Did You Know That The High School Pregnancy Pact Is All Juno’s Fault?

So this past week everyone was all in a tizzy about a bunch of high school girls in Massachusetts who apparently made a pact to get preggers together.

Of course, this news disturbs me for a whole mess of reasons, not the least of which is that when I was in high school, the only pact my gal pals and I made was the first one to get to the cafeteria had to save seats for the rest of us.

Anyway…what really, truly disturbs me, however, is the totally insane and irresponsible suggestion that the recent movie “Juno” – about a teenage girl who places her kid for adoption – is somehow to blame for all those bellies popping out everywhere in Gloucester, Mass.

Just Google “Gloucester High” and “Juno” and you’ll get a whole mess of stories about the so-called Juno effect, such as ABC News’s “Teen Pregnancy Pact: Juno Times 17." Jamie Lynn Spears and the movie “Knocked Up” are also referenced as the talking heads wonder out loud if perhaps it is these pop culture moments that are to blame for this New England baby boom.

Wow, this whole thing reminds me of the time Marilyn Manson shot up a bunch of kids at Columbine. Remember?

You know, in the movie “Juno” (which I admit I loved), the main character doesn’t exactly have a rosy, wonderful pregnancy experience. She feels ostracized and embarrassed while at school, is somewhat physically repulsed by her own body, and sobs as she makes the mature but difficult decision to give her baby to someone more prepared to raise it. (By the way, has that entire plot point been totally lost on everyone? The fact that the movie “Juno” is perhaps one of the few mainstream films to promote adoption as a loving and responsible choice?)

The girls at Gloucester High got knocked up (and, by the way, there were boys involved in this equation, although you don’t hear too much about them)…anyway, the girls at Gloucester got pregnant not because cute little Ellen Page did. In my opinion, they got pregnant because they had limited access to birth control (the high school clinic’s medical director and nurse practitioner were forced to resign after the uproar surrounding their suggestion that contraceptives be administered without parental consent), and most of all they got pregnant because they had no reason not to get pregnant.

It’s been widely reported that Gloucester is a struggling town with little in the way of a prosperous future for most teenage residents. Now we can wringe our hands and despair over that and maybe even attempt to do something to solve it, and we can realize that if a girl has no access to birth control, no real chance of college, of steady employment, of a livable income, then she might as well give birth for some sort of shot at love and attention.

But she didn’t get pregnant because of Diablo Cody’s screenplay, and we all know it, so let’s stop suggesting she did. – Jennifer Mathieu

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Jennifer Mathieu
Contact: Jennifer Mathieu