A college campus can be a very unwelcoming environment for young pregnant women, and Heather Scott felt it. Pregnant at 19 during her sophomore year in college, Scott felt her classmates’ condescending looks and feared that she would not find any support.
Writing for Verily Magazine, Scott described the stigma she felt as a pregnant teenager on campus:
The whole teen pregnancy thing felt like being banished to the second circle of hell. …
Even though a large percentage of my peers at school were also having sex, you would have thought that I was at a convent with the way people reacted when they found out. My friends, save two, immediately distanced themselves from me. It turns out that pregnancy equals social pariah status. Word spread like wildfire, and I got condescending smirks everywhere I went on campus.”
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She was afraid that she would not find support from her conservative, religious family or her boyfriend either, but thankfully she did. Her family was disappointed but supportive; and though her boyfriend admitted that he never wanted to have children, he agreed to support Scott and their baby if that was what she wanted.
Scott made the difficult but courageous decision to take responsibility for her actions and put her child’s life first. She dropped out of college, married her boyfriend and began raising their child together. She wrote:
My husband and I went on to have three more children together. I went back to college at age 22, taking one class at a time while raising the kids. By 31 I had finished my degree and entered the job market. Yes, my story reveals me to be one of those people who front-loaded the kids and still managed to have a successful career after. I just can’t say it was intentional.
I am close with my parents and siblings, and they have always been my cheerleaders. My husband and I both work much harder than we may want to in order to support our family, but we found out a long time ago that, while we do love each other, the secret to a good marriage isn’t love—it’s hard work. (That is also, it turns out, the secret to most things that are worth having.)
Scott faced a lot of obstacles, and she easily could have taken the “easy way out” and aborted her unborn child. Abortion activists often claim that having an abortion helped them advance their careers and achieve academic or financial success. They often target college students like Scott with this exact message.
But Scott came to a very different conclusion. Reflecting on her unplanned pregnancy 15 years later, she said her decision to raise her child changed her life in a positive way. Through the struggles, she realized that she was stronger than she thought. She said God gave her the strength she needed to get through the tough times.
“I feel my story is worth telling if for no other reason than to remind people faced with unexpected pregnancies (or other unforeseen hardships) that despite what it may feel like at the time, your life doesn’t have to end right then and there,” Scott wrote. “So, no, my life didn’t end by getting pregnant at 19. In many ways, that’s when it started.”