A controversial new series of PSAs in New York City “shaming” teen mothers in a bid to reduce early pregnancy rates has nearly universally come under fire as it is unveiled — and the material stemming from one of America’s most progressive cities is shocking indeed.
The NYC teen pregnancy shaming campaign has been lambasted for archaic, guilt-based tactics used to stigmatize, degrade and mock young women who are also mothers, even resorting to calling pregnant girls “fat” and questioning their appearance in prom dresses.
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg even took some time off from monitoring your soda intake to laud the “Cost Of Teen Pregnancy” ads — and hizzoner, who has never faced an unplanned pregnancy, praised them, saying:
“This campaign makes very clear to young people that there’s a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child … [The NYC teen pregnancy shaming ads] let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to become a parent could be the best decision they ever make.”
Looking at the NYC teen pregnancy shaming ads is sort of like entering a time machine back to the sixties, and, while teen mothers still face a tremendous number of challenges, it’s disheartening to see New York City publicly scarlet lettering minors who had the unfortunate luck to become pregnant at an early age.
Across the web, the NYC teen pregnancy ad campaign was roundly deemed by feminist bloggers to be “slut shaming,” and, by all reasonable definitions the ads certainly straddle a uniquely horrifying definition of both that and body-based insults. But it’s not just feminists and writers offended by the insulting campaign.
Planned Parenthood commented on the PSAs and opined that not only is the content offensive — it simply does not work as a meaningful way to prevent teen pregnancy. It’s well-established that teens exposed only to abstinence-based sex education have far higher rates of pregnancy, and Planned Parenthood explains that the money spent on ads mocking young, pregnant women could have been put into birth control and education.
The organization’s vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood’s New York office, Haydee Morales, explained in no uncertain terms why NYC’s “Cost Of Teen Pregnancy” ads are so damaging to the sexual health and public perception of teenage motherhood:
“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people … The city’s money would be better spent helping teens access health care, birth control and high-quality sexual and reproductive health education, not an ad campaign intended to create shock value.”
Given New York City Mayor Bloomberg is a staunch advocate of abortion rights, it’s certainly disheartening he doesn’t see what sort of stigma and judgment the NYC teen pregnancy shaming ads place on young women in a difficult situation. A mea culpa in this situation would be ideal — but if you’ve ever had the stick come up positive at the wrong time, you’re likely just as pessimistic such an insight is forthcoming.