“She gave me hope”
By SPUC–the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
Writing in the Times [of London], Emily Beater describes finding out she “was pregnant aged 19 during ‘freshers’ week at Oxford University, in one of the communal bathrooms in my college.”
Her boyfriend and her family were both supportive, and, perhaps surprisingly, so was her college.
“First, I told my college tutor I was pregnant,” she writes. “She was brilliant and advised me not to have an abortion unless I really wanted one. If I wasn’t OK with it now, she said, I probably wouldn’t be down the line. She gave me hope. Keeping my child suddenly felt like a viable option.”
More support needed
Although her tutor was supportive, her story highlights the institutional lack of support for pregnant students. “I had no idea how undergraduates with children coped. There was virtually no advice online and zero success stories I could track down.” Eventually she decided to leave the university until she had given birth.
Beth was born in June 2015, and, Emily, determined to complete her degree, started her course again three months later. Now Beth is two and Emily is in the final year of her English course.
Not a failure
She still has to deal with negativity from people around her:
“Attitudes to young pregnancy have a long way to go. It’s still associated with failure and the notion that you’ve ruined your life. That weighed heavily on me at first. People didn’t often congratulate me — they asked me how it had happened, aghast.”
This attitude was also highlighted this weekend by Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who spoke at the Labour party conference on how having her son aged 16 “saved her” and hit out at the idea that young mothers are “failures.”
Emily’s story shows that young mothers don’t have to choose between their children and their education. It also makes clear that pregnant students should be given every support to keep their babies. ….
“I’m aware of how different my university experience has been to other students’, but I don’t regret having Beth when I did. She’s easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Though I’ve gone through a lot, I’ve learnt truths about life early on. Among them, the fact that you can definitely be a young mother and achieve things.”