Leave it to MTV to take one of the most contentious issues of the last 50 years and turn it on its head. Not satisfied with showcasing the hardships of being young and with child in shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” the network sought to show the other side of the story: the girls who decide to terminate their pregnancies. In doing so, they present these girls as being more responsible and, oddly, as better parents than those who decide to keep their babies. The end result was a program that marginalizes parenthood and ultimately celebrates a culture of death.
With the airing of “No Easy Decision,” MTV (which is owned by Viacom and has championed many Leftist causes) eschews the “teen mom as tragic figure” paradigm that they presented in previous series. What the producers give us in their stead are girls who play the suffering saints. Girls who take the scorn of the uncompassionate mob upon themselves so that those who come after them can make the same choices with impunity. The host, Dr. Drew Pinsky, speaks with a tone of near reverence to these young ladies. Reverence for, not only making the choice to have an abortion, but for also being willing to step out of the shadows and speak openly about their experiences. Indeed, Dr. Pinsky imbues the girls with an almost Rosa Park-like stature. The purpose here seems to be to demystify the choice and the process of abortion so that it seems to be the more mature, responsible, and acceptable choice. Teen motherhood, it is implied, is a hard, ignoble path to take. Teen abortion, on the other hand, is not only more responsible, but something that elevates the character of those who choose it.
The special revolves around Markai Durham, who was also followed on season two of “16 and Pregnant.” Ms. Durham already has a child with her boyfriend and they simply “can’t afford” another baby. After agonizing over the choice, they decide that the termination of the pregnancy is the best alternative, better than keeping the baby and better than giving it up for adoption. As Ms. Durham states, “no one is pro-abortion, but you have to do what is right.”
And it is there that “No Easy Decision” goes off the rails. What MTV presents is a moral inversion of what is right. It is an inversion that is made even more stunning by the fact that the girls understand the seriousness of their decision. There is no debate about the personhood of the fetus. There is no argument about when life begins. All of the girls seem to accept that they are indeed carrying a life within them. But, not being burdened with a child is simply a greater good than allowing the child to live. It is not a moral decision as much as it is a cost-benefit analysis. As one of the girls put it, aborting her baby was the “hardest parenting choice” that anyone could ever make. But it was a choice that was the most beneficial to her at that time in her life.
And, in the upside-down world of MTV, the idea of carrying a baby to term and then offering it up for adoption is more morally ambiguous than is abortion. Certainly, it would be very difficult for any woman to carry a child for nine months, only to have the newly born infant given away to another family. Even if it is the best possible option for all parties involved and the baby is going to a loving, stable family, you can’t downplay the effect this would have on the birth mother. But, only in MTV-Land would abortion be presented as the most humane of all possible choices.
What MTV ends up presenting was not so much a program about abortion, but a wholesale devaluation of life itself. They create a world in which it was accepted that these girls were carrying a human life, but where that life is of lesser value than the dreams and aspiration s of a sixteen year old. A world in which, not being able to go to the prom in order to raise money to pay for an abortion is deemed a sacrifice, but where ending the life of your unborn child is simply a “parenting choice.” In the end, what MTV aired was not a program about the hard choices of teen pregnancy and abortion, but a thinly veiled attempt to justify infanticide.