When I was in high school, a girl a few years older than me got pregnant. The rumour mill swirled and whispers were exchanged in the hallways as she passed by, her baby bump growing everyday. She was met with little more than judgmental stares, raised eyebrows… And the knowledge that she and her baby were the subject of many conversations. Even as a member of the school’s small Pro-Life Club, I did nothing to allay the judgment of her teen pregnancy or defend her position, typically sitting quietly and uncomfortably when such conversations took place in my presence, figuring anything I offered would be ignored or shot down.

Leading the group with an eager step

Years have passed and this girl and her baby had all but slipped my mind. Recently, however, I was sitting in the car, picking up my siblings from school for the first time in years, waiting impatiently for the streams of children to pour out from the school doors so I could get on with my day.

The final school bell rang and out burst the pack, with a little girl, about 5 or 6 years, carrying her bright pink lunch back and wearing a huge smile, leading the group with an eager step. I watched in amusement as she waved to someone on the other side of the parking lot and skipped with excitement in their direction. When she reached the far side, she grabbed the hand of a person I immediately recognized. She was that same girl from school. Then the two of them started what was probably their daily, mother-daughter trek home. I found myself wiping away tears, struck with feelings of both awe and guilt.

Teen pregnancy puts pressure on us too

Unplanned or teen pregnancy put pressure on the woman involved, and on the rest of us too. The Eighth Amendment means that Ireland is a country where an unplanned pregnancy can turn to unplanned joy, the joy of a child who gives unconditional love. But women can’t do this alone. They need to know that they won’t be left to bring up their child with no help if they don’t opt for the false choice of abortion. One of the reasons I’m part of the pro-life movement is because I want to help improve the supports offered to women who are facing tough situations so that they never feel the need to end the life of their baby.

By Grace Enright