OTTAWA, Ontario, July 20, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Defending a woman’s ‘right to choose’ often means defending abortion. Pro-choice advocates argue for the availability of that choice saying “you wouldn’t know how hard it is to deal with an unexpected pregnancy unless you’ve experienced it.”
But for Amber Kortekaas, pregnant at 16, nothing could be further from the truth. Amber recounted to LifeSiteNews what she called the “long chain of events” that resulted in her becoming pregnant at such a tender age.
It all began with the “caring, fun-loving boy” who took Amber out on dates, called her often on the phone, and made her “feel important.”
“I felt obligated to give him what he wanted,” she said. “Stupid, right?”
Not too much later, while attending a six-week-long gliding camp for cadets in the summer of 2010, Amber began to wonder if she might be pregnant. But she blamed her body’s little abnormalities on the “stresses of being away from home.”
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“The food tasted bad because it was gross mess-food. Everything smelled bad because it was an old building,” she said. “I threw-up that one night because the food tasted bad and the room smelled terrible. I was always exhausted because they were waking us up at 5 a.m. and I was running all day.”
But Amber began to run out of excuses for the strange way her body was behaving. It was during the last week of camp that she “figured it all out.” Amber persevered through the rigorous training and received her pilot’s license, despite all the changes her young body was experiencing as a result of the pregnancy. But her elation at getting her wings was short lived, for now she faced the reality of having to return home and tell her parents what was really going on inside of her.
“The thought of telling my parents was terrifying. My mom, a very kind and religious woman, had no idea what I was doing behind her back.”
But Amber was spared the dreaded moment: She threw-up during her car ride home, and her mom “instantly” figured out why.
Instead of condemning her, Amber’s family “vowed to support” her. “I was very lucky in this way, for I know it would have all been harder if they hadn’t.”
But the relationship between Amber and her boyfriend began to deteriorate. The “caring, fun-loving boy” began to show his true colors. He became “controlling to say the least, to the point where it was abusive.” The boyfriend began to harass Amber with text messages. If she did not immediately respond to his messages, he would call her on the phone, demanding to know where she was and why she was not responding.
Amber discovered that her boyfriend had even lied to her about his past and that he had made up stories about himself to gain her sympathy.
“He at one point told me about his ex-girlfriend — who apparently cheated on him — who nearly drove him to almost kill himself when they broke up,” she said.
The quarrels between the disenchanted young couple would end in Amber’s boyfriend threatening her with his suicide if he could not get his way. They quarreled over what the baby’s last name would be, whether Amber should continue to work, where she would go to school. But most often, they quarreled over where Amber should live.
“He desperately wanted me to move out with him, but I always refused. The reasons why were numerous. One of the main reasons is that I knew that he would absolutely give me no support as I tried to finish high school.”
Amber finally began to see for herself how the young man she called her boyfriend and with whom she had created a new life was “abusing and manipulating” her.
“He lied constantly about everything. He would keep me up on the phone fighting all night. I see all of this now, but I have to admit it was hard for me to realize how suppressed and horrible I felt at the time,” she said. “I believed that he was my only friend. I didn’t want to believe that he was abusing and manipulating me, but eventually I couldn’t ignore it anymore.”
Amber continued to live with her parents, who supported her and became her lifeline. She returned to school in the fall, completing her entire semester and even managing to keep up her honor-roll grades.
“I didn’t have my friends at that time,” she recounted, “but I knew in the importance of my education.”
With the baby coming in March, Amber cut back on her studies during the spring semester, only taking one class online from her home.
On March 4th, 2011, Jonah Eden Kortekaas was born.
“I went for the natural birth, with no epidural and it didn’t take long before Jonah was in my arms,” she said. “I was elated, but exhausted and emotional.”
“He was perfect, although exhausting. But he was worth it all. He was real, living, breathing, and loving.”
The boyfriend continued to harass Amber and even managed to convince the nurses to let him stay in the hospital with her after the birth of Jonah.
“This turned out to me nothing short of a disaster,” she said. “It went further and further downhill until the last morning I was there.”
On that morning, Amber was scheduled to see a social worker as part of the hospital’s policy for new mothers under the age of 20. The boyfriend, however, was not invited to the meeting.
“When I returned from the meeting, my mom was in the nursery with Jonah and my boyfriend was in Emergency. He had had a ‘panic attack’ on the floor and was taken out.”
A nurse who had witnessed the incident pulled Amber aside saying: “You are doing so well and trying so hard. You can do better than him. Whatever happens, do not leave your baby alone with that boy.”
This was all that Amber needed to hear. She now knew what she had to do.
“There it was, the last devastating blow in our relationship,” she said. “I broke up with him the next day.”
Amber fought for and won custody over her baby, with her ex-boyfriend being granted only supervised access.
With the boyfriend out of the way, Amber recalls that her life “really started getting better.” She began making new friends. She began to understand the purpose of boundaries, which she says helped her in building better relationships with people.
“I began feeling good about myself,” she said.
The young mom says that all her struggles have been worthwhile for the sake of her son.
“The thought that I could have so easily destroyed something so wonderful, still scares me to this day.”
“Yes, I am left out of many things, but I don’t feel as if it is the end of the world. I have a son who loves me, and I love him more than anything. I have fun, and am still enjoying life.”
Amber says that while she “regrets having sex”, she “never regrets” her decision to keep her baby. She likes to compare her “young and naive” sexual activity resulting in pregnancy to drinking and then causing a car accident.
“To me, the choice is when one decides to drive after drinking. One is responsible for whatever happens after that choice to drive. Likewise, the choice is when one decides to have sex. One is responsible for whatever happens after that choice.”
Amber saw the entire matter as very simple: Her choice, she says, was when she was with her boyfriend. Once she conceived, there was no longer any ‘choice’, but simply ‘responsibility’.
Amber pointed out that while the last two years of her life have been hard, nevertheless, through the challenges she has “become a better person”.
“I feel proud that I was able to take responsibility for my actions, face the consequences and make the best of them.”
“I love my baby. I regret having sex, but I have never regretted keeping my baby. Life doesn’t end when there is an unexpected pregnancy, it begins.”
Editor’s Note: Amber graduated from high school with the help of her Mom who looked after Jonah in the mornings while she attended class. Amber participated in online classes in the evenings while Jonah slept. The young mom looks forward to beginning post-secondary education at the University of Ottawa this September. “I am taking the next step,” she said.