Listeners Weigh in on Single Parenting, Teen Pregnancy

Hear feedback to recent stories on unmarried women having children and what listeners thought about a recent guest who was seventeen and pregnant. Plus, a listener thanks the program for The Perfect Holiday.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

And now, it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations on the TELL ME MORE blog and get a chance to hear from you. Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me here in the studio, as always.

Hi, Lee. Are you feeling better?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Yeah. I'm feeling a little better. I think I've got my juice back. But speaking of juice, TELL ME MORE has been bringing the juice with a few conversations this week that have folks talking, to say the least.

Now, Michel, you know we did this segment on a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. Now, according to this report, the rate of births among unmarried women hit an all-time high in 2006. There are many feelings about what contributed to the rise of birthrates, and the wave of independent women choosing to raise children alone and people who say, too often, women do not have a choice. Well, here's a clip of that conversation with this week's Mocha Moms.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

JOLENE IVEY: I really want us all to stop and say what about the fathers and stop blaming the women. I mean, the men have to be responsible, too. They have to think about, do I want to have sex with this woman who could potentially bear my child?

HILL: And that was Mocha Mom Jolene Ivey. Well, Brian(ph), one of our listeners, says birth control didn't work out the way he and his girlfriend intended it to at the time.

BRIAN: Responsible, professional unwed dads can be made, if you will, with no negligence at all. Forgetting to wear a condom had nothing to do with our experience. You didn't cover that pregnant girlfriends can ignore the reasonable requests of fathers to have an abortion. Do I regret having had my daughter? I can tell you after parenting her, marrying my wife - who is not her mother, and having two daughters in addition - that I have been very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to be the dad that I am to the wonderful children that I have. But it was incredibly painful to be told against my wishes that I would be a dad. It was hard and harsh for me being told that I would, for years, support a single mom against my goals.

MARTIN: Brian, we appreciate your writing. But I have to say that there are many people for whom it would never be reasonable to ask someone to have an abortion. I think it just have to be said it is a very complicated issue. But we are glad that you found peace with your situation.

What also got folks talking was a conversation I had with a young girl we called Makaiya. She's four months pregnant. She is a minor, which is why we did reveal her real name. And she talked to us about becoming pregnant as a teenager. Let's listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MAKAIYA: I wasn't really sure that I can get pregnant. So - and it happened. We had a oops(ph). It's like a oops. And I went to the doctors to see if I was pregnant, and I wasn't pregnant so I thought, like, okay, I can't have kids. But then it happened.

MARTIN: Well, Catherine(ph) heard this segment and she says Makaiya's situation points to a much larger issue.

CATHERINE: Why was she not taught that if one does not become pregnant after one oops, as she described one instance of unprotected sex, it does not necessarily mean that the female cannot have children? We should empower our children with the self-esteem to believe that they have a choice when it comes, succumbing to hormones - as she put it - or making a better decision to put off sex until they can better deal with all the consequences.

MARTIN: Thanks, Catherine. Okay, Lee, what else?

HILL: Well, just a quick note and to switch things up just a little bit, a pretty big piece of Hollywood came to check us out to talk about the new movie "The Perfect Holiday" - where we had Queen Latifah, Morris Chestnut, Faizon Love and - Lord, help us - Gabrielle Union. Well, blogger Ernise(ph) sent us a note - I really liked the interview with the cast of "The Perfect Holiday." That was very well done.

Well, thank you, Ernise. And a very special thank you to Ms. Gabrielle for gracing us - me - with her presence.

MARTIN: A very special thank you to Ms. Gabriel. He is so sickening. You should see his face. Goodness. Thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you.

MARTIN: Remember to tell us more about what you think - everybody, other than Lee. Go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

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