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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Teenager Talks About Women's Reproductive Rights

Joy Thornhill
Basim Blunt
Joy Thornhill

Women’s reproductive rights have been a topic of ongoing debate in the Ohio Legislature, around the state, and in many homes.  Today on Dayton Youth Radio we meet a young woman and her father who are participating in that discussion.  

I'm Joy. I'm 18 years old, and I love to write, I have ever since I could hold a crayon. And I hate negativity discrimination and inequality like most people that I know. I live with my dad, Craig Thornhill, which certainly has been a roller coaster over these past few years with lots of ups and lots of downs.

He's the paralegal for the Dayton Municipal Court, and outside of work, "I'm very engaged with the Holy Spirit in serving as Zion Baptist Church's trustee chairman. This is the oldest black Baptist church in the Dayton area."

I asked my dad if he was pro-life or pro-choice.

"Well life is precious, and it should be sacred," he said. "I believe it is a gift from God. So, you know, anything that preserves life is what our policy should be about."

I never knew which side of the argument to pick but as I grew older, around 15 years old, I saw the girls that I was growing up with in church getting pregnant and having babies. It was so surreal to me. My dad always scolded me saying that I better make sure that doesn't turn out to be me.

I ask him about his views on birth control.

"I think abstinence is the best birth control, teaching kind of values that we've allowed ourselves to hold on to, that had been inherited from generation to generation. Those kinds of values teach the sacredness of the sacred institution of marriage. There comes a certain level of responsibility that is being bypassed by handing [young women] birth control. We don't teach that responsible act. Bringing people into the world that have to be taken care of, not little doll babies being taken fro the shelf, but living beings. When we do that, we won't have to worry about birth control."

At school, I knew a couple of girls who were on birth control because it made their period symptoms less severe. I talked to my mom and doctor about it, and it seemed like a great idea. However my dad felt differently. He let me know that I wouldn't be rescheduling the appointment because he'd already gone in and told the doctors that I shouldn't be allowed to get on birth control. He doesn't know how this can help me be physically and mentally more at ease.

This controlling mentality reminded me of the same one that governs laws surrounding abortions, which he's also against. The heartbeat bill has also been haunting me and the conscience of other females my age. We're afraid that this will be a gateway to abortions becoming completely illegal, taking away control of our other reproductive rights.

I asked my dad which side he would choose if he had to pick a side.

"I'd like to see us try to find you know then legislate some form of balance in that," he said.

I did this story because I just think women should be able to choose for themselves what is right for their bodies. Men they don't go through what we go through so they don't understand that struggle. I'm not asking them to understand it, I'm demanding them to sympathize.

Joy Thornhill is a student at Stivers School for the Arts. Special thanks Leslie Rogers and Eva Maksutis of the Creative Writing Magnet. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.stivers.org/ Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.