January 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An emotional half-hour reality special that aired on MTV last week revolved around three people – a young woman, her boyfriend, and the “little ball of cells” that would have called them mom and dad. But by the end of the show, only two of those people remained.

The brief episode featured Markai Durham, one of the teen girls from the series “16 and pregnant.” It followed her agonized steps towards aborting her child after she missed a Depo-provera shot and became pregnant. Fearing another baby while saving for college, the teen, who believed adoption would be too painful, was convinced by a friend, her boyfriend, and her mother that she would not be able to handle keeping the child.

The reaction to the show, entitled “No Easy Decision,” was fierce and began even before it was aired. While pro-abortion organizations and commentators heaped praise on the program, pro-life leaders expressed compassion and grief for the young mother, whose tears they said testified to the post-abortive grief that she suffered.

In an interview after the abortion, Markai said that it “hurt” to watch her decision over again on video, and expressed her sadness. “You remember. You can’t forget,” she said, and cried several times. (Click here to watch the show, “No Easy Decision.”)

The special was hailed by pro-abortion advocates as providing a needed counter-narrative to the shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,” where mothers kept their unborn children. The Jezebel blog said the spot “didn’t disappoint;” Salon’s Lynn Harris said MTV “nailed it” for presenting the “many-sided truth” about abortion.

Pro-lifers, however, disagreed that the issue was handled even-handedly. Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek pointed out before the show aired that MTV collaborated with a pro-abortion counseling group to create the episode, and that the “No Easy Decision” website links only to pro-abortion groups.

Despite the program’s clear “pro-choice” bent, it presented a raw display of Markai’s agony as she felt increasingly trapped into accepting the abortion. “I knew that abortion was, like, out there, I just never thought it would have been the option for me,” Markai says at first, and vents to her friend that “I’m in love with this baby already.”

“We made the decision but, like, I wonder if we could have made a better [one],” she says after the procedure.

At one point the young woman tells her boyfriend James that the abortion counselor has advised her to think of the baby “as what it is, nothing but a little ball of cells, which is true.” But when James reminds her that he had already suggested referring to the baby as a “thing,” she becomes irritated, saying he doesn’t understand the matter from a woman’s perspective.

Markai’s baby was at about six or seven weeks gestation, at which time a head, heart, rudimentary spinal cord, and limb buds would have formed.

Two other post-abortive women joined Markai in the interview segment to share their perspective. One of them, Katie, claims she did not experience “negative feelings” after her abortion, but bursts into tears when she describes how her baby nephew reminds her of her own pregnancy. The women all appear to agree with Katie when she says that the abortion was “a parenting choice” because “I acknowledged it as a baby.”

Post-abortive women with Silent No More awareness responded to the show, expressing compassion for Markai’s situation and condemning the misinformation surrounding her decision.

“I ached for Markai,” said Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a statement about the show. “Before one of my abortions, Planned Parenthood told me that my baby was ‘just a clump of cells.’ Decades later, this beautiful young mother was told the same lie.” Georgette Forney, the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, said that her heart “broke for Markai” because she was not made aware of economic help often available through pregnancy resource centers.

Markai’s story is continuing to provoke new reactions. Markai recently explained her decision again on her Facebook fanpage, where she expressed frustration at the anger directed at her: “Your [sic] angry? for what I want to know. At me because I think its right? I never said it was ALRIGHT!”

In a column Sunday, New York Times op-ed writer Ross Douthat observed that the family’s sad story is particularly poignant as countless couples, facing a vast adoption shortage, experience the anguish of infertility.

“Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason,” wrote Douthat.

“This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.”