The letter to the editor below was my response to a 'real stories' editorial featured in the October 2007 issue of Glamour magazine.
After reading “Student moms, pushed off campus” I could not help but wonder if this editorial missed a prime opportunity to provide a valuable lesson to teens and young adults on the consequences of their decisions. School is not limited to the education provided inside the classroom; the most valuable lessons, especially those around complex decision making, are learned outside the walls of a classroom. Young mothers across the country and the world, including your editorialized Elizabeth Audley, learn the hard way all the difficulties associated with choosing to have a child before you are financially, emotionally and socially ready.
The feminist movement has given women greater equality through increasing our access to a wide variety family planning options, not through supporting and promoting a woman’s right to make bad choices. While it is unfair that the birth father in the editorial and in far too many other stories suffer little repercussion in their role, women must take control of their bodies knowing they are the ones whose lives are most changed by pregnancy. Ms. Audley had many opportunities to make a decision to preserve her access to the on-campus housing covered by her financial aid package; she could have abstained from sex, used protection, exercised her right to an abortion or chosen adoption. All of these options would have maintained her access to on-campus housing and preserved her full financial aid package. Life teaches us that every decision we make comes with associated pros and cons. A con of Ms. Audley’s decision to have a child before finishing school was a loss of access to on-campus housing; it is not the responsibility of a college or university to add housing or change policies in support of her decision to have a child.
Ms. Audley is lucky that the only thing she gained through her decisions was an unplanned pregnancy and lost is part of her financial aid. With the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in college aged students, including HIV, a responsible editorial would remind readers that she could have gained an STD and lost her life instead.