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Life Lessons, Difficult Decisions

May 23, 1997|DENNIS McLELLAN

Jennifer, a 16-year-old high school junior in a red T-shirt and blue jeans, had come to the weekly teen clinic at the Planned Parenthood medical center in Anaheim for birth control pills.

She had been to the clinic only once before, two months earlier, after taking a home pregnancy test and thinking she was pregnant.

She was.

Both she and her boyfriend had agreed on what she would do if the test administered at the medical center confirmed her pregnancy.

"I had an abortion," she said. "They told me a clinic where I could go to get the procedure done."

Her decision "was really hard," she said.

Did she keep her abortion from her parents?

"Yeah," she said. "I kept it quiet."

Is the boy her first boyfriend?

"Yeah."

Whose idea was it for her to get on birth control pills?

"It was both of ours," she said. "He wanted me to do it before. We just never really got around to it and now we made sure we did."

Had she given any thought that she might get pregnant?

"No," she said. "I didn't think it would happen to me."

Why not?

"I don't know," she said. "I was blind, I guess."

What did her boyfriend do when she told him she was pregnant?

"He started crying. He didn't really have much to say. He was in shock."

Were they having sex a lot before she got pregnant?

"Yeah, like seven months."

So she thought she was invincible?

Jennifer laughed.

"Yeah."

Does she have any advice to other teenagers?

"If you're going to have sex, use a condom. Definitely. After I had the abortion we used a condom every time and then they gave me a month's supply of [birth-control] pills, so I came back to get more."

What are her parents' feelings on abortion?

"They're against it."

So they wouldn't want to hear that she had one?

"No way."

Did she have a position on abortion before she had one?

"Well, I'd always thought it was, like, wrong. But I always thought to myself, like, if it happened to me, what would I do? So I never was, like, totally against it. Like, I hated girls that did it, but I wasn't really for it."

Jennifer had come to the clinic this day with a girlfriend who was also going to get on birth control pills.

Do Jennifer's other girlfriends use birth control?

"She's the only one I really know that has it," she said. "She was on birth control and she came off of it because she and her boyfriend broke up, but now she's getting back on it. My other friends really aren't sexually active."

What would Jennifer have done if she hadn't gone to Planned Parenthood when she thought she was pregnant?

"I probably would have gone to my family doctor."

Would that have been harder?

Jennifer grinned.

"Yeah," she said, "because I know him."

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