A brave young South Carolina woman recently opened up about why she rejected abortion when she became pregnant at age 12 and has no regrets.
Two decades ago, Sharonda Jenkins gave birth to her baby girl when she was in sixth grade at Allendale Elementary School in South Carolina, according to The Island Packet.
It was extremely difficult, and many said Jenkins should have aborted her daughter. But she said she wants other young mothers to know that they can make it work, too.
“It’s never too late, and it’s not the end of your life,” Jenkins told the newspaper. “Keep going. It may hold you back a tad because for years you focus on the baby and not yourself, but keep going.”
Twenty years ago, Jenkins was 12 years old and did not realize she was pregnant. She said she was at a relative’s house with an older boy, and they were messing around and had sex. Five months went by before she and her family even realized she was pregnant.
The report continues:
She said she was too young to feel the joy an unborn baby’s heartbeat should bring to a mother.
“Once I saw her, that was a different story.”
When we talked about it recently, Sharonda could reflect on it as a 32-year-old married woman who has survived life’s darts.
“I wouldn’t call my daughter a mistake,” she said. “I would say that about the sex. But she didn’t ask to be here.”
She said her mother never flung a fit or shamed her.
“I know she was hurt, and maybe she did feel it was her fault. But she just stepped in and started getting things done.”
For her part, “I just wanted to make sure I did everything I could for my baby.”
Jenkins said she faced a lot of criticism and stigma for being young and pregnant. Growing up in a small town, she said it was hard to escape the talk. Other mothers did not want their daughters to be around her, and she eventually left school, according to the report.
“Everyone had an opinion about me and how my mother should have taken me to get an abortion. It was easy for them to give their advice from the outside looking in when truthfully no one knows what they would have done until they were placed in the situation,” she remembered.
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The report continued:
Sharonda quickly noticed that all the blame was on her — never the boy.
“It was you, you, you — the grief I got from people,” she said. “But it takes two.”
Seared in her mind is an elderly woman telling her she wouldn’t amount to anything.
“You do look up to older people,” Sharonda said. “They are the ones who are supposed to have so much wisdom. I was 14 at the time. She was wrong. She was wrong. But at the time, being my age, and knowing her age, I believed it.”
Despite the harsh words, she returned to school the year after her daughter was born. In high school, she worked hard, balancing a part-time job, attending school and taking care of her baby girl; she graduated in 2004.
“I kind of wanted to prove some people wrong,” she said.
Last year, she earned a diploma in practical nursing and now works as an LPN in her home state, according to the report. She now is a wife and mother. Jenkins said she hopes her story will inspire other struggling mothers not to give up hope.
“I don’t care what anybody says, your life is not ruined,” she said.