Throughout three seasons of MTV's 16 and Pregnant, teens grapple with unplanned pregnancy in one of two ways. They either decide to raise the baby, or they give the baby up for adoption. None of them go with that unnamed third option: aborting the baby.
That just changed. In a special episode called "No Easy Decision" (December 28, 11:30 p.m. ET), MTV's cameras follow 19-year-old Markai Durham (of 16 and Pregnant, Season 3) as she decides to abort her second baby.
Just last month, viewers tagged along during Durham's first experience with unplanned pregnancy. An African-American girl on a show usually devoted to lighter-skinned teens, Durham was sassy and headstrong, but admittedly unconcerned about practicing safe sex. She smiled limply and shook her head when her mother asked about it. "Condoms be all in the way, pretty much," said James, her white, dreadlocked, cheating boyfriend (whose speech was so mumbled that MTV had to use subtitles).
Like Teen Mom's Amber Portwood, Durham stirred up controversy when MTV aired footage of her slapping James during an argument. (Unlike Portwood's situation, the police didn't investigate the incident.) With this special episode, Durham's bringing the network more publicity. Just months after she delivered their daughter, Za'Karia, she (and James) conceived again. "I thought I was on birth-control," she wrote on her Facebook page. "I don't blame anyone but myself for it though. I should have educated MYSELF on the medicine that would be transferred into my OWN BODY."
Durham felt that abortion was the right way to handle this second pregnancy. "I still did what was BEST," she wrote. "I'm a 19 year old with a one year old with only a high school diploma with a 20 year old wonderful man with only a high school diploma."
Naturally, pro-life groups and bloggers disagree, and several have weighed in with their disapproval. (Here's one entry by blogger Jill Stanek, who calls Durham "depressingly ignorant about fetal development.")
Sadly, there is no bright side to the abortion quandary, and there never will be. As Durham herself wrote, "One thing we can all agree on is no one is pro-abortion! (no one with a heart at least)." But sadder still is MTV's choice of Durham to tell this story. Talk about not learning from your mistakes! Somehow, the very real hardships of an unplanned pregnancy (and teen motherhood) failed to deter this girl from getting pregnant again mere months after the delivery. Now we're expected to nod along sympathetically as she struggles with the politically charged, ethical dilemma of abortion? It's frustrating to watch such a hapless soul struggle with such a momentous choice.
But then, there are no obvious answers in this debate. Even for a smarter girl, this would be "no easy decision."
Do you agree with Markai's choice to let cameras capture her decision to abort? Chime in below.