While reading this story at Slate on what they call “advocacy” programming at MTV, specifically where shows called 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom follow actual pregnant teens and teens with babies chronicling their various struggles and challenges, I noticed a couple of things I thought worth sharing.
The writer claims that watching these reality shows increases condom use and thereby reduces teen pregnancy, but to support this claim they bizarrely link to an article about how fictional narrative shows impact teen behavior on contraception more than public service statements. There is anecdotal evidence that the $60K per year that MTV pays the girls combined with the all important mass exposure on MTV and even in tabloids(?!!) has resulted in some young girls getting pregnant for the express purpose of auditioning for the show. There will be no links to support that claim because it would require me to connect our blog to the most painfully stupid realm of media on earth, but if you are interested in looking it up on your own it took me all of 20 seconds to find.
Another claim in the article has better support. Here it is:
"research shows that viewing these MTV shows is positively correlated with support for abortion rights"
This links to an article that actually supports the claim made. In a Public Religion Research Institute study entitled What the Millennial Generation Tells Us about the Future of the Abortion Debate and the Culture Wars there is the following:
*The study identified and tested a number of hypotheses about independent influences on attitudes about the legality of abortion. The following factors are independent predictors of support for the legality of abortion, even when controlling for other demographic characteristics:
Having a situationalist rather than a principle-based approach to morality has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Knowing someone who has had an abortion has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Having seen MTV’s reality shows about unmarried pregnant teenagers has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Recently seeing an ultrasound image of a fetus has a negative impact on support for the legality of abortion. (Emphasis theirs)*
This supports claims consistently made here at LTI. Notice the first item. If you make your moral decisions situationally you are more likely to support legal abortion. This means that those who foster a greater understanding of their worldview and see their life as impacted by objective moral laws are less inclined to support legal abortion than people who decide what is right or wrong based on the immediate consequences. Christians need worldview training and my work with both students and adult classes in this area over the last year has only strengthened my resolve that this is critical to changing attitudes about abortion.
The other important point is that when the focus is on the woman, as it is when millenials are thinking of a friend that has had an abortion or are watching MTV programs highlighting the struggling teens, the result is an attitude supportive of legal abortion. What happens when they see an unltrasound of a fetal human being, though? Apparently confronting the humanity of the unborn has a negative impact on their support for legal abortion. Imagine that! Seeing the unborn human life moving and, in the case of my own children, rolling around and stretching and being rather like every other human being makes it harder to believe that it is morally acceptable to rip the life to pieces. Who knew?
So we see even more evidence that having a consistent principled worldview and then keeping the argument on the identity of the unborn changes attitudes toward abortion. And you see even more clearly why we are so passionate about what we do here at LTI.