Finding Safe Haven at the Center of a National Debate

Alternative high schools like TAPP have fallen out of favor in recent years due to education budget crunches as well as changing attitudes regarding teen pregnancy. In most states, teenage mothers who wish to continue their education go to regular schools.

Mahogany considered having an abortion but says her mother wouldn't allow it. In Kentucky, teenagers are required to get parental permission before having an abortion.

Choosing Not to Have an Abortion, Amidst Heated Local Debate

"I wanted an abortion, but not the adoption thing. My momma, she doesn't believe in abortion, so I had to go with what she said," Mahogany says. "I'm glad I didn't. It's a good experience."

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, nearly a third of all teen pregnancies end in abortion. However, the abortion rate among teens ages 15 to 17 has fallen 55 percent in the last 35 years.

Mahogany's struggle over abortion puts her at the center of a debate that rages across the country, and in her own backyard. A nearby abortion clinic, the EMW Women's Surgical Center in downtown Louisville, has long been a focus for local anti-abortion rights activists.

They are nothing if not committed to their cause. Donna Durning has joined the protests five days a week for the past 11 years to pray, sing and try to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term. "Sometimes people say, 'how can you do that every day?' And my answer is, 'How can I not do it?' There are babies being killed and women that are being harmed by abortions."

Equally devoted to their cause are the clinic escorts who attempt to shield the women from what they feel are unnecessary attacks, as well as the clinic's director. "I've been here for 10 years and it never ceases to amaze me that this kind of stuff can go on in today's day and age. That somebody can't go look for medical care without being harassed. To me, that's psychological abuse and emotional abuse," she says.

While there is no end in sight for the fight over abortion, Mahogany does have a final dream in sight, as she continues on at TAPP, where she is an honor student. "I'm gonna do what I have to do to be successful to make his life and my life better and easier."

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