We never thought we'd be mentioning 16 and Pregnant and "teachable moment" in the same sentence, but then last night happened.
In special episode of the MTV reality show titled No Easy Decision, teen mom Markai Durham made the difficult decision to have an abortion.
And now the reactions are in from both sides of the political spectrum...
"MTV's No Easy Decision...serves as a teachable moment for parents and teens about the importance of open and honest communication," Planned Parenthood said in a statement to E! News, heralding the episode for its "thoughtful portrayal" of a young couple confronting the consequences of an unintended pregnancy. "We at Planned Parenthood hope that more parents will have conversations about birth control and safer sex with their teens now that teen pregnancy and parenthood is in the pop culture spotlight."
For the counterpoint, we go to Erin R. Brown, a staff writer for the Culture and Media Institute, a conservative-leaning organization dedicated to promoting a fair portrayal of social conservatives. Brown told E! News the program didn't go nearly far enough to include all aspects of the realities of abortion.
"In the ensuing discussion, Dr. Drew sat down with Markai and [baby daddy] James and she said, 'Nobody ever wants to have an abortion,' and I personally was disappointed that Dr. Drew chimed in and informed her an abortion is still a choice, it's not a requirement," said Brown. "He just kind of let that go. The discussion was not taken to that next level as far as that reality of abortion as far as the fetus was involved [which islife-ending ]."
Unwed teen mothers like Durham have become tabloid fodder these days largely thanks to MTV's 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, with the conservative Parents Television Council claiming the network has sexualized teens. (The PTC declined to comment on the abortion episode.)
In a preemptive move, Durham had taken to her Facebook page before the show aired Tuesday to discuss her decision, which she mostly attributed to her and James' inability to afford another child.
"I thought I was on birth-control," Durham wrote. "I thought I was protected I thought this would have never been anything [sic] I would have to go through. But it just shows you...you will never know. I don't blame anyone but myself for it though.
"No one wants to have an abortion or even go through this type of procedure," added Markai. "I never did it because I thought it was the right thing to do. I did it because it was the BEST thing to do for my family."
MTV aired No Easy Decision at 11:30 p.m., an hour and a half later than 16's normal time slot. It followed the program with the Q&A session with Dr. Drew, in which she noted her "mixed emotions."
"I wouldn't choose abortion as a first option for anyone, but it was the best decision for me," said Durham. "I know I'll make it through."