I was replying to a comment from one of my wonderful readers today, and it made me think of a show I watched on TV many years ago in the 1990s. The series was called HBO Lifestories: Families in Crisis. These shows dealt with pressing issues in society involving kids, families, and communities. They were all based on true stories, with the real people involved interviewed at the end. I’m pretty sure I saw them all, but the one that hit me the hardest and I never forgot was “Public Law 106: The Becky Bell Story.”
Becky Bell was a senior in high school. She and her boyfriend, also a senior, were both good kids and both had earned scholarships to college. They came from good families, volunteered in their community, loved their parents, and loved each other. Naturally, as human beings do, they expressed their love for each other in many ways, including having sex.
Becky finds herself pregnant, though they had taken precautions. She and her boyfriend (I’m sorry, but I do not remember his name, but not because I did not find him important in the story) discuss what in the world they should do. Becky was close to turning 18, in just a matter of weeks, if I recall. Her boyfriend was already 18.
They loved each other and were planning on getting married, but they knew not only would this unplanned pregnancy possibly derail their college plans, but worse, what were their parents going to think. They discuss how disappointed their parents would be with their decision not to wait to have sex, as well as the fact that now a pregnancy has resulted and all their future dreams for their children changed. They decide, though they love each other, they cannot destroy their parents with this news – they cannot risk their parents’ disappointment, and loss of trust, respect, and love.
They decide a secret abortion is the way they must handle this. Though they are adults in some respects, they are also still just kids, trying to find their way, lacking experience and the skills to understand the consequences of their actions. Because Becky is not yet 18, and due to Indiana’s Public Law 106, she must either have her parent’s consent or get a judge’s permission. Again, telling her parents, in her mind, would be so devastating that she had to figure out how to do this without them knowing. The judge would not grant her permission, insisting Becky speak with her parents. Becky & her boyfriend decide there is no way on earth they can tell their parents.
Becky can ask to see another judge, but since time is of the essence, it would take too long to get on another docket. She heard about a place that did them illegally, across the state line if I recall. Regardless, she takes a bus several hours away to have the procedure, and then takes the bus back to where she parked her car. Once she returns home, she is obviously not well, running a fever.
The next day, she is still quite ill, yet tells her mother there is no need to go to the doctor, she just has the flu or something. At one point she gets up to go the bathroom, and there is blood all over her bed. Not knowing any better, she thinks she is having her period, so a doctor would not know she had been pregnant.
As she gets out of bed, and staggers to the bathroom door, she shouts, “Ok, mom, I’ll go to the doctor, if you want.” Then she collapses on the floor. Her parents find her, she is rushed to the hospital, where she subsequently DIES. A beautiful, smart, caring, loving young woman with great promise loses her life. This family loses their daughter, and I am sure felt full of blame, as well as the young man who was in love with her.
As I am watching this, my four-year-old daughter is playing within eyeshot. As I look at her, I think – This could’ve been me. This could’ve been any of my friends. This could be my daughter someday. On that thought, I cried as if I knew Becky Bell personally. I’m sorry, but to me it was personal. The thought of anyone losing their daughter this way was soul-wrenchingly horrifying to me.
Should Becky have talked to her parents – yes certainly she should have. BUT she didn’t. Should she have been having sex as a teenager in high school – probably not, but do you actually remember what it was like to be a teenager? Right wrong good bad – they do it – it’s human nature. Should she have died for these mistakes, poor decisions, and short-comings? Absolutely not!!
I am not trying to change your mind about your beliefs, just hoping you realize women who find themselves in positions where they feel this is the only choice they can make at the time for whatever reason – these women are not murderers, nor are they happy or thrilled, or remotely proud or comfortable with their decisions. They do, however, feel that they are backed into a corner with no other solution – desperate. EVEN if there was a better solution, they didn’t see it at the time! Have we not all been short-sighted at some point in time?
Do I agree with them – maybe not. But I will not call them sinners.
I am not perfect, and I can be on occasion judgmental – but I am not God and it is not my job to approve of or forgive these women for what many call a sin. This is why I am pro-choice. This is why I do not think middle-aged men in suits should make healthcare and life-changing decisions for women, particularly women they do not know.
Walk a mile in their shoes first – and let thee who has not sinned cast that first stone.
They are all somebody’s daughters.
I don’t know – just something I was thinking about . . .