At TYTW, our core belief is that every girl should be free to determine the course of her own life. We envision a world where adolescent girls are free to be children and teens with access to all levels of education and healthcare. Every day TYTW is committed to the fight for bodily autonomy, which includes reproductive rights, access to sexual and reproductive health resources, and access to safe abortion services.
In this time of alarming rollbacks of rights for women and girls, TYTW is launching its Girls’ Choice Initiative, which provides support for girls under the age of 18 in need of abortion services in the US. Through the program, TYTW engages in advocacy and grantmaking to organizations providing financial, logistical, and psychosocial support to girls seeking abortion care.
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned the precedent set nearly 50 years ago by Roe v. Wade, stripping what was once a constitutional right from half the population. This decision has already had catastrophic consequences, most notably on child and adolescent girls now forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement titled AAP Supports Adolescents’ Right to Comprehensive, Confidential Reproductive Health Care, in which they define health care as including access to abortion services:
“Everyone – including teenagers – deserves the right to confidential medical care that best supports their own needs and is informed by their physician’s expertise. This decision [to overturn Roe v. Wade] carries grave consequences for our adolescent patients, who already face many more barriers than adults in accessing comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and abortion care.”
Being forced to carry and deliver a child while still a child oneself causes irreversible physical and psychological trauma. Complications, including maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, are much higher in girls under 15 than girls ages 16 to 19. In girls ages 16 to 19 the maternal and infant mortality rate is still twice as high compared to women 20 and above. According to the World Health Organization, adolescent mothers aged 10–19 years face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections. Babies born to mothers under 20 years of age face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions. Additionally, young girls who keep their pregnancies are more likely to drop out of school and struggle to find adequate employment to provide for their children, who are then, in turn, more likely to have a young pregnancy themselves, helping to reinforce intergenerational cycles of poverty.
Photo by Ultra Sonic Photography.