Looking at her face as she spoke about it, her distress was palpable. “I know this has been, and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you,” she said in an interview.
Bristol is 24-years-old, certainly old enough to handle motherhood. Unlike when she fast-tracked to adulthood with her first pregnancy at 17, she has had time to experience motherhood, albeit in a pretty cushy environment.
It occurred to me, looking a Bristol’s sad and distraught face as she shared her news, that this is a pregnancy she would rather not go through. Though her tune has changed to a more upbeat one since that interview, her honest feelings about the fix she is in can’t be so easily dispelled.
Bristol will have the baby amid a supportive family, with no concern about how to provide for that child’s future. Though an unintended one, her pregnancy will result in a baby being born into a stable and nurturing environment.
If only every woman who faced an unintended pregnancy had that same assurance.
With her financial comfort and her family’s support, Bristol is in a safe place. Imagine if she already had the one child, yet was struggling because she had no money, no job, no husband and no family to help her. Imagine how that distraught feeling would turn into one of utter despair.
That is what many women face with an unintended pregnancy—utter despair. Unintended pregnancies happen. Access to free birth control would diminish that possibility, and there are many women who very much want access to birth control, but have no means of attaining it. Bristol had every means to avoid an unintended pregnancy. With abstinence as a choice, and birth control for prevention, how did Bristol find herself in this position yet again?
Regardless, Bristol is much better equipped to deal with an unintended pregnancy that millions of other women. Every woman should have a choice in dealing with unintended pregnancies, which is why access to a safe, affordable, unencumbered abortion procedure must always be available to women who cannot afford—financially or emotionally—to have a second or a third or fourth child that would not be born into a safe and stable life, as Bristol’s baby is certain to be.
Though she was a paid and promoted advocate for abstinence, we now know Bristol can’t be counted on to set an example. We can’t assume she would be selfless enough to look beyond her own circumstances, and to consider that others who are dealing with unintended pregnancies are in much more dire straits than she. Her religious beliefs and Party affiliation wouldn’t sanction her advocating access to free birth control or unencumbered abortions. So what can we expect from spokesperson Bristol? Nothing.
Instead, let’s use her pregnancy to serve as a reminder that even with the best intentions, unintended pregnancies occur. And when they do, it is keeping choice a viable option that matters. Options and decisions should be a discussion between a woman and her doctor, and politicians should stay out of that discussion. For now, their unrealistic rhetoric limits a woman’s options to their prescribed single most fail-safe solution against future pregnancies, “Keep your legs together.”
Bristol stomped all the air out of that notion.