an area with one of the highest costs of living in the nation while others pay less than what I was paying my momma for rent when I lived with her after graduating from undergrad; maybe I’m a little bent out of shape because my tax refund is only a drop in a bucket compared to some of my single parent friends; maybe I feel like others should feel the same shock factor I experienced when I was told on multiple occasions, the best thing for you would be to have a baby – you need food stamps? Well maybe if you have a kid… or just being asked how many children I have or the shock that I’ve never had an abortion or kids…

    In all, I support the campaign. Although, this won’t stop young Shayla or old but not wise Monique from subjecting themselves to this, I like the shock value and reality of it. We have all these sensitive, weak kids because they are so sheltered from reality. Oh, and I appreciate how they displayed diversity with the kids pictured. How cute. : )

  • lol

    You have issues.

  • Chika

    Hello folks. It looks like we have another troll. Let’s see how long it takes for Clutch moderators to catch on.


    @ Donnadara
    I know some who has had several abortions, are you now going to call me a liar too?.

  • Blue

    I’m on the fence about these ads. Some of them have some sad truth to it whether no matter how you cut it. We all know teen pregnancy is a problem that won’t easily go away. I know adults that are just as reckless as the kids when it comes to unwanted pregnancies. Why don’t parents & teachers educate their kids on the responsibility of raising a child when you are not financially & emotionally ready.

  • Come On

    Completely agree. Liberals are so quick to offer up excuses and blame poverty when people start talking about personal responsibility. Why is it wrong to tell people to close their legs or keep it in their pants? It’s because they don’t want to be held accountable. Folks would rather spend time writing articles about how the government should spend more to help women raise kids that they irresponsibly brought into this world rather than telling girls and women to be more responsible or telling mothers to do better.

    “That is what Bloomberg’s campaign is vilifying, poverty. It is not concerned with empowering teenagers not to have children, it is focused on reducing the city’s responsibility for healthcare costs associated with those who do.”

    The city SHOULD try to encourage teenagers not to make irresponsible decisions. If this city is only do it to save money, I don’t really care. Can’t say that I blame them. The government has to pick up the tab for stupid and irresponsible actions.

    I know there are people who use the system correctly. I am not for eliminating these programs, but this coddling of irresponsible people is a BIG part of the problem. Clutch and many black people have no problem attacking deadbeats and sorry dads, but when people start to point out the mother’s role, it’s a problem then. Men should keep it in their pants. They should wear a condom. They should man up. But you’d better not tell mothers to keep their legs closed or use some form of birth control or read a parenting book.

  • bob

    Oh the realness of this post. I applaud you woman. I applaud you.

  • Camille

    I thought this was a great article. :)

  • P

    I believe this is the norm within every major city: “Unequal learning opportunities for poor students and students of color have become the status quo…” This problem just adds to the already existing poor circumstances. If the children are being raised in a poor environment without proper sexual education and witnessing poor relationships, they become hopeless and dreams aren’t nurtured on either end. I think a lot of teenagers view the option to have a baby as a way out of bad situations. Ads such as these don’t help because the teenagers may already feel hopeless. So we have to provide information about proper family planning, the value of education, and show tough love (tell the truth). Having kids before you are financially prepared, not only is more likely to keep you in poverty, but your chances of creating generational wealth is slim to none (maybe I should just say harder). While this ad isn’t helping deter teenage pregnancies, maybe we can take from it truths and apply it as a part of sexual education to help teenagers make better decisions.

    And the responsibilities of the parents have shifted as well. That was the first lessoned preached ~ don’t have any out-of-wedlock kids. We were scared to death to bring a baby home; young and unmarried (the girls and the boys). I just think people/parents/society have made the decision to have a baby acceptable. Why are teenagers still getting pregnant? By 13 – 14, they know where babies come from? If they know how to sneak around, they are aware of where to obtain condoms from. Not blaming the teens, but I really think it an issue of misplaced priorities.

    For these major cities, I agree the main concern is capitalism. If they really cared about the state of those children on the ads, restoring hope would have been included. They are aware of how these teenagers live and what type of education is being received. They realize it is a hopeless situation which oftentimes leads to poor decision making and resulting to shame won’t eradicate anything. As always (and rightfully so), the parents have to start back stepping in and taking on more of an authoritative role for their children. After all, they are still children.

  • P

    Side note: the little girl in the blue is soo cute! I’ll take care of her.

  • victoria

    Absolutely 100% agree

  • Truth

    So much truth in this post. Which I could give it 2 thumbs up.

  • Emy

    I totally agree with what the author said. Shaming people especially teens is not going to help. It is indeed awkward but parents need to take the time to teach their kids about sex and what can happen. It’s hard because teens are having sex at a very young age now.

    Side note: That Harry Potter reference made me chuckle, totally unexpected!

  • I got sense!

    Ya hear me! Tell ‘em again.

  • Dave

    So what’s the non-elitist, race tinged, poverty shaming way to say that becoming a teen parent is a dumb decision? Wait, are we allowed to say that?

  • vonmiwi

    I find it interesting that some of you can be so complacent and generally ignore the rampant poverty that can possibly happen when a girl or young mother is left to raise a child alone and yet continually blame things like this on racism and other society issues.

    There are some young people who perhaps don’t exercise the best judgment and I won’t judge anyone on that basis alone, but we need to acknowledge the truth and admit what choices and personal responsibilities makes in ones life.

    The need to be politically correct not only stifles the truth, but it makes many of you ignore our real problems by not being brave enough to address them without fear of criticism.

    As a country we keep looking the other way because the truth is so painful and where does it leave us?

    The campaign may not help all, but it may help a few, either way, it’s a start.

  • Chic Noir

    Well said.

  • Chic Noit

    This has got to be a different Anon. It can’t be BWE anon.

    Anyway, the world was a different place when our female ancestors got pregnant, they were either married before or shot gun married. People helped each other whether family or neighbors because we were all we had. Plus… Most people worked on a farm or factory so you didn’t need a college education to ” make something of yourself”.

  • http://www.chicnoir.wordpress.com chicnoir

    Why don’t we make it easier for teens to get birth control. I read a study about teens in France and Scandanavia, on average that has as much sex as American teens do but the rates of teen pregnancy are far lower.

  • Mikela123

    The bottom line is: Will this campaign lower the rates of teen pregnancy?

    According social policy experts, educators, counselors, and anyone else who work with teens – the answer is NO. End of discussion.

    The only reason to keep these posters up at this point is to allow some of us to feel self-righteous and morally superior to these girls. That’s all.

  • http://goofyredhead.wordpress.com activist_researcher

    Thank you for this important post. The story of these shameful teen pregnancy “prevention” ads is critical and worthy of continuing coverage. In fact many of these “facts” are not even true as advertised. Find out why on this new blog about the campaign: http://www.wrongdirection4nyc.wordpress.com

  • E.M.S.

    Sexual education, access to contraception and having a trustworthy mentor/guardian/parent to go to are the best defenses against teen pregnancy in my opinion.

    If kids knew they had someone to talk to, someplace to get what they need, and someplace to learn more, I think we’d see a significant decrease in the teen pregnancy rate. We need ads that showcase that kind of information, not the stuff Bloomberg has going on.

  • Ooh La La

    Why not shame? Honestly?

    Provide for a child when you can’t even provide for yourself. That’s shameful. I, personally, would be embarrassed. It’s shameful that SOME of these people bring children into this world who they are not emotionally and financially able to take care of, yet do so carelessly because they know they can seek public assistance.

    The only argument I’ve read here, is “Oh, don’t make them feel bad about it. They weren’t properly educated about contraception.”

    Please, show me these teens who don’t know about condoms and birth control! Please! They know all about preventative measures, but they CHOOSE, for all sorts of ridiculous reasons (i.e. preferring the feel of unprotected sex), to irresponsibly neglect those options.

    Now, I’m all for putting funds toward teaching them about the real statistics and costs of raising a child. Also, the personal sacrifice and emotional investment involved. That’s the one thing I think most teen parents don’t have a grasp on. Too many teens don’t take it seriously – a child is not a doll that you can just put on the shelf when you’re tired of dealing with them. They require a LOT of time and money. I think maybe if they had a real, honest breakdown of all a child’s needs and the approximate cost, that might help.

  • Hey

    Instead of criticizing someone else’s attempt at a solution, conceive and implement a viable solution of your own. Otherwise, your words hold little weight in the grand scheme of things. We need more solutions and less complainin’.

  • Mikela123

    “Why not shame? Honestly?”

    Because it doesn’t work.

  • Common Sense

    I cannot say that I am angry about the ads. Poverty is a result of teen parenting. Maybe not every teen mom ends up in poverty, but the majority do. Perhaps these ads will have a positive effect, hopefully. Because some children in the inner city don’t have parents to explain to them that they can have a better life if they just make the right choices, or at least try to. Raising children is a difficult task. It should be an endeavor taken up by TWO parents who are in the child’s life on a DAILY basis!!!! Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but the inner cities were never like this when I was growing up.
    Poverty sucks!

  • Ooh La La

    And what does work exactly?

    Because what doesn’t work is refusing to inform these teens about the consequences of their choices and actions – allowing them to make adult decisions without adult accountability.

  • Allie

    I agree. It doesn’t work. True, there are a lot of kids having sex, true, there are a lot of irresponsible kids having sex, and maybe some of them don’t take accountability for their action, but you know what? A lot of adults don’t either. There’s a lot of adults that know the consequences of their action and still participate in risky behavior, so this thing about maturity is bullshit. If you want kids to make better decisions about sex then you need to inform them not sexually repress them, because that’s what shaming does.

  • Anon

    Yes, different times, but if you demonize the pregnancy, you demonize the birth, the product of the birth.

  • Curls&Swirls

    Why would I need to refer to the Guttmacher Institute to tell me about MY friends? (The only “statistic” mentioned in my comment) Planned Parenthood is a non-profit and that’s about the only correct claim you mentioned and I never said “PP operates so it can make money for abortions” (please enter confused face emoiji here) like some folks on Twitter say now, #SWERVE …I’ll keep it simple, check out their Wikipedia page; this isn’t for school so yes I’m referencing wiki: “Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S.[6] In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions (for comparison, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the US in 2008[84]), from which it derives about $164,154,000, or 15% of its annual revenue as of their 2008-2009 calculations.” Maybe you can use your reference to find data for more recent years?

    “Suspicion is a mental picture seen through an imaginary keyhole.” My comment was my opinion and you have yours, but until you have been in the positions I have holding the hand of a line sister during a procedure or being that shoulder that my best friend soaked with tears because of her shame each time she had an abortion up to #5, I would have to say that your judgement my dear is what’s ridiculous. I’m always there to console my friends, but at the end of the day, each and every one of them articulated the fact that we are all given the freedom of choice, and every choice has a consequence.

    And by the way, it is a myth that non-profits cannot make money/revenue/income. Nonprofits not only can make money, they do. Don’t get confused with “not-for-profit”. The Girl Scouts organization is non-profit but I guess you would figure that they don’t make money from cookie sales… This was just a brief intro, I start teaching class in the Fall. You can register at http://www.readingisfundamental.edu

  • http://elegantblackwoman.blogspot.com Elegance

    I agree. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to use a condom. Shaming used to work that’s why in the past teen pregnancy rates were lower. Pregnant teen girls were shamed and sent to special schools so they would not influence the other girls. They were not given daycare centers in their high schools and applauded. I’m sure that in the past there were plenty of poor parents, absent parents, or parents who were too busy for their kids. In the past many parents didn’t even talk to their kids about sex and there was no sex ed.

    The difference now is that having sex anyplace, any time, and at a young age is condoned and no one shames teens for doing it anymore. It’s been normalized. Shame works for plenty of things. Plus, if all of these mentorship and educational programs are so much better then why is the teen pregnancy rate still so high? That stuff “doesn’t work” perfectly either. It’s posssible to use more than one approach. Shame may work well for some teens while education works better for others.

    I think there isn’t enough shame in this world otherwise teens wouldn’t be posting half naked photos and texting them, making sex tapes, and acting the fool all day long.

  • http://elegantblackwoman.blogspot.com Elegance

    “Why is there such an aversion to promoting personal responsibility here on Clutch? “I want free condoms, and then if I decide not to use said free condoms, I want free health care, housing and food for myself and my child. I would also be open to taking a well-paying job with benefits that the government creates out of thin air.”

    I KNOW! The sense of entitlement is incredible! Why do people expect everyone else to educate and take care of them when they mess up? These are the same people who are probably opposed to making people work or get drug testing if they are on public assistance. They expect to just be given the money without the government having any say about who gets the money. Why should tax payers have to pay for you?

    Here’s a thought, if more of you teens stop getting pregnant then the governement could spend more money one education and creating jobs instead of paying for your welfare! That would be a better use of funds! But no one thinks of that. They act like the money comes out of thin air and has no affect on the rest of us who chose to not be teen parents or seek social assistance. Some of us didn’t even talk about sex with our parents but we picked up a freaking book and learned about sex instead of waiting on someone to teach us. People need to be more pro-active and seek out the information they need instead of waiting around for someone to place it in their lap.People who do that will always have problems.

  • JNoire

    A thousand times yes! This is what I wanted to say! Thank you for putting this so eloquently!

  • JNoire


  • Jackie

    You people are uneffing believable. This is a great tactic. These kids especially now a days give most of their attention to media. They spend hours upon hours on tumblr. This is the perfect tactic to reach them. Obviously what has been done in the past has NOT worked. Why are you so upset? Because a rich white man put his stamp of approval on it? Well where are our Black male leaders? Yoohoo maybe behind that bush over their? Maybe chasing that ambulance over there? GET OVER IT!!!

    And I’m not really sure how warning young people to not squander their potential is shaming. Someone please explain that to me. We have a whole generation of teens with 32 year old parents. And guess what? They’re all poor. Get the picture? You people get up in arms about the wrong ish. Yall get on my damn nerves. These are peoples lives we’re talking about here. The unborn generation, who still has a chance. Your hurt feelings don’t matter. AT ALL!!! So stop making them.

  • Michelle

    Yesss! You said it so much better than I could even think it!

  • MIkela123

    Wow, why are so many of you being deliberately obtuse regarding this?

    First of all, teen pregnancy rates are much lower than it was 20 years ago, and are at all time lowest rates in this country – lower than when, you know, shaming was in style back in the day. What worked? Access to contraception, abortion, sex education, counseling, – these are PROVEN strategies. Showing them opportunities beyond high school, increasing self-esteem and having a knowing sense of control of your body. These things work.

    As for shaming – come on now, shaming women and girls for their sexual behavior has been done since the beginning of time – with limited results. And it usually resulted in catastrophe for women . Shaming used to lead girls to have illegal dangerous abortions and hide rape and sexual abuse, Women commit suicide because they’re unable to deal with the shame, or in some parts of the world today men KILL their female family members because of shame. Why are you so wiling to cling to such an outdated, dangerous philosophy?

    But ultimately the criticisms surrounding this campaign is not just about the content – its an investment in MONEY. Why not put the money towards resources PROVEN to work instead of some feel-good (for those of us who “know better’”) idea that is pretty much established not very helpful or will do any real good?

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    I’m all for the ads, but at the same time, Bloomberg and Co. contradicts themselves by creating a law in which people can be arrested on suspicion of prostitution if they carry more than four condoms (a measure that deters teens from having safer sex).

  • MommieDearest


    It’s been my observation, among family members, friends and aquaitances, that most teens do not get pregnant due to lack of knowlege or lack of access to birth control. They get pregnant because they “don’t like the feel of condoms” “don’t like taking pills” ” he always pulls it out *eye roll*” “it won’t happen to me” “I can just get an abortion if I get pregnant”… The excuses are endless. Sadly enough, there are teens who get pregnant purposely for whatever reasons. Many of them see nothing wrong with becoming a parent before graduating high school. Being a “baby mama” and “baby daddy” is cute. It’s cool.

    And, unfortunately, sex is used as recreation. It’s no longer viewed as a sacred act of love between two responsible, consenting adults who are committed to one-another. It’s simply a way to pass the time. Until this mindset is addressed, no amount of sex education and free birth control you throw at the situation will change it.

    As for the billboards, I don’t have a problem with them. They are too late for the teen who is already a parent, but if they get a few teens who aren’t parents to think twice before they act, then it’s worth the effort.

  • Anthony

    Bloomberg and that condom law is another example of him trying to micromanage the world!

  • Anthony

    You hit the nail on the head! This ad is not aimed at young woman who are already mothers, it is about making sexually active or potentially sexually active teens think twice before they seriously complicate their lives with a baby.

  • Wong Chia Chi

    I love how this debate ignores the fact that some women, especially WoC and women who have more body fat than average CANNOT take hormonal birth control without suffering terrible side effects.

    The mildest I had was when I took Nuevaring. I had migraines that would LAY ME OUT for like a day and a half. I stopped taking it recently because I’m not sexually active and the hormonal change has made me break out when I’ve never had acne in my life, and I’ve gained some weight.

  • Afrostyling

    Keep deceiving yourselves as your OOW rate continues to increase. Keep making everything about race as if those billboards are not true. You would rather blame everybody but yourselves. Those billboards are true. Get over it! And Liberals happen to be the most racist people on the planet. Some of you black folks could definitely do wit some conservatism in your lives!

  • http://www.facebook.com/SoyAbby Amber Abbigail Barbara

    All of them? No, not all of them. My parents ere teen parents, neither are poor and I’m not poor. They were good parents, I’m in college, and I don’t have children. I know a lot of teen parent’s who are, and some that are doing okay. Usually it is irresponsible choices, sometimes rape, sometimes just desire to have one that have gotten them pregnant. It may be ‘wrong’ now, but as far as our generation all having young parents (and I would say it’s only about half of the people I know), it used to pretty common for people to get married young and have babies, so please don’t pretend like it’s their parenting you’re really concerned about.

  • Kema

    Yes! @mlkela… shaming never worked. The girls that got pregnant were just removed from sight. Give them birth control. My mother told me that her sex talk with her mother was one sentence long. “Don’t let anyone look under your dress”. Surely we know better now.

  • Shaming solves nothing

    Some of these comments are atrocious, I don’t think you all realize that the teens this ad targets are already in poverty. Some have already lived and breathed all of the “facts” in this ad, maybe they were even raised by teen mothers. Many of the “better” life opportunities wouldn’t be available to them regardless. Their inadequate educations and lack of resources has already significantly decreased their chances of finishing school, or going on to college. Since when has spewing out of context statistics ever changed anything? Why do we feel the need to shame our young women instead of giving them the power to make informed decisions and access to birth control? Let’s face the facts, teens are going to have sex these programs are pure tomfoolery. In my rural Georgia high school I was taught this philosophy of sex education. I was told to wait, I was taught that taking birth control came with a slew of side effects and that it was not healthy for young girls. Never once did my teacher offer a condom or teach us how to use one properly. Nor did he ever mention where we could find access to free reproductive services. My teacher instead chose to spout this shaming philosophy. My parents echoed shaming philosophy at home, they judged any young pregnant woman they saw. My father made no qualms about telling me that if I were ever to become pregnant that he would disown me. So imagine how I felt my sophomore year of high school when I realized I was pregnant? I had never had sex without a condom and couldn’t understand how it had happened.(it wasn’t till later that I found out that my boyfriend was a 16 year old nut job who liked to poke holes in our condoms.) I wasn’t on birth control at the time, because when I asked my parents for it my father IMMEDIATELY vetoed that one. He said that birth control would make me want to have sex.There was no way I could obtain birth control without my parents consent. Long story short, my mother found out about my pregnancy and forced me to terminate it. It was the best thing she could have done for me. My point in sharing this story is to show that these tactics don’t work (half of the girls in my graduating class had either multiple pregnancies or children). Instead of shaming our young women we need to educate them, and not just about sex. I mean let’s give them a real education not the stilted bullshit I was taught in school. Let’s pour more money into education, and pay our teachers more. Let’s teach our young women about all the great women that have come before them. We need to open doors and give them real opportunities, not shame them with insensitive bill boards and tie their hands with restrictive reproductive rights.

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