I met a girl, whom I’ll call Jackie, while doing research in a juvenile hall. She was 17 years old, and had been in juvenile hall more times than she could remember. We talked about birth control, and she explained that she was using Depo-Provera, an injection that you take every three months to reliably prevent pregnancy.
She was adamant that the ability to prevent pregnancy was crucial for her — that she wasn’t ready to be a parent and all the responsibility that went along with that. She also told me that she’d been in and out of juvenile hall so frequently that, despite a few years of using this birth control, she’d never gotten her injection in the community. Every time that it’d been time to get another injection, every three months, she’d found herself back in juvenile hall, in a clinic that she loved and where she felt at home.
Despite the failings of our society, or her school, or her family, she had found a safety net that made her feel welcomed and allowed her to exercise some control over her chaotic life. Compassionate reproductive health care should be a right for all girls and women, and I’m happy that Jackie could find that, no matter where life has taken her.