At Jane’s Due Process, it’s pretty common to receive calls from teens in high school who are living with their parents in abusive or neglectful homes. Many of these young women are facing enormous uphill battles to simply make it through each day: there is often no breakfast on the table, the parents–if they are even around–don’t help the teen to school, don’t assist with homework, and don’t make extracurricular activities an option. The parents destroy their child’s self-confidence and sense of worth with physical and emotional abuse, belittling and berating their daughter on her every move. These parents create an extraordinarily difficult–if not impossible–environment for the teens to focus on their futures and dream up big dreams.
When a teen from a home like this actually graduates high school and escapes her family to attend college, it’s a really big deal. It is remarkable and inspiring, and a heck of a lot more than many of us can say for ourselves. It’s exactly what *Lana did, and I think she deserves some kudos.
Lana called into the hotline between morning classes at her college. She was pregnant and wanted an abortion, but couldn’t bear the thought of going back to her parents to ask for permission.
“I made a life for myself outside of that toxic place,” she told me. “No way am I going back.”
And I couldn’t blame her. Lana grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive home. Her parents, both drug addicts, were rarely around, and when they were, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Lana poured incredible focus into academics, knowing very well that someday good grades and an even better intellect could be her one-way ticket out of this volatile and desolate life. From a young age she promised herself that she would make it out of her home and create a life for herself that she was proud of. And that she did.
That Lana would be expected to return to the harrowing conditions of her parent’s home to ask them for permission to control her own reproductive health is incredulous. It would be dangerous for both her mental and physical health, and would undermine everything for which she had worked so hard.
Lana applied for a judicial bypass and received permission from a judge instead of a parent to terminate her pregnancy. Today, Lana is happily in school, still kicking butt in everything from Math to American Studies.
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