Note: The opinions expressed in this guest submission are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Live Action or of Live Action News.
Vogue magazine is globally recognized as a glossy fashion bible for aspiring fashionistas. Its 2003 spinoff, Teen Vogue, started with a similar intent, but over the course of its existence has “evolved” to become more focused on building an inclusive community that speaks to every kind of young person, aiming to foster civic involvement and social responsibility. Teen Vogue’s former editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth commented, “It [Teen Vogue] has become this community of civic minded, really socially-conscious politically active curious ambitious young people who crave the truth who aren’t afraid to speak the truth [sic].” She added, “We don’t see ourselves as liberal or conservative.”
Perfect. So, Teen Vogue ostensibly offers an unbiased place to learn and grow; a place where a variety of viewpoints are welcome – or, better, encouraged. Or so I thought.
I was therefore shocked and saddened to browse a recent edition of Teen Vogue and see an article entitled, “39 Abortion Stories Show Just How Important Abortion Access Is.” Danielle Campoamor published a selection of stories about abortion from 39 people spanning ages 19 to 73. She boldly argues that the 39 stories, each from a unique vantage point, are individual reminders that the right to abortion on demand is not up for debate. “Abortion is normal. Abortion is common,” she writes. “Abortion is one of many reproductive outcomes that nearly one in four women will experience.”
This leaves me a little confused.
Before I continue, allow me to be candid. I have never had an abortion. I have never been faced with the choice of abortion. Being completely transparent, I have never had sex. So, I get it: I don’t know what it’s like to be married two years and end up pregnant like Emily, who knew she didn’t want to have children. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a similar situation to Kerri, whose baby faced a difficult diagnosis. I also don’t know what it’s like to be Marie, who had a three-year-old and a nine-month-old and ended up pregnant with her third child while still breastfeeding her nine-month-old baby. I don’t know. I understand that. It’s tough to make an unequivocal statement when I haven’t been in the situation.
But what I am confused by are the issues of choice and responsibility. We want girl power, but girl power means so much more than doing anything we want without consequence or repercussion. Power comes with responsibility. Responsibility comes from making empowering choices. We all make choices –hundreds of them every day. There are so many choices before the choice of abortion. There are also choices other than abortion. Why would Teen Vogue present only the pro-abortion side of this debate?
Don’t the writers at Teen Vogue have the responsibility to inform teens about the alternative viewpoint on abortion or even the possibilities of adoption? Not once was adoption mentioned by any of the 39 story tellers. Wouldn’t it be responsible to also provide stories from girls and women who had abortions and then regretted their decision? What about those girls and women who didn’t choose abortion, but chose life? Whether they chose adoption or decided to keep their babies, aren’t we owed that by a publication that is “focused on building an inclusive community that speaks to every kind of young person”?
Even more concerning is the assumption that all readers of Teen Vogue support abortion. We don’t. To suggest that all young women think alike is, quite frankly, insulting. Socially-conscious, civic-minded, and pro-life young women exist. Girl power means it’s okay to be smart, strong and independent thinkers (every bit as much as the guys) – and when we’re free to do that, many of us will reject the pro-abortion narrative.
To be clear, I am not writing to chastise these 39 women. I’m writing because Teen Vogue readers deserve to be exposed to more than just a pro-abortion viewpoint.
Throughout the 39 stories there are countless references to what’s forming inside a woman’s uterus when she is pregnant. For example, Alex referred to her developing child as a “cluster of cells.” What Alex calls a “cluster of cells,” I call a baby. There is a subliminal message that is pervasive throughout the stories: If I don’t call “it” a fetus or a baby, then it isn’t a real human being. I’m curious at what point the cluster of cells becomes a baby. Is it at 22 days when the baby’s heart starts beating or maybe at six weeks when the baby’s brain waves are detectable? Or is that “cluster of cells” like the tooth fairy – only made “real” because I believe in it?
Abortion turns the protest slogan, “We won’t go back!” into a tragic reality. Once an abortion is complete, whether we call it a “cluster of cells” or a baby, a unique, irreplaceable life is gone.
So, here’s my message to the scribes of Teen Vogue: Ms. Campoamor, this article is not a responsible look at an issue of any magnitude, let alone the issue of life or death. For every glib story of mashed potatoes providing comfort after an abortion, there is a heart-wrenching story of a woman longing for the baby she never had the opportunity to know. For every story of supposed freedom that abortion provided to a girl or a woman, there is a contrasting story filled with guilt and sadness. For every story of timing gone wrong, there is a story of adoption gone beautifully right.
To the magazine’s editors: You are in a position to empower young women and future leaders. You have the ability to provide a forum for understanding and civil debate. The examples being set by many of our country’s leaders today are too often combative and divisive. Please lead our generation by example in seeking respect and understanding on issues that have lasting implications – especially when innocent human lives are at stake.
Emery Pikel, a high school junior, is the co-founder of a non-profit called Kangaroo Kids, which serves parents of medically fragile children. She has been recognized numerous times for her civic involvement and social activism.
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