MTV’s controversial “16 and Pregnant” show will air a special abortion episode next week debating all sides of the issue.
The special, entitled “No Easy Decision,” follows a young mom facing an unplanned pregnancy. Florida teen Markai Durham, an alumna of “16 and Pregnant,” will debate and eventually receive an abortion after discovering she is pregnant for the second time.
Dr. Drew Pinsky, a celebrity doctor who has been featured in radio and television shows such as “Loveline” and “Sex Rehab” with Dr. Drew, will host a panel discussion with other young moms.
The special episode builds on the controversy of previous shows, which critics have condemned as glorifying teenage pregnancy.
Yet in a recent study released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 82 percent of youth, boys and girls age 12 to 19, said that “16 and Pregnant” helps them “better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.”
In the same study, teens watched three episodes of the show and answered questions. Of those teens, 93 percent agreed with the statement, “I learned that teen parenthood is harder that I imagined from these episodes.”
National Campaign spokesman Bill Albert told media publication TV Squad that television often serves as educational tools when it comes to pregnancy.
“Entertainment media is one of the nation's favorite punching bags, but we have to acknowledge that when we're talking about teen pregnancies media can be and often is a force for good," said Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign.
Whether the show will be a positive or negative tool on the issue of abortion is questionable. MTV has not said whether or not Durham obtains an abortion on the show, but the teen has said she did through her social media site.
On her Formspring account, Durham answers questions about a potential abortion saying, "Yes I have had an abortion.” She continued, "Facts are it was only an embryo: not a baby, not a fetus when I was pregnant. So thats [sic]what I believe now and I know one day God will give me that embryo that turns into a baby."
During the “16 and Pregnant” episode featuring Durham, she was portrayed as a young black teen battling depression and missing her father.
In an after show clip, Durham described her first pregnancy saying, “[I] felt very depressed and I felt very heavy, and I felt very weird. I never thought I would feel that way because everyone make it seem like pregnancy is so happy and ‘Oh, she’s so beautiful being pregnant’ and that’s not the way [I felt] at all.”
Durham chose to keep the first baby, a girl named Za'Kari. She revealed that she is currently working and living with the child's father, James Worsham. She told the show she hopes to marry Worsham and have more children, but not until she completed college.
Despite Durham's decision to obtain an abortion, the network maintains that the show will feature all sides of the issue, including the after effects of receiving an abortion."No Easy Decision" will premiere on MTV on Dec. 28 at 11:30 p.m.