DEAR ABBY: I was shocked when I read your reply to "Alone and Terrified," the teenage girl from Columbus, Ga. She had just discovered she was pregnant and was afraid to tell her parents because she was scared of their reaction. You advised her to go to Planned Parenthood. Were you advising her to get an abortion? -- APPALLED IN FLORIDA
DEAR APPALLED: No. That's a matter of personal choice. I urged her to confide in her mother or another trusted female adult, and if she could not do that, to consult Planned Parenthood. The worst thing in the world a girl in that situation can do is nothing. I knew that Planned Parenthood would advise her about her entire range of options. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Why did you assume that the girl couldn't trust her father enough to talk with him? In your mind, any trusted female seems preferable to talking to Dad. And what about the prospective father? -- DONALD C. HUBIN, PH.D., COLUMBUS, OHIO
DEAR DONALD: If the father was the parent who gave the girl her sex education, then she might feel comfortable confiding in him. However, many young women are self-conscious, and therefore reluctant, to discuss their sexuality with their fathers. Had she felt she could depend on the boy involved, she wouldn't have signed herself "Alone and Terrified."
DEAR ABBY: If that girl aborts her baby, she will most likely suffer for the rest of her life with the guilt she will eventually feel for having chosen abortion. -- LISA S., NEW MILFORD, PA.
DEAR LISA: That's not always the case. Reactions can vary. Although some women experience guilt, I have read that many report feeling a combination of regret and relief.
DEAR ABBY: Here in California a girl recently died because rather than going to her parents for help, she went to Planned Parenthood. Secrets should never be encouraged. Parents are the teen's best option. -- DANA S., ESCONDIDO, CALIF.
DEAR DANA: All medical procedures, and that includes abortion, carry some risk. According to reports I have read, the girl died of septic shock after taking RU-486. However, abortions are far safer today than they were 10 years ago -- and certainly safer than when the procedure was illegal and performed in back alleys.
My heart goes out to that girl's parents, and I agree that parents should be the best option. However, not all families are the kind we saw on "Leave It to Beaver," and many girls are afraid to confide in their parents.
DEAR ABBY: You should read "Grand Illusions," George Grant's expose of the racist roots of Planned Parenthood. Not to have advised that girl to visit her local Crisis Pregnancy Center was misleading. -- LENORE IN MANHATTAN, MONT.
DEAR LENORE: Margaret Sanger, who founded the tiny birth control clinic that was to become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, became a family planning crusader because she felt it was vital for POOR women (and that included women of color) to control their fertility and not be forced to have large families they couldn't take care of. A woman who is not in charge of her reproductive life is not in charge of her life. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the average woman, without birth control, would have between 12 and 15 pregnancies in her lifetime.
Planned Parenthood's mission is to help women make the right choice for THEM. For some, that means carrying a pregnancy to term. For others, it means using birth control. And for still others it can mean having an abortion. It is a matter of personal freedom and deeply personal choice.
P.S. I would advise women to go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers if I were convinced they wouldn't be forced to watch color videos of aborted fetuses.